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Limes top 10


Limes top 10   

21 members have voted

  1. 1. Please vote

    • Domitian sestertius Minerva lararium
      7
    • Vespasian sestertius IVDAEA CAPTA
      4
    • Hadrian cistophorus - temple of Diana
      6
    • Trajan sestertius - AQUA TRAIANA
      3
    • Trajan sestertius - bridge over the Danube river (or is it...?)
      3
    • Caligula sestertius - temple of Divus Augustus
      8
    • Marcus Aurelius sestertius - temple of Mercury
      5
    • Domitian AE As - games issue
      1
    • Commodus sestertius - FIDES EXERCITUM
      4
    • Constantine I nummus - Milvian bridge reverse
      2


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With the arrival of my last two coins of 2023 this week, I can complete my top 10 of 2023. In total, I added 22 coins and sold 5 coins. The list consists of Roman imperials only, and I chose these 10 not because of the quality of the coins but because of the reverses and the fantastic stories they tell. There’s lots of construction work involved, be warned! Without further ado, here is my top 10. I’ll also show a group photo of the 12 coins that did not make it in the list.

 No. 10 - Constantine I nummus - Milvian bridge reverse

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The reverse of this little coin is believed to show the Milvian bridge. This is the bridge where Constantine defeated Maxentius and became sole ruler of the western half of the Roman empire. It was my first ‘bridge’ coin, but would prove to be my second bridge coin added this year to my collection.

 No. 9 - Commodus sestertius - FIDES EXERCITUM

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This lovely green patinated sestertius shows a great portrait of Commodus, with the typical elongated head and expressionless gaze. At least, that’s what I make of it. The reverse shows Commodus on a platform and celebrates the loyalty of the army. I purchased this coin quite early in 2023, and its one of my favorites of the year.

 No. 8 - Domitian AE As - games issue

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This somewhat rough coin has two interesting aspects. First, it celebrates the Ludi Saeculares (Secular Games) of 88 AD. And second, the reverse shows a pious scene of Domitian, in front of the temple of Divus Augustus. It’s not pretty, but the interesting reverse makes up for that!

 No. 7 - Marcus Aurelius sestertius - temple of Mercury

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I’ve been on the look for this type, ever since Andres showed his on CT. Somehow an affordable issue eluded me for some time, untill this year I was able to buy not one, but two. I was happy with the first coin, however, the second coin had a better reverse and more even patina. I could buy it for a fair price and was able to sell the first. Anyway, the coin shows the fantastic temple of Mercury on the reverse. This is one of if not the, oldest temple(s) of Rome. The pillars are not simply pillars, but Telamones. Also note the peculiar shaped roof, which appears on this coin as a semi-circular pediment with the animals and objects associated with Mercury. Marvin Tameanko dedicates an entire chapter of his book ‘Monumental Coins’ to this temple, and purports it’s actually not a temple but a shrine that would have stood inside a temple. And as a bonus, the reverse refers to the rain miracle as well. Read more about it here (which also shows the coin that I sold).

 No. 6 - Caligula sestertius - temple of Divus Augustus

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Despite the horrible condition I was as happy as a kid in a candy store after I was able to win this coin. The top of the various devices appear to be filed off, but the coin nevertheless shows quite a few details. The reverse is where the action takes places. The coin commemorates the completion of the temple of Divus Augustus built on the Palatine Hill. On the reverse we can see Caligula, as Pontifex Maximus, leading the sacrificial ceremonies. Better examples of this type demand high prices, but I have a feeling some day, in the future, I might get a better one. It’s a fantastic type, with a magnificent reverse.

 No. 5 - Trajan sestertius - bridge over the Danube river (or is it...?)

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This is one of my two latest arrivals, having been stuck in some German DHL parcel centre for over a month. I think the coin is quite well known, the reverse showing either the bridge over the Danube river built by Trajan (actually Apollodorus of Damascus) in relation to the second Dacian campaigns. Philip Hill however purports that this coin shows the Pons Sublicius. This was the first bridge that spanned the TIber river, and by displaying it on the reverse of this coin, Trajan’s work was linked with ancient tradition. I absolutely want to do more research on this coin. And it deserves better photo’s too, because it now looks like it’s been hit by a truck. It’s not, its a bit corroded, but the green patina is quite unevenly green which my camera shows like the ball pit in IKEA.

