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New coin - a very special Commodus As


CPK

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Been awhile since I was this excited about a coin! 😁

I was browsing the new inventory of a well-known dealer and saw an as of Commodus listed for sale. It was the excellent portrait which first caught my eye. I kept browsing other coins, but made a mental note to go back and take a closer look later.

(dealer photo)

59995.jpg.e015cc2010d87d2d303f66b441341395.jpg

 

In addition to the portrait, the coin is beautifully patinated. I also noticed that it was an interesting VOTA type, from the Jeff Clark VOTA Collection. As a collector of unusual as types, I did what I usually do when interested in a Roman coin – reach for the appropriate volume of Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values and look it up.

My eyes nearly popped out when I saw this! 😮

 

20240424_064239.jpg.99f667606f01e8752654360cad611431.jpg

 

Is that the same coin?? I could hardly believe it! The listing did not mention anything about it being a plate coin. Could I be mistaken? I scrutinized both coin images. No question about it – it was the same coin! How on earth could a Sear plate coin lose such a provenance?? No matter, that was enough to push me over the edge! I bought the coin.

Being so caught up in the excitement of discovering a plate coin, I hadn't noticed before that the rarity rating given in the dealer listing was 8/10. It's not even listed in RIC (that reference only recognizes this type as a dupondius.) There is one specimen in the British Museum collection, No. 566:

coin | British Museum

mid_00671023_001.jpg.104bc51dcc80c79aefb5633f5dd0e1d9.jpg

 

I did an exhaustive search on ACSearch and other archives but only found three other specimens. It was while searching Coryssa, the database created by our member @rasiel, that I came across this:

 

Coryssa - The Coin Auctions Database - Coryssa - The Coin Auctions Database

997540(1).jpg.148e9c5d1bd4b231b67331a5fb4bf57b.jpg

 

The same coin! Apparently, it was auctioned off by Numismatic Fine Arts on December 10, 1980. Turning to rnumis (thank you @rNumis!) I found the complete auction catalog. There was the coin – lot 537 – misdescribed as a dupondius, which hammered for $100 on a $200 estimate:

Ancient coins. Auction IX : 10 décembre 1980 / Numismatic Fine Arts | Gallica (bnf.fr)

Screenshot2024-04-26204349.png.dd80400653f5f4304bd0e3f3bbcd9a78.png

Ancient_coins_Auction_IX___..._bpt6k98130889.JPEG.df49df7a278c7cd13fccb5c696a71f78.JPEG

How did this coin end up being illustrated in RCV? Thanks to a CT thread by our valued member @Curtis JJ, I learned that David Sear was a cataloguer for a number of NFA auctions, and used some of the coins in his RCV reference books. Check out the thread and Curtis's awesome Philip I plate coin here:

https://www.cointalk.com/threads/finding-provenance.403741/page-2

 

So to make a long story short, I am now the proud owner of a Sear plate coin – which also happens to be an extremely rare type, has a terrific portrait, a beautiful patina, and an interesting collection provenance. Doesn’t get much better than that! 😁

Feel free to comment/post your own surprise plate coins, provenance discoveries, Commodus coins, or anything else!

 

CommodusAsVOTSVSC.jpg.cf6cf4e9bb10e0e333c18e624844eb42.jpg

COMMODUS, AD 180-192
AE As (24.84mm, 7.59g, 11h)
Struck AD 185. Rome mint
Obverse: M COMM ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT, laureate head of Commodus right
Reverse: VOT SVSC DEC P M TR P X IMP VII, Commodus, togate, standing left, sacrificing over tripod-altar; COS IIII P P in exergue, S C across fields
References: RIC - , BMC 566, RCV 5897 (this coin illustrated)
An extremely rare type, with a fine portrait and rich emerald patina. This coin is the illustrated plate coin in David R. Sear's popular reference series
Roman Coins and Their Values (Vol. II, p. 411)
From the Jeff Clark VOTA Collection.

 

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Wonderful coin Connor and congratulations on the truly awesome discovery! You are on a roll with great additions lately.

Several of my Commodus coins have special provenances. I posted about my newest provenance discovery here.

This coin is special because it came from the collection of my friend Jamesicus who passed away and is still very missed.

