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A new Pachyderm


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Although the order denominated Pachydermata (from the Greek for "thick skin") is an obsolete taxonomic classification in the world of science*, the large mammals it encompassed -- elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and tapirs (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachydermata ) -- still form, except for the last, a useful and appealing category for purposes of collecting ancient coins. (If anyone has an ancient coin depicting a tapir, it's definitely a front-page story!) 

*It seems that genetically speaking, elephants are most closely related to manatees and dugongs, hippos to whales, and rhinos to horses, zebras, and tapirs.

In any event, I have more than a dozen pachyderms in my collection, including this new acquisition that just arrived:

Tiberius, AE Obol, Year 5 (AD 18/19), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Bare head of Tiberius right (anepigraphic) / Rev. Hippopotamus standing right; ΤΙΒΕΡΙΟΥ above; in exergue, LE (Year 5). 20 mm., 4.34 g. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. I 5082 (1992); RPC I Online at  https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/1/5082 ; Emmett 62.5 at p. 9 corr. (hippo stands right, not left as stated in Emmett) [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria 57-58 at p. 7 [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; K & G 5.10 (ill. p. 47) [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria  (2008)]; Milne 36 at p. 2 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Dattari (1901 ed.) 101 at p. 6 [Dattari, Giovanni, Monete imperiali greche, Numi Augg. Alexandrini, Catalogo della collezione (Cairo 1901)]; SNG France 4, Alexandrie I 98-101 (ill. Pl. 7) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France Vol. 4, Alexandrie I, Auguste-Trajan (Zurich 1998)]; Sear RCV I 1777 (ill. p. 349) (identified as hemiobol). (15 specimens in ACSearch; 23 in RPC.) Purchased from Naville Numismatics Ltd., Mayfair, London, UK, Auction 88, 7 April 2024, Lot 196.


Here, without the writeups, are my three other hippos (issued in the names of Claudius I, Hadrian, and Otacilia Severa), my one lonely rhino (issued under Domitian), and my herd of 14 elephants on ten coins  (issued over a 375-year period beginning in 128 BCE). Please post your own pachyderms!















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Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.

Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

~ Ogden Nash

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Posted · Supporter

What is better than a new pachyderm coin? A great new acquisition, @DonnaML!

My own hippo is pretty worn, as seems to be the case for most of this type.


Time of Claudius
AE Diobol (22.41mm, 5.79g, 1h)
Struck AD 41-46
Obverse: ΤΙ ΚΛΑV ΚΑΙ ϹƐΒΑϹ ΓƐΡΜΑ, laureate head of Claudius right, star to lower right
Reverse: ΑVΤΟΚΡΑ, hippopotamus standing right, [uncertain] date in exergue
cf. RPC I 5124
Worn surfaces with edge irregularity. A decent hippopotamus.

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Very nice – that's a hippo type I was not aware of.

My only hippopotamus is this sestertius of Otacilia Severa:


Otacilia Severa, Roman Empire, AE sestertius, 248 AD, Rome mint. Obv: MARCIA OTACIL SEVERA AVG; bust of Otacilia Severa, diademed, draped, r. Rev: SAECULARES AVGG SC; Hippopotamus walking r. 28mm, 17.39g. Ref: Ref: RIC IV, Philip I 200.

I'll refrain from posting my herd of ancient elephants, which all of you have seen way too often, but I can't quite stop myself from showing this lovely little medieval critter:


Breisgau, Counts of Staufen (?), AR bracteate penny (“vierzipfliger Pfennig”), c. 1330–1360. Obv.: elephant l., palanquin on back. Rev.: incuse design (bracteate). 17mm, 0.28g. Berger 2438; Wielandt (Breisgau) 50; Slg. Wüthrich 55–56; Slg. Bonhoff 1786.

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Great coins all. Definitely a fun sub-collection theme. Here is my only elephant.

Roman Empire
TITUS (79-81)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck Jan. 1 - Jul. 1, AD 80
(3.36 g, 17 mm)
Obv.: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M, Laureate head left
Rev.: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P, Elephant advancing left
Ref.: RIC II (1926) 22b; RIC II.1 (2007) 116
Ex Numismatik Naumann Auction 131, lot 658 (August 6, 2023)

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Philip I. 244-249 AD. Æ Sestertius (30mm, 17.75 gm, 12h). Commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Rome. Rome mint, 1st officina. 10th emission, 249 AD. Obv: Laur. draped, and cuirassed bust right. Rev: Elephant advancing l., led by mahout, holding staff and goad. RIC IV 167a; Banti 8.



Edited by PeteB
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Great pachyderm sub-zoo. I will bring some friends for them. 

My first elephant, a Seleukid Antiochos III Megas 


Septimius Severus denarius 



Rhinoceros, on a Domitian quadrans 



Hippopotamus, on a Claudius diobol from Alexandria. 


Edited by ambr0zie
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  • 3 weeks later...

Phraates II Chalkous, 132-127BC
Ekbatana, Parthian Kingdom. Bronze, 15mm, 1.68g. Diademed, short-bearded bust left, no symbols, circular border of pellets. Elephant advancing right on exergual line; no border; legends to left and right, four-line Greek inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΘΕΟΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ (Of Great King Arsaces, of Divine Descent) (Sellwood 16.29).

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What a proud pack of pachyderms!

I have an Indian elephant to add to the mix:


Vasisthiputra Pulumavi, India, Satavahana Empire, 78 – 114 AD

AE18, 18mm, 2.63 grams; Obv: RANO SRI PULUMAVISA ('King, Lord Pulumavi' in Brahmi) Elephant with raised trunk standing to right. Rev: Four-orbed Ujjain symbol surmounted by crescent. Pieper 685. ex. Leu, web auction 25, lot 1338. 2023. Dr Björn-Uwe Abels collection.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is one of my favorites of my pachyderms...  Kinda hard to get.


Etruria 3rd C BCE AE 18mm 4.76g Hd African r Elephant r letter below SNG Cop 48 HNI 69 SNG Paris 138-140 SNG Morcom 44 R


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