 No. 4 - Trajan sestertius - AQUA TRAIANA

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Romans were magnificent engineers. Using ideas from other civilizations and perfecting it to the very last detail. So was the case with the aquaduct. It’s my second ‘aquaduct’ coin acquired this year (see the group shot below). I decided to add this to the list, because the reverse is fantastic. It shows the statue of the genius of the Aqua Traiana that surmounted the terminal castellum of the aquaduct (the final basin form which the water of the aquaduct was channelled to public users). I’m working on a write up on Roman aquaducts for Numisforums, using this and the other coin. Stay tuned...!

 No. 3 - Hadrian cistophorus - temple of Diana

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The temple of Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient local form of the goddess Artemis. The temple stood in Ephesus, and was considered one of the seven ancient world wonders. I visited the site a long time ago (when I was a younger guy, having a blast at the Turkish riviera, and ancient history was not considered ‘cool’) and at that time it already impressed me, together with the ancient ruins of Ephesus. I would really like to visit it again some day. It’s a fantastic and impressive coin, and the first cistophorus in my collection.

 No. 2 - Vespasian sestertius - IVDAEA CAPTA

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End of 2022 I sold 11 coins and with the proceeds of that sale, I bought this coin. The historical relevance of this coin does not need an explanation. In hand the coin is a beauty.

 No. 1 - Domitian sestertius - lararium of Minerva

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My number 1 arrived this week, together with the no. 5 Trajan sestertius. I simply had to wait with this list untill it’s arrival. This coin is absolutely fantastic and demands better photo’s. But with short time this will do for now. The obverse shows a brilliant portrait of Domitian, and the reverse shows a very detailed shrine and statue (even though it’s a bit pitted). It’s quite scarce, and I’m very happy to have been able to add this to my collection. It needs more research, and maybe I’ll give it its own write up.

 Hill purports that the shrine shown on the reverse of this sestertius is the lararium in Domitian's palace. The lararium is a private chapel in a house and was dedicated to the Lares and Penatas, the household gods or to the owner's patron deity. As Minerva was Domitian's patroness, the lararium in his palace on the Palatine would have been dedicated to her. (Philip Hill, The Monuments of Ancient Rome as Coin Types, 1989, p. 30-31). But not everyone agrees however... Stay tuned!

 That concludes the list. Below you may find a group shot of the coins that did not make it in the list.

 Thanks for voting and looking. I have you all have a great 2024!

Edited by Limes
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So many important types , you really had a great year ! My favorite coin is the Caligula sestertius , folowed by Domitian sestertius and the one of Commodus.

Also , the Hadrian sestertius from the last photo is very attractive.

Congratulations ! 

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Posted (edited)

Wonderful coins! It was difficult to pick only three when I voted, but I ended up deciding that the beautiful Hadrian cistophorus is my favorite, followed by the two Trajan sestertii.

Regarding the Caligula sestertius, what motive do you think would lead someone to file off the top surfaces of the devices like that? The same thing appears to have happened to Salus (especially her head) on the reverse of my Maximinus Thrax sestertius, and I don't really get it.

image.jpeg.26b0552a09f3beed85e11eaa71008c77.jpeg

Edited by DonnaML
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A collector who likes "unique" reverses - I mentioned what I mean by this term in the past - reverses that were mainly use by an emperor and usually they are not only unique, but also action packed and very original. Congratulations!

It is very difficult to pick 3 coins - but I would go for Caligula, Domitian as with games and Marcus Aurelius sestertius. Extraordinary coins. But this doesn't mean I don't find the others exceptional. 

Note - I am not a Trajan specialist, but I have witnessed some discussions about this type (Trajan coinage related to Dacia is very popular in my country so many collectors would like a coin with a Danube bridge). But the general opinion is that it displays the bridge over Tiber, not Apollodor's bridge over Danube. Of course in the end these are speculations as nobody can confirm, especially with a legend that doesn't clarify much.

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Posted · Supporter

I always enjoy seeing your collection photos @Limes and this year looks to have been a great one! My top three favorites ended up being the same as yours 🙂 with fourth place 'honorable mention' going to No. 10, the Constantine commemorative.

