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Domitian denarius "snack" coin turns out to be the third specimen known


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Posted · Supporter

A few months ago I was putting together an order from a dealer on MA-Shops - a couple different coins. I was looking to see what else they might have interesting, and saw a denarius of Domitian in decent shape, with a non-Minerva reverse. The price was low enough that I figured I could probably sell it later without taking a loss, if I ended up not wanting it. So, I threw it in with the rest of the coins and placed the order.

After a couple weeks the coins arrived, and I gave them all a cursory examination, then put them in the coin cabinet. It was only yesterday, months later, that I finally got around to taking photos and researching attribution (the coins came without description.) I ran into some trouble with the Domitian - I could not seem to find the type online. Part of the problem was that owing to some weakness on part of the obverse legend, I didn't realize at first that it ended in 'PONT'.

But finally I did find an exact match - on ACsearch.info. It turns out that the coin is an extremely rare, early issue of Domitian - so rare, in fact, that up until now only two specimens of the type were recorded - the RIC plate coin (the only one known to Carradice and Buttrey at the time of their 2007 RIC II.1 edition), and the ACSearch coin, which has certainly been around the block! It was formerly owned by Harry N. Sneh, @David Atherton, and @Orfew (A. Short), then sold through CNG in 2022, and acquired then or afterwards by @curtislclay, and then sold again through Harlan J. Berk in September of last year (2023). Berk noted in his listing that the coin was apparently only the second recorded specimen - which makes mine the third. All three coins share the same obverse and reverse die.


AR Denarius (18.77mm, 2.91g, 6h)
Struck September - December, AD 81. Rome mint
Obverse: IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG PONT, laureate head of Domitian right
Reverse: COS VII DES VIII P P, winged thunderbolt on seat draped with fringed cover
References: RIC II 34 (same dies)
An early issue struck under Domitian when he still lacked the full title of 'Pontifex Maximus'. This type is extremely rare, rated R3 in the 2007 RIC II edition. This coin is apparently only the third known to exist, and shares the same dies with the other two known specimens.


I've learned in my researches that all of Domitian's denarius issues with obverse legends ending with 'PONT' are very rare, struck in the short period of time after his accession to the throne, but before he was officially given the title 'Pontifex Maximus'.

Here is the Ex-Sneh/Atherton/Orfew/CNG/Curtis Clay/Harlan J. Berk coin:

CNG Photo and description:


Domitian. AD 81-96. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.22 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck 13 September-31 December AD 81. IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG PONT, laureate head right / COS VII DES VIII P P, Pulvinar (throne) of Jupiter and Juno: square seat, draped, with tassels, surmounted by a winged thunderbolt. RIC II.1 34 (R3; same dies as illustration); RSC –. Toned, some green deposits. Near VF. Carradice and Buttrey knew of only one specimen at the time they revised the second edition of RIC II.1 in 2007. Very rare.
From the A. Short Collection. Purportedly ex Harry N. Sneh Collection and David Atherton Collection.
Every Domitian denarius that includes PONT in the obverse legend is very rare or extremely rare.

HJB photo and description:


Domitian. Denarius; Domitian; 81-96 AD, Rome, 81 AD, Denarius, 3.22g. RIC-34 (R3), pl. 118 (same dies). Obv: IMP CAESAR DOMITIAN AVG PONT Head laureate r. Rx: COS VII - DES VIII P P Winged thunderbolt on seat with fringed seat cover hanging down. Ex Curtis L. Clay Collection; ex CNG E515, 4 May 2022, 537. Rare early PONT issue, not yet PONT MAX; apparently only the second recorded specimen with this reverse type.. gVF

The same coin is also featured on wildwinds.com, courtesy of @Orfew:


Domitian AR Denarius, AD 81, Rome mint. 3.23 g.
IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG PONT, laureate head right.
COS VII DES VIII P P, winged thunderbolt on a draped chair.
RIC II 34. Not in BMC or RSC.


I'm not sure what I will do with the coin...of course it's cool to have such a rarity (it beats out my Trajan ITALIA REST As), but on the other hand, it would probably be more appreciated in a specialist's collection. I will probably end up selling it eventually. 😉 Till then though, the coin will have an (unexpectedly!) special place in my collection.


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Posted · Supporter
29 minutes ago, David Atherton said:

Fantastic rarity! Nice that it snuck up on you too!

I do have another RIC 34 not yet posted in my gallery (stay tuned), so perhaps 4 specimens now?

Ah! I was wondering why you wouldn't have kept such a rarity. 🙂 Is it also a double-die match to the RIC coin?


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Believe it or not it's a new purchase! I just haven't gotten around to unboxing it yet, as you can see (the Domitian is buried in there somewhere!).



I have quite a backlog of packages due primarily to HJB'S BBS 224 and 225 that kept me busy towards the close of 2023.

I sold my Sneh D34 to Andrew to help him Kickstart his PONT collection. Luckily I was able to find another this past fall. Goes to show that good deeds don't go unnoticed by the gods. 🙌

Edited by David Atherton
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Fantastic find!  It's always great to find rarities on the cheap, especially a Domitian PONT 

 If I continued collecting Domitian, that coin may have been in my collection too! 

I kept an ex-ofrew (A. Short) PONT denarius:



Laureate head right

Seat, draped, above, a winged thunderbolt placed horizontally.

Rome 81 CE


RIC 40 (R2)

Ex-A Short Collection; Ex-Lucernae Catawiki auction May 2019;

Edited by Jay GT4
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