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Faustina Friday – A Coin of British Association

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have an enjoyable, coin-filled weekend ahead. Today we'll discuss one of many similar reverse types of Faustina the Elder depicting Ceres standing and holding a single torch. Elsewhere, I have previously written an overview of these types, in which I extrapolated data from Beckmann's die-linkage studies of the aurei of Faustina the Elder that dated many of these coins to 145-150 CE,[1] and initially dated coins of this reverse type to 145-147. We should be cautious, however, because it is not possible to use Beckmann to securely date the quinarius aureus, denarius, middle bronze denominations and many sestertii because they fall outside of the purview of his die-linkage study of the aurei of the empress. While Beckmann did attempt a die-linkage study of her sestertii, he was not able to construct a die-linkage chain for many of the sestertius types, such as the reverse design under discussion in this installment. I will discuss this further, below.

This installment will examine the reverse type depicting Ceres veiled, standing facing, head left, holding short torch and grain ears and featuring the AVGVSTA legend. This coin was only issued in the bronze denominations. I illustrate the sestertius and dupondius of this reverse type below with specimens in my personal collection.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 28.45 g, 33.4 mm, 12 h.
Rome, 154-155 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTA S C, Ceres veiled, standing facing, head left, holding short torch in right hand and grain ears in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1118; BMCRE 1514-1515; Cohen 88; Strack 1287; Sear RCV—.
Notes: Curtis Clay has identified this issue as a coin of British Association.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum dupondius, 12.08 g, 26.5 mm, 5 h.
Rome, 154-155 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
Ceres veiled, standing facing, head left, holding short torch in right hand and grain ears in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1171; BMCRE 1568-71; Cohen 89; Strack 1287; Sear RCV 4646.
Notes: Curtis Clay has identified this issue as a coin of British Association.

This reverse type as a coin of British association

I have previously discussed the coins of British Association here and elsewhere. These coins comprised a large shipment of bronze coins to Britain in 155 CE, as shown by the coin finds at Bath. Dated to 154/55 CE is the Britannia type of Antoninus Pius (RIC 934) which comprised 213 out of 299 (71%) of Antonine asses found in the Bath deposit. Dated by tribunician power to the same year is a Mars type of Marcus Caesar (58% at Bath).[2] Walker and later Moorhead[3] therefore date the latest coins of the deposit to a reasonable 153-155 CE. Our own @curtislclay dates these British association issues to 154-155 CE.[4] The Bath deposit, unsurprisingly, contained coins dating as early as 97 CE, during the reign of Nerva,[5] and the date of 154/55 CE can only be taken as the hoard's terminus ante quem. The coins of 154-155 CE appear to have been struck specifically for delivery to Britain, and it is to these later issues that the term "coins of British association" applies. Curtis Clay's paper notes that this particular reverse type was the second most common type for Faustina the Elder found in the deposit at Bath, and he states these were likely contemporaneous with the TR POT VIII-VIIII issues of Marcus Aurelius found in the hoard, dating them from 154 to 155 CE.[6]

Beckmann's die-linkage study of the sestertii of Faustina the Elder is of no help in establishing a date. Beckmann identified two reverse dies of this type, each linked to a single obverse die, but was unable to fit this small linkage group within a larger framework and cannot establish a relative chronology, much less an absolute one.


Beckmann's Sestertius Group 22 depicts this reverse type but is not linked to an overall die-chain.[7] Therefore, a relative chronology cannot be established for sestertii of this reverse type. The specimen in my collection was struck with a different die-pair.

Therefore, we may only take Beckmann's date of 145-147 CE, based upon the appearance of an aureus with a similar, but not identical, reverse type,[8] as a terminus post quem, but not as a solid date for all the issues depicting Ceres holding a single torch. Given that there are nine reverse types depicting Ceres holding a single torch or scepter, it seems unreasonable that all these reverse types would have been issued over a two-year time span. Moreover, even though the Bath Hoard, discussed by Walker and by Curtis Clay, contained coins as old as the reign of Nerva, it seems unreasonable that a reverse type of 145-147 CE should be the second most common type of Faustina the Elder in a deposit dating to 154-155 CE. And why would this coin, if struck in Rome years earlier than the shipment to Britain in 154-155 CE, be so closely associated with Britain and not found more frequently elsewhere across the empire? For these reasons, I concur with Curtis and date the reverse type to 154-155 CE.

What is it with all these Faustina coins depicting Ceres, anyway?

There are a disproportionate number of coins depicting Ceres that were issued for Faustina and this is not coincidental. Andreas Alföldi argues that the connection between the empress and Ceres goes beyond mere concern over the grain supply or her devotion to the goddess.[9] It is more personal; Antoninus Pius was devoted to the sanctuary at Eleusis,[10] which had a temple where Faustina was worshiped as the new Demeter (Ceres) and had her own hierophant.[11]

Do you have any coins of this reverse type? Any thoughts about the reasoning behind dating the coins? As always, post coins, comments, or anything you feel is relevant!



1. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 51ff.

2. Walker, D. R. Roman Coins from the Sacred Spring at Bath. Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, Fascicle 2 of Monograph No. 16, Oxford, 1988, pp. 294-95.

3. Moorhead, op. cit.

4. Clay, Curtis L. "
The Supply of Bronze Coins to Britain in the Second Century." Numismatic Chronicle, vol. 149, 1989, pp. 213-15.

5. Moorhead, op. cit., pp. 1-2.

6. Clay, op. cit., p. 215, notes four dupondii and six asses of this type in the hoard. He does not comment on any sestertii of this reverse type, and I presume there were none in the hoard at Bath.

7. Beckmann, op. cit., Die Chart 17.

8. AVGVSTA, Ceres veiled, standing facing, head left, holding short torch and scepter.

9. Alföldi, Andreas. "Redeunt Saturnia Regna. VII : Frugifer-Triptolemos Im Ptolemaïsch -Römischen Herrscherkult." Chiron, vol. 9, 1979, pp. 552–606, specifically pp. 586-589.

10. Eleusis, in the outskirts of Athens, of Eleusian mysteries fame. These mysteries involved elaborate rituals devoted to the worship of Demeter (Ceres).

11. Mylonas, George E. Eleusis and the Eleusian Mysteries. Princeton University Press, 1961, pp 155, 179.

Edited by Roman Collector
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The part of Friday I always look forward to. Reading and learning anything Faustina related. This installment is not a dissapointment.  I can share a Diva Faustina with an Avgvsta, Ceres reverse, but it is a denarius of different issue and type

Faustina Sr AR Denarius, RIC 361, RSC 101a, BMC 417, SEAR 4583. DIVA FAVSTINA, with elaborate hairstyle and draped bust right / AVGV-STA, Ceres standing left, long hair tied behind, raising right hand & holding long torch with left.
Rome mint, A.D. 141.  3,0 g - 15 mm


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Excellent write up, as always! Pretty funny how they made a momma bird getting ready to regurgitate food into its baby's mouth look like a rocking party😄

Best I can offer is a sitting Ceres of Sabina:



Dupondius, 136 CE 

Mint: Rome 

26.3 mm, 10,2 g.

Obverse legend : SABINA AVGVSTA - HADRIANI AVG PP, Obverse: Diadémé bust and drape of Sabina on the right, hair raised, artistically capped. Reverse: Veiled and draped Ceres, seated left on a basket, holding ears of corn in right hand and torch in left hand

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