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I had to like the Constantine commemorative of Milvian Bridge best, despite the mere decade and a half from the events.  The eventful, but still, thank you, recent interval makes the (oops, eponymous) mint kind of redundant.  (Anyone for whom 16 years isn't still recent history just hasn't lived long enough.)  And especially with the waves of the Tiber, this gets to be why some people can like LRBs, even on a (gasp) esthetic level.

For comparable historical reasons, I'm rooting for the Trajan sestertius showing the bridge across the Danube.  Right, once that minor logistical detail was done, the Dacians were kind of toast.  

And, well, anyone can be a fan of Marcus Aurelius.  From here, the patina and --yes, I said it-- wear make for a resonant esthetic convergence. 

I also really like the later Roman Republican denarius among your runner-ups.  Cf. @DonnaML's post, with lots of other funly late ones.   

 

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Thanks for the voting in the poll, and digital love for my list 🙂 Interesting to see your favorites! Its also good to see the Caligula sestertius is appreciated, despite its flaws! 

On 1/5/2024 at 11:09 PM, singig said:

Also , the Hadrian sestertius from the last photo is very attractive.

Thanks! He's a bit shy but after some thoughts he decided to show himself a bit more up close 😄 

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On 1/6/2024 at 12:20 AM, ambr0zie said:

Note - I am not a Trajan specialist, but I have witnessed some discussions about this type (Trajan coinage related to Dacia is very popular in my country so many collectors would like a coin with a Danube bridge). But the general opinion is that it displays the bridge over Tiber, not Apollodor's bridge over Danube. Of course in the end these are speculations as nobody can confirm, especially with a legend that doesn't clarify much.

Thanks! One of the reasons Philip Hill doubts the bridge on the coin is the Danube bridge, is that the bridge shown on Trajan's column look very different. He also mentions that as other architectural pictures on the reverses of coins struck under Trajan shows a large amount of realism, it's unlikely that this bridge is an artistical recreation. 

However, personally, (and I really need to do more reading before making this statement but I will allow myself to do it anyway) I think it might very well be the Danube bridge. At that time, it was the largest bridge in existence, and remained so over 1000 years (not that Trajan knew this). The engineering involved must have been unlike anything before, and I cannot imagine Trajan not wanting to boost his already splendid image by showing of this fantastic craftmanship. So why does this bridge look different compared to the bridge on the column? Well, first, I think looking at the pictures, the difference in not that big. E.g. the underside of the bridge on the coin shows several 'crossbeams' which are also clearly seen on the picture of the bridge on the column. Second, the bridge was over 1.100 meters long, 19 meters high, and 15 meters wide. Let that sink in. The size of this bridge would even be very impressive in todays standards, let alone in ancient times. How to put a bridge over 1100 meters long on a coin? Imagine this: if you are an artist, stand at the foot of the bridge at the rivers' edge, looking soemthing about 19 meters upwards: I think this is the perspective you see on the coin. 

On 1/5/2024 at 11:25 PM, DonnaML said:

Regarding the Caligula sestertius, what motive do you think would lead someone to file off the top surfaces of the devices like that? The same thing appears to have happened to Salus (especially her head) on the reverse of my Maximinus Thrax sestertius, and I don't really get it.

Thanks Donna! I don't think I'll be able to solve the mystery. The seller described it as follows: "Usure importante mais régulière"; i.e. "Significant but regular wear". It surely is regular... 😄 But also, the coins has been filed around the edges, to make the coin more rounded. That could imply that the piece was put into something and which was to appear round(ed) altogether. The filing is of later date I believe, there's no coloration whatsoever. Also, note the green stuff around the devices. Ive been able to gently pick some of it away with a toothpick. I have no idea what it is, but is seems some kind of wax like substance. I don't think that's it was used as a juwelry piece. Maybe there was a case of serious pitting on some of the higher parts of the devices, and someone in the past decided the file it all away? But that does not explain the wax like stuff. 

Your filing on the reverse seems to have taken on similar coloration / patination as the lower parts of the reverse (like in the fields). That would imply that the filing was done quite early. Also, it seems to be focussed on mainly the face and upper part of the body of Salus. Maybe a Roman got a bit angry, and was upset with his life of poverty and sickness, in stead of health and prosperity? 😁 Lot's to speculate on, but also much unanswered. 

 

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