Commodus_Brit_Denarius_Ex_Jamesicus.jpeg.dbb227946acad9119cd862c0cfd994d8.jpegRoman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 187
Dia.: 18 mm
Wt.: 2.77 g
Obv.: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT; Laureate bust right
Rev.: AVCT PIET P M TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P; Pietas standing left, sacrificing over altar with incense and patera, holding box.
Ref.: RIC III 146, scarce
Ex James Pickering Collection of Britannic Coinage; AMCC 1, lot 158 (Dec. 1, 2018)

This coin is begging for more research. It was purchased in the 1960s from Prof. Luigi De Nicola. I suspect it is published in one of his fixed price lists but I currently don’t have access to any of his lists and I have not come across any for sale. Some day I’ll find it though.

Commodus_as_Herc_Den.jpeg.9ab20b357763ff4c716951657c0126f0.jpeg
Roman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 192
Dia.: 17 mm
Wt.: 2.66 g
Obv.: L AEL AVREL COMMA VG P FEL; Commodus bust right wearing lion skin on head.
Rev.: HER-CVL RO-MAN AV-GV; Club in wreath
Ref.: RIC III 251, Scarce
Ex W.F. Stoeckin Collection, Amriswil (1888-1975†), acquired in the 1960s from Prof. Luigi De Nicola (Rome), Obolos 9, lot 329 (March 25, 2018)

Edited by Curtisimo
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Great coin and great sleuthing, @CPK.  I really like the coins of Commodus - I do not have the as/dupondius, but I do have a sestertius of this VOT type.  The condition is poor, so I am unsure of the attribution because I cannot make out the TRP number. 

image.jpeg.51adc4d01c3bb825f0479883e9cdfcd8.jpeg

Commodus  Æ Sestertius (c. 184-185 A.D.) Rome Mint M COMMODVS ANTON AV[G PI]VS BRIT, laureate head r. / VOTA SVS[CEP DECEN P M TR P VIIII (or X?) IMP VII], [COS II]II PP in exergue, S-[C], Commodus standing l. at tripod. RIC III 441; BMCRE 552 note; Cohen RSC 988.  See notes. (21.03 grams / 29 mm) eBay Nov. 2018 $14.00 BIN  

 RIC 441c:  TRP VIIII 184 A.D.

RIC 454Aa:  TRP X 184-185 "

 Obverse die-match has unclear reverse, so I am not sure about VAuctions RIC 441 attribution. Die-Match Obverse:   VAuctions Auction 268; Lot 166; 18.08.2011

 Here is a VOT denarius from very late in his reign.  Promises, promises!

image.jpeg.3ee6b34a2d11f1830450cab40b2f207c.jpeg

Commodus  Denarius (191-192 A.D.) Rome Mint L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right / VOTA SOLV PRO SAL PR, Commodus standing left, sacrificing out of a patera over tripod altar, prostrate bull left RIC 262; RSC 984; Sear 5725.  (2.60 grams / 17 mm) A-Z Aug. 14, 2017 $18.00

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, CPK said:

Been awhile since I was this excited about a coin! 😁

I was browsing the new inventory of a well-known dealer and saw an as of Commodus listed for sale. It was the excellent portrait which first caught my eye. I kept browsing other coins, but made a mental note to go back and take a closer look later.

(dealer photo)

59995.jpg.e015cc2010d87d2d303f66b441341395.jpg

 

In addition to the portrait, the coin is beautifully patinated. I also noticed that it was an interesting VOTA type, from the Jeff Clark VOTA Collection. As a collector of unusual as types, I did what I usually do when interested in a Roman coin – reach for the appropriate volume of Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values and look it up.

My eyes nearly popped out when I saw this! 😮

 

20240424_064239.jpg.99f667606f01e8752654360cad611431.jpg

 

Is that the same coin?? I could hardly believe it! The listing did not mention anything about it being a plate coin. Could I be mistaken? I scrutinized both coin images. No question about it – it was the same coin! How on earth could a Sear plate coin lose such a provenance?? No matter, that was enough to push me over the edge! I bought the coin.

Being so caught up in the excitement of discovering a plate coin, I hadn't noticed before that the rarity rating given in the dealer listing was 8/10. It's not even listed in RIC (that reference only recognizes this type as a dupondius.) There is one specimen in the British Museum collection, No. 566:

coin | British Museum

mid_00671023_001.jpg.104bc51dcc80c79aefb5633f5dd0e1d9.jpg

 

I did an exhaustive search on ACSearch and other archives but only found three other specimens. It was while searching Coryssa, the database created by our member @rasiel, that I came across this:

 

Coryssa - The Coin Auctions Database - Coryssa - The Coin Auctions Database

997540(1).jpg.148e9c5d1bd4b231b67331a5fb4bf57b.jpg

 

