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Faustina Friday – The Lifetime Denarii of Faustina the Elder with the IVNONI REGINAE and Pulvinar Reverse Type


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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a coin-filled New Years weekend. I hope that 2024 treats you well!

Today we're going to do some serious flyspecking, examining the various varieties of Faustina the Elder's IVNONI REGINAE and pulvinar denarii of 140 CE. The reverse type was issued in the aureus, silver quinarius, and the sestertius and medium bronze denominations, but this installment of Faustina Friday is limited to her denarii because I have no specimens in my collection of the other denominations.

What the heck is a pulvinar? The book says it's a throne!

It is a throne, but not a throne for just anybody. A pulvinar is a cushioned seat for a god or goddess which was placed before their statues and altars at the lectisternium. The term comes from pulvinus, the Latin word for cushion. The pulvinar on this coin type is the pulvinar for the queen of the gods, Juno.

Dating This Issue

On the denarii of this reverse type, the obverse legend always reads FAVSTINA AVGVSTA. The change of titulature to FAVSTINA AVGVSTA appears alongside the COS III issues of Antoninus Pius.[1] This change was undoubtedly prompted by the joint-consulship of Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius Caesar at the turn of the new year 140 CE. Faustina's new obverse inscription thereby reflects the new power structure: it completes the dynastic triad of Augustus, Augusta, and Caesar.[2] The IVNONI REGINAE and pulvinar issue likely dates from the early months of 140, for aurei of the corresponding reverse type were struck with Faustina's earlier FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG P P obverse legend of 139 (RIC 332; BMCRE 45) as well as with the FAVSTINA AVGVSTA legend of 140 (RIC 341; BMCRE 138). There were only 25 denarii of this reverse type in the Reka Devnia hoard, as opposed to 106 of the IVNONI REGINAE and Juno standing reverse type,[3] suggesting a shorter period of production, perhaps a few months.

Although we have no die-linkage studies of the lifetime issues of Faustina the Elder to establish an absolute chronology of her denarii, I have no reason to think the various bust and reverse design varieties represented separate issues. Rather, I believe they merely represent idiosyncrasies on the part of the die engravers, and they were issued more or less contemporaneously. Nonetheless, the various references assign separate catalog numbers to some of them. Cohen catalogs three varieties, RIC catalogs two, Strack notes six varieties, BMCRE notes three varieties, RSC notes five, and CRE six. Paul Dinsdale catalogs no fewer than eight varieties of this reverse type!

The bust is always bare-headed but may face right or left. The reverse may depict various objects on the seat of the pulvinar, such as a struppus, a pulvinus, or perhaps a globe. The transverse scepter may be long or short, and the peacock may stand either on the pulvinar or below it and may face left or right. I'm going to show examples of the various varieties. I'll leave it to you to decide how significant these might be; it depends on whether you're a lumper or a splitter. I will illustrate these whenever possible with specimens from my own collection but must illustrate the varieties I don't have with museum specimens or photos from various auction firms, which I cite as source material.

The Various Varieties

I consider the most frequently encountered variety to be the exemplar of the type. It features the right-facing draped bust of the empress on its obverse and a pulvinar, below which a peacock stands, facing right, with its tail in splendor; across the pulvinar from left to right leans a long scepter (hasta pura). The peacock and scepter are two main attributes of Juno.

Peacock, standing right, under throne; long transverse scepter across throne:

FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockunderThronedenarius.jpg.3df4b52627375a090a278f8b80e04a08.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.55 g, 17.6 mm, 6 h.
Rome, early 140 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, Bust of Faustina I, draped, right.
Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, pulvinar, against which rests transverse scepter; below, peacock standing right with tail spread.
Refs: RIC 339a; BMCRE 139-42; Cohen/RSC 219; RCV –; Strack 405; CRE 131; Dinsdale 006730.


Faustina faces left; peacock stands right:
FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockunderThronedenariusleft-facingbust.jpg.6b9845a7137cc4dedafed5174c02000a.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.17 g, 17.3 mm, 12 h.
Rome, early 140 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, left.
Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, pulvinar, against which rests transverse scepter; below, peacock with tail spread.
Refs: RIC 339b; BMCRE 143; Cohen (no collection cited)/RSC 220; Strack 405 (citing BMC and Reka Devnia);
Reka Devnia 1313; RCV --; CRE 132; Dinsdale 006740.
Notes: I have
previously written about this left-facing bust type elsewhere.


