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Probus - Alexandria - Eagle


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I have been collecting Probus coins for over 20 years and one of my sub-collections is his coinage from Alexandria. I have not added a new coin to this sub-collection for a few years as I seem to be chasing coins that only come onto the market quite rarely and with some, when they do come on the market the feeding frenzy around them makes them to prohibitively expensive for me to get it when it is offered.

All that being said I have just added a coin to this sub-collection.

Probus, Billon tetradrachm

Obv:– A K M AVP PROBOC CEB, Laureate, cuirassed bust right
Rev:– None, Eagle standing right, head left wreath in beak
Minted in Alexandria Egypt. (L | D) Year 4. A.D. 278-279
Reference(s) – Milne -. Emmett 3983(4) - Curtis -. BMC -. Köln -; Dattari -. All unlisted for this regnal year. This reverse type is listed in the refences for years 1, 2 and 5)

6.73 gms, 19.37 mm. 0 degrees

This is one of the five (5) eagle reverse types known for Probus.


The type is not scarce but is apparently not published for this regnal year.

Not eanting to take the appearance of an unpublished regnal year at face value I have been discussing this coin with someone (I am not sure that I am free to name them here and thus I will not) and the following challenges to this coin have been gone through.

Year 1 coins are in general much scarcer than most later coins due to the short duration of the regnal year. It not not unknown for later coins to be tooled to make them appear to come from year 1. Cound this be the converse where a year 1 coin has had the regnal year modified to create an unpublished regnal year.

To challenge this I provided a more detailed image of the reverse. This allows inspection of the regnal year in more detail. The serifs are clearly visible on the corners of the Delta and there are flowlines in the fields which give the best indication that these areas have not been modified.


The next challenge is more difficult to challenge. The bust is quite large compared to others in this issue and is more consistent with earlier years. The best way to progress this is to perform a die analysis and find an obverse die match to as many examples as possible to see what regnal years the obverse die turns up for. This would then allow some further analysis to occur to answer some questions. During what regnal years were this obverse die use? Are there other examples of this die in Year 4? If the die is used across regnal years then are there other examples of an obverse die being used across regnal years for this period?

Thus far I have not made any progress as I have not been able to find any obverse die matches. I will continue this activity.

As such there is no reason to doubt that it ia what it appears to be, which is an unpublished regnal year for the type.

Just for comparison here are my examples of Years 1, 2 and 5.

Year 1 is very much like an Aurelian portrait


Year 2 - (needs a new photo)


Year 5 (also needs a new photo)


The other eagle reverse types are:-

Emmett 3981 - Eagle standing right, palm on wing, wreath in beak


Emmett 3982 - Eagle standing right, head right, wings spread, wreath in beak


Emmett 3984 - Eagle standing left, head turned right, wreath in beak


Emmett 3985 - Eagle standing facing left, head right, with wreath in beak




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It's very nice to see a date run of a single emperor/reverse type like this @maridvnvm.  It inspired me to look for Probus Egyptian eagles in my own collection - I had more than I thought:


L-H  Milne 4655; Emmett 3984 (8) R2;. Curtis -.


L-Є  Milne 4610; Dattari 5553; Emmett 3984-5.



L-Z Milne 4640; Dattari 5555; Emmett 3984.


L-Δ Milne 4587; BMC 2440.


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Congratulations! The coin certainly appears entirely genuine to me, even if it's rather astonishing to discover a previously-unknown date of a particular type in a series (Roman Alexandria) that's been so thoroughly studied for well over a century.

I can tell you that there's no listing for a Probus Year 4 reverse depicting an eagle standing right with its head turned back to the left in any of the three Roman Alexandrian catalogs (all German-language) that I own beyond the ones you listed -- namely, Förschner (1987), Kampmann & Ganschow (2008), and Kellner (2009). 

That's certainly a very distinctive obverse portrait, so if an obverse die match exists, it shouldn't be difficult for you to recognize it.

My only Probus from Roman Alexandria is this one. Not an eagle reverse of any kind!

Probus, billon tetradrachm, 277-278 AD (Year 3), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate and cuirassed bust right, A K M AV ΠPOBOC CEB / Rev. Eirene [= Pax] standing left, wearing long chiton and peplos, holding long scepter obliquely with left hand and olive branch with right; L Γ [Year 3] in lower left field. Dattari 5529; Emmett 3986.3; Milne 4550 at p. 109 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Kellner Teil 19 p. 56 (ill. p. 147, Abb. 15-16) [Wendelin Kellner, Die Münzstätte Alexandria in Ägypten (Vienna 2009); BMC 16 Alexandria 2413 p. 313; Sear RCV III 12124 (ill.). 23 mm., 8.7 g., 12 h.  Purchased from JAZ Numismatics Auction 183 (John Anthony), May 2021, ex Sallent Collection, ex Bertolami e-auction 41, lot 292, April 30, 2017.

Bertolami photo:


JAZ Photo:


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There are a few types which are only known for very few examples. I am still chasing after the "Emperor on horseback left, holding sceptre obliquely in left hand and
raising right hand." type.

I did manage to obtain this scarce type.

Obv:– A K M AVP PROBOC CEB, Laureate, cuirassed bust right
Rev:– None, Nike advancing left, holding wreath in both hands
Minted in Alexandria, Egypt. Year 3. (LГ in left field)
Milne 4555. Curtis -, Emmett 3992(3)R5. BMC -.

9.22 gms

Ex-Olympus Coins February 1992. Ex-Keith Emmett Collection.


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My only Probus tet.



Probus (276 - 282 A.D.)

Egypt, Alexandria
Potin Tetradrachm
O: A K M AVP PROBOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
R: Eagle standing right, head right, wings spread, wreath in beak; L to left, ς to right. Dated RY 6 (280/81 AD)
Alexandria Mint
Milne 4631. Emmett 3982 (6) R1. Curtis 1872

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Some stunning examples...none of mine from this period look that good, but it was still a nice occasion to dig around my little box of ones I haven't looked at in a while.

I just photographed this one now. Eagle RY 4.... But I'm assuming this is an Aurelian? Can't quite read the legend, so I need to keep trying to figure this one out:



Here's my Probus Eagle RY 5. Please pardon the ugly!



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