The same coin! Apparently, it was auctioned off by Numismatic Fine Arts on December 10, 1980. Turning to rnumis (thank you @rNumis!) I found the complete auction catalog. There was the coin – lot 537 – misdescribed as a dupondius, which hammered for $100 on a $200 estimate:

Ancient coins. Auction IX : 10 décembre 1980 / Numismatic Fine Arts | Gallica (bnf.fr)

Screenshot2024-04-26204349.png.dd80400653f5f4304bd0e3f3bbcd9a78.png

Ancient_coins_Auction_IX___..._bpt6k98130889.JPEG.df49df7a278c7cd13fccb5c696a71f78.JPEG

How did this coin end up being illustrated in RCV? Thanks to a CT thread by our valued member @Curtis JJ, I learned that David Sear was a cataloguer for a number of NFA auctions, and used some of the coins in his RCV reference books. Check out the thread and Curtis's awesome Philip I plate coin here:

https://www.cointalk.com/threads/finding-provenance.403741/page-2

 

So to make a long story short, I am now the proud owner of a Sear plate coin – which also happens to be an extremely rare type, has a terrific portrait, a beautiful patina, and an interesting collection provenance. Doesn’t get much better than that! 😁

Feel free to comment/post your own surprise plate coins, provenance discoveries, Commodus coins, or anything else!

 

CommodusAsVOTSVSC.jpg.cf6cf4e9bb10e0e333c18e624844eb42.jpg

COMMODUS, AD 180-192
AE As (24.84mm, 7.59g, 11h)
Struck AD 185. Rome mint
Obverse: M COMM ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT, laureate head of Commodus right
Reverse: VOT SVSC DEC P M TR P X IMP VII, Commodus, togate, standing left, sacrificing over tripod-altar; COS IIII P P in exergue, S C across fields
References: RIC - , BMC 566, RCV 5897 (this coin illustrated)
An extremely rare type, with a fine portrait and rich emerald patina. This coin is the illustrated plate coin in David R. Sear's popular reference series
Roman Coins and Their Values (Vol. II, p. 411)
From the Jeff Clark VOTA Collection.

 

That is a gorgeous coin! It has a very well-executed portrait and a lovely patina. Frankly, I'm surprised it didn't fetch more attention at the NFA auction back in 1980, but the medium bronze denominations are often ignored, with the well-heeled collectors preferring pretty (by which I mean smoothed and tooled) sestertii. What a surprise provenance that one has!! 

While I haven't found a forgotten Sear provenance, I have researched coins only to see the same specimen in RPC. This first happened with a coin from Bizya:

OtaciliaSeveraBizya.jpg.88c2996c6e94469c60963d849d834bec.jpg
Otacilia Severa, 244-249 CE.
Roman provincial Æ 23.5 mm, 6.89 gm, 7 h.
Thrace, Bizya, 244-249 CE.
Obv: M WTAKEIΛIA CEBHPA CEB, diademed and draped bust, right.
Rev: ΒΙΖVΗΝΩΝ, Artemis standing right, holding arrow and torch; stag at her feet.
Refs: Tachev, Bizija 5 (this coin); RPC VIII, (unassigned; ID 48718); Moushmov 3514; Sear GIC 3991; Varbanov 1592; Lindgren II 759; Jurukova 147; Mionnet Suppl 2, 193.
Notes: Double die-match to RPC specimen and to Lindgren II 759.

It turns out to be the same specimen illustrated in Tachev's Bizija, the plate of which was reproduced at RPC:

OtaciliaSeveraBizyaTachevBizija5(RPC).jpg.d4ff880fff97e548a9119d1ad966d335.jpg


This one turned out to be an exemplar at RPC, too. I was researching the coin after its arrival in the mail and saw it was the same specimen as one illustrated in RPC.

FaustinaJrTraianopolisHomonoia.jpg.12788f0829b54c2ef05b441d2ad94d6d.jpg
Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman provincial Æ double unit, 6.47 g, 20.5 mm, 6 h.
Thrace, Trajanopolis, 154-175 CE.
Obv: ΦΑVϹΤΕΙΝΑ ϹΕΒΑϹΤΗ, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ, Homonoia standing left, holding patera and cornucopiae.
Refs: RPC IV.1, 1931-4 (temporary; this coin); Corpus Nummorum 54271 and 3791; Moushmov 5000; Schönert-Geiß, MATT p. 163, nr. 16-17; von Aulock Phryg. II, 1484 (corr.).
Notes: Ex-Frank Sternberg Auction 25, lot 352, 25 November 1991.

The photo at RPC was cited from a Frank Sternberg auction from 1991.

FaustinaJrTraianopolisHomonoiaRPC.jpg.953dd9ffdaa7db86bb03863be274b361.jpg

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Posted · Supporter
9 hours ago, Curtisimo said:

Wonderful coin Connor and congratulations on the truly awesome discovery! You are on a roll with great additions lately.

Several of my Commodus coins have special provenances. I posted about my newest provenance discovery here.

This coin is special because it came from the collection of my friend Jamesicus who passed away and is still very missed.

Commodus_Brit_Denarius_Ex_Jamesicus.jpeg.dbb227946acad9119cd862c0cfd994d8.jpegRoman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 187
Dia.: 18 mm
Wt.: 2.77 g
Obv.: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT; Laureate bust right
Rev.: AVCT PIET P M TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P; Pietas standing left, sacrificing over altar with incense and patera, holding box.
Ref.: RIC III 146, scarce
Ex James Pickering Collection of Britannic Coinage; AMCC 1, lot 158 (Dec. 1, 2018)

This coin is begging for more research. It was purchased in the 1960s from Prof. Luigi De Nicola. I suspect it is published in one of his fixed price lists but I currently don’t have access to any of his lists and I have not come across any for sale. Some day I’ll find it though.

Commodus_as_Herc_Den.jpeg.9ab20b357763ff4c716951657c0126f0.jpeg
Roman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 192
Dia.: 17 mm
Wt.: 2.66 g
Obv.: L AEL AVREL COMMA VG P FEL; Commodus bust right wearing lion skin on head.
Rev.: HER-CVL RO-MAN AV-GV; Club in wreath
Ref.: RIC III 251, Scarce
Ex W.F. Stoeckin Collection, Amriswil (1888-1975†), acquired in the 1960s from Prof. Luigi De Nicola (Rome), Obolos 9, lot 329 (March 25, 2018)

Thanks Curtis! Great coins & provenances, especially the Commodus-as-Hercules denarius - that is some eye-catching toning on the reverse! 🤩

4 hours ago, Marsyas Mike said:

Great coin and great sleuthing, @CPK.  I really like the coins of Commodus - I do not have the as/dupondius, but I do have a sestertius of this VOT type.  The condition is poor, so I am unsure of the attribution because I cannot make out the TRP number. 

image.jpeg.51adc4d01c3bb825f0479883e9cdfcd8.jpeg

Commodus  Æ Sestertius (c. 184-185 A.D.) Rome Mint M COMMODVS ANTON AV[G PI]VS BRIT, laureate head r. / VOTA SVS[CEP DECEN P M TR P VIIII (or X?) IMP VII], [COS II]II PP in exergue, S-[C], Commodus standing l. at tripod. RIC III 441; BMCRE 552 note; Cohen RSC 988.  See notes. (21.03 grams / 29 mm) eBay Nov. 2018 $14.00 BIN  

 RIC 441c:  TRP VIIII 184 A.D.

RIC 454Aa:  TRP X 184-185 "

 Obverse die-match has unclear reverse, so I am not sure about VAuctions RIC 441 attribution. Die-Match Obverse:   VAuctions Auction 268; Lot 166; 18.08.2011

 Here is a VOT denarius from very late in his reign.  Promises, promises!

image.jpeg.3ee6b34a2d11f1830450cab40b2f207c.jpeg

Commodus  Denarius (191-192 A.D.) Rome Mint L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right / VOTA SOLV PRO SAL PR, Commodus standing left, sacrificing out of a patera over tripod altar, prostrate bull left RIC 262; RSC 984; Sear 5725.  (2.60 grams / 17 mm) A-Z Aug. 14, 2017 $18.00

 

 

 

Thanks! Nice coins. I guess the vows were fulfilled by the time that denarius was struck, but it wasn't to last much longer! 

2 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

That is a gorgeous coin! It has a very well-executed portrait and a lovely patina. Frankly, I'm surprised it didn't fetch more attention at the NFA auction back in 1980, but the medium bronze denominations are often ignored, with the well-heeled collectors preferring pretty (by which I mean smoothed and tooled) sestertii. What a surprise provenance that one has!! 

While I haven't found a forgotten Sear provenance, I have researched coins only to see the same specimen in RPC. This first happened with a coin from Bizya:

OtaciliaSeveraBizya.jpg.88c2996c6e94469c60963d849d834bec.jpg
Otacilia Severa, 244-249 CE.
Roman provincial Æ 23.5 mm, 6.89 gm, 7 h.
Thrace, Bizya, 244-249 CE.
Obv: M WTAKEIΛIA CEBHPA CEB, diademed and draped bust, right.
Rev: ΒΙΖVΗΝΩΝ, Artemis standing right, holding arrow and torch; stag at her feet.
Refs: Tachev, Bizija 5 (this coin); RPC VIII, (unassigned; ID 48718); Moushmov 3514; Sear GIC 3991; Varbanov 1592; Lindgren II 759; Jurukova 147; Mionnet Suppl 2, 193.
Notes: Double die-match to RPC specimen and to Lindgren II 759.

It turns out to be the same specimen illustrated in Tachev's Bizija, the plate of which was reproduced at RPC:

OtaciliaSeveraBizyaTachevBizija5(RPC).jpg.d4ff880fff97e548a9119d1ad966d335.jpg


This one turned out to be an exemplar at RPC, too. I was researching the coin after its arrival in the mail and saw it was the same specimen as one illustrated in RPC.

FaustinaJrTraianopolisHomonoia.jpg.12788f0829b54c2ef05b441d2ad94d6d.jpg
Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman provincial Æ double unit, 6.47 g, 20.5 mm, 6 h.
Thrace, Trajanopolis, 154-175 CE.
Obv: ΦΑVϹΤΕΙΝΑ ϹΕΒΑϹΤΗ, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ, Homonoia standing left, holding patera and cornucopiae.
Refs: RPC IV.1, 1931-4 (temporary; this coin); Corpus Nummorum 54271 and 3791; Moushmov 5000; Schönert-Geiß, MATT p. 163, nr. 16-17; von Aulock Phryg. II, 1484 (corr.).
Notes: Ex-Frank Sternberg Auction 25, lot 352, 25 November 1991.

The photo at RPC was cited from a Frank Sternberg auction from 1991.

FaustinaJrTraianopolisHomonoiaRPC.jpg.953dd9ffdaa7db86bb03863be274b361.jpg

Thanks Roman Collector! Yes I thought it interesting the hammer was half the estimate, but then again $100 in 1980 would be worth about $400 today. A decent amount of juice even for a nice portrait coin. Makes me wonder if the coin has any prior provenance history.

Great provincial coins, by the way - not just for the plate provenance but they're quite attractive by themselves!

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How cool!  I bought a Trebonianus Sestertius from the VOTA collection, for the patina.

That's very cool to have a Sear plate coin.  Maybe Jeff Clark was an important collector?  Yours also has a pretty nice patina.

You've been sticking to your goal of getting good quality coins.  I've been in the budget gold pool, which are low-grade by AV standards, but still enjoyable and an upgrade to little nummi.

I don't have many pictured coins of Commodus, and very few in general.  I don't really collect the Antonines that much.

The only pictured ones I have are a couple of low-grade ones with nice patinas.  Many times I'll buy a coin for the patina and the type which it's on is fairly irrelevant.   I didn't copy and paste the platform scene one.

Commodus-Sestertius-RIC441greenpatinaaVFGBCollection.jpg.7baaee7ca73f64766aa9eaba30fdfdd1.jpg

Commodus
� Sestertius
22.96 g / 32 mm

M COMM ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT
Laureate head right
R/ VOTA SVSCEP DECEN PM TRP VIIII IMP VII COS IIII PP  S-C
Commodus sacrifying over tripod left

C.988 (6 fr), RIC.441
scratch on reverse
green patina

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Posted · Supporter
12 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

How cool!  I bought a Trebonianus Sestertius from the VOTA collection, for the patina.

That's very cool to have a Sear plate coin.  Maybe Jeff Clark was an important collector?  Yours also has a pretty nice patina.

You've been sticking to your goal of getting good quality coins.  I've been in the budget gold pool, which are low-grade by AV standards, but still enjoyable and an upgrade to little nummi.

I don't have many pictured coins of Commodus, and very few in general.  I don't really collect the Antonines that much.

The only pictured ones I have are a couple of low-grade ones with nice patinas.  Many times I'll buy a coin for the patina and the type which it's on is fairly irrelevant.   I didn't copy and paste the platform scene one.

Commodus-Sestertius-RIC441greenpatinaaVFGBCollection.jpg.7baaee7ca73f64766aa9eaba30fdfdd1.jpg

Commodus
� Sestertius
22.96 g / 32 mm

M COMM ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT
Laureate head right
R/ VOTA SVSCEP DECEN PM TRP VIIII IMP VII COS IIII PP  S-C
Commodus sacrifying over tripod left

C.988 (6 fr), RIC.441
