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Best Decius portait


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20 hours ago, DonnaML said:

My two favorite Trajan Decius portraits, one Imperial and one Provincial:

Trajan Decius, AR Antoninianus, 249-250 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Radiate and cuirassed bust right, IMP C MA Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG / Rev. Dacia standing left, wearing cloak over left shoulder and, with right hand, holding Dacian battle-standard surmounted by Draco (dragon’s head or wolf’s head), D-A-CIA. RIC IV 12(b), RSC IV 16, Sear RCV III 9368. 22.28 mm., 4.09 g.


Trajan Decius, billon Tetradrachm, 249-251 AD, Syria, Antioch Mint. Obv. Radiate bust right, three pellets below (•••) (= 3rd Officina), ΑΥΤ Κ Γ ΜƐ ΚΥ ΔƐΚΙΟϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Eagle standing left on palm branch, head left, wings spread, wreath in beak, ΔΗΜΑΡΧ ƐΞΟΥϹΙΑϹ [= Tribunicia Potestas], in exergue: S C. [Group II, Officina 3.] RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Online IX 1644 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/9/1644 ); Prieur 540 (11), McAlee 1120c (Group 2) (see p. 368), BMC 586. 24 mm., 12.85 g.



PS: if the Antioch coin is later than the one from Rome, I think he must have had a hair transplant in between. Or was one of the several emperors to opt for a toupee.

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Just received this Sestertius of Decius off Ebay. I bought it for two reasons: 1. nice portrait and 2. very cheap (under 100 dollars). Clearly, the very small flan put off buyers, but I still thought the coin was worth having at this price. 

The reverse is DACIA FELIX (even if most of the legend is off flan)


Edited by Tejas
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Silver Coin (AR Antoninianus) minted at Rome during the reign of TRAJAN DECIUS between 249 - 251 A.D. Obv. IMP.C.M.Q.TRAINVS.DECIVS.AVG.: Bust, rad., dr., cuir. r. Rev. ABVNDANTIA.: Abundance stg. r., emptying cornucopia. RCS #2690. RSCIV #2. RICIV #S52. RCSVIII #9364.


My best portrait coin, see the wrinkles on his forehead.

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My latest buy would qualify.  Aside from a December buy, it has probably been ten years since I've bought a Decius.


Trajan Decius, 249-251. Æ Sestertius (30 mm, 16.08 g), Rome. Obv. IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG Laureate and cuirassed bust of Trajan Decius right. Rev. VICTORIA AVG S C Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm frond. RIC IV 126d; Cohen 117.


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A great set of Trajan Decius portraits in this thread - here's one for the pile from a Tetradrachm of Roman Egypt (first year of reign).


EGYPT, Alexandria. Trajan Decius. AD 249-251. Potin Tetradrachm. Dated RY 1 (AD 249/50). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind / Sarapis standing facing, head right, holding scepter; L A (date) across field. Köln 2815; Dattari 10493; K&G 79.18; RPC IX 2253 https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/9/2253; Emmett 3644.1.


Edited by Sulla80
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@DimitriosL, after seeing your thread on the home page for days, with mild interest (not having collected very much Roman in years), I'm glad I finally gave it a look!

What really makes me sit up in my chair, about the initial example that got away, along with everyone's kaleidescopic array of other ones, is the level of sheer artistry in the portraits, if not naturalism per se, persisting as late as this.  The best of the engravers are really perpetuating the tradition going back to the Julio-Claudians.  That's kind of great.

Regarding their verisimilitude, a good point of comparison is contemporary sculpture.  ...No idea why it went downhill so fast in both media, only slightly later.  (In the antoniani, I have to date the onset from the later, flatter renditions of Gallienus as sole emperor --still in contrast to the sculpture!)  But just from Wiki, there are these portrait sculptures of Decius, registering his age with the same level of nuance as the antoniniani (instant edit:), and the cool diversity of other denominations --shout-out, just for one, to @Sulla80

White statue

A marble statue of Emperor Decius dressed as Hercules, discovered January 25th of 2023 during sewer repair works in Rome.


Wikimedia Commons only has more renditions of these.  Here's the article.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decius 

Edited by JeandAcre
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There have been many Decius tetradrachms from Antioch offered recently. To me, they seem well-worth their auction prices. I've been thinking of bidding because many are so attractive, but then I look at this one I already have, bought in 2014, and I decide I don't need a duplicate. 

27-25 mm. 12.64 grams.
Prier 542
Four dots below the bust for the officina. Struck 249-250.


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@DimitriosL, thinking about your questions which I didn't address in my previous post.  @Octavius @Ursus, @Tejas have clearly illustrated the amazing portraits that can be found on this small silver format - I do wonder if the better portrait artists might have been assigned to the large bronzes having gained experience on the antoniniani and certainly gold coins like @panzerman's would have had best trained artists.  If the coins in the market today might be a reasonable indicator of the number of coins issued during Trajan Decius' reign there are (very roughly) twice as many sestertii as aureii and 5 times as many antoniniani as sestertii.   I would look to @Valentinian and others who could critically evaluate my crude assumption about relationship between issued and marketed coins: simple counts in ACSearch show ~200 aureii; 500 Setstertii; 2500 Antoniniani for Trajan Decius (with quite a few of the earlier Trajan's coins in the mix).  The simple math says : more people would be needed to make dies for Antoniniani than for the other types.

Is it knowable how die makers learned their craft and were applied in mints? perhaps not, but it seems that patterns could emerge from the data, and one could even look for indicators of style that might show how a given die maker moved between metal types.  Perhaps as AI tools for querying portraits emerge, we might see tasks like this (die studies of various types) become less daunting/tedious.


"How close to life?"...perhaps unknowable, but a systematic study of sculpture, portraits, and coins seems like a reasonable way to go.  You might enjoy this site:


Daniel Voshart's Roman Emperor Project https://voshart.com/roman-emperor-project Using the neural-net (Machine Learning) tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, he created photorealistic portraits of Roman Emperors from 800 busts for 54 portraits.

Edited by Sulla80
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10 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

I do wonder if the better portrait artists might have been assigned to the large bronzes having gained experience on the antoniniani and certainly gold coins like @panzerman's would have had best trained artists.

that actually makes sense. It is imo extremely intriguing how different engravers produce different portaits. The big differences between mints appear during times of crisis, from what i ve seen, like the 3rd century. Perhaps quality control wasnt a priority. Nice subtopic btw, which mints stayed consistent quality wise duriing the empire.

yes i ve seen the site, fascinating stuff! Humanizes them in a surreal way.

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