Struppus on the seat of the pulvinar; transverse scepter is long; peacock standing facing under chair:
FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEStruppusonthroneandpeacockbeneathdenarius.jpg.9b6627d0b12db73f5369910295facc3d.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.10 g, 17.3 mm, 7 h.
Rome, early 140 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, pulvinar, on which is a struppus, long transverse scepter leans against it; below, peacock standing facing with tail spread.
Refs: RIC –; BMCRE –; Cohen/RSC –; Strack –; RCV –; CRE 133; Dinsdale 006710.


Struppus (?) on the seat of the pulvinar; transverse scepter is short; peacock standing right on base under chair:

FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEStruppusonthroneandpeacockbeneathdenariusBMC.jpg.213c11b3842c1b0326f96c92442547ee.jpg

Denarius found in Pyrford, Surrey. Dinsdale 006700, otherwise unlisted. British Museum collection 1957,0207.7.


Faustina faces right; peacock stands on top of pulvinar:
FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockonThronedenarius.jpg.bd7fbb382a6c24c00e55bc8c2039423a.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.30 g, 18.4 mm, 6 h.
Rome
, early 140 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, pulvinar, on which stands peacock with tail spread; behind throne, transverse scepter.
Refs: RIC 340; BMCRE 145; Cohen/RSC 221; Strack 405; RCV 4670; CRE 135-6; Dinsdale 006750.
Notes: I have
previously written about this reverse type elsewhere.


Faustina faces left; peacock stands on top of pulvinar (same reverse die as above):

FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockandThronedenariusleftfacingbustCNG.jpg.4b7a82ed04399556e07a934ec29dab37.jpg

RSC 221a, CNG 96, lot 808, May 14, 2014. This is also the Temeryazev & Makarenko plate coin (CRE 136) and the Dinsdale plate coin, no. 006760.


No transverse scepter; pulvinus (?) on seat of pulvinar; peacock stands left under throne:
FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockunderThronedenariusnoscepter.jpg.0577b74f6d3d58e88a3d889cf11d4e5e.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.58 g, 16.1 mm, 7 h.
Rome, early 140 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, the pulvinar of Juno, upon which rests a cushion(?); in foreground, peacock standing left, with tail in splendor.
Refs: RIC –; BMCRE 139n (citing Strack); RSC 221b (citing Strack); Strack 406; RCV –; CRE 134; Dinsdale 006770.
Notes: I have
previously written about this reverse type elsewhere. Ex- Tom Mullally, illustrated at http://dirtyoldbooks.com/roman/id/faustina/fa088.jpg (www.dirtyoldcoins.com). ERIC II plate coin, type 107, p. 224.


No transverse scepter; globe (?) on seat of pulvinar; peacock stands right under throne:

FaustinaSrIVNONIREGINAEPeacockunderThronedenariusnoscepterglobeTyllKroha.jpg.7949c733823a56f3f7675e2b1ac07bca.jpg

Kölner Münzkabinett Tyll Kroha Nachfolger UG, Auction 103, lot 415, 30 June 2015. Unlisted in major references; Dinsdale 006780.


Do you have any of these pulvinar and peacock coins? Let's see them! As always, please post comments, coins, and anything you feel is relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, p. liv.

2. Paul H Dinsdale, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161, Second Revised Edition. Leeds, 2021, p. 97.

3. Mouchmov, Nicolas A. Le trésor Numismatique De Réka-Devnia: Marcianopolis. Musée National Bulgare, 1934.

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It's a lovely collection and an interesting story, as usual.

The eight coins shown are legitimate varieties to be recognised as such. Whatever the reason for the engraver(s) to vary the designs, they are attractive and would help any die studies (especially when using old plates with photos of lesser quality).

I find the earlier FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG P P / IVNONI REGINAE aureus reverse with a basket particularly attractive. Hopefully, one day, a denarius with this design will surface.

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15 hours ago, seth77 said:

Do the left-facing busts have a special hairdo?

I think they are the product of different die-engravers from the others. I also wonder if they were working from a different portrait bust of the empress than the others. When you look at the bust of her in the Capitoline Museum from the left, the portrait on the coins doesn't seem so weird.

1212 Faustina-Major Capitoline.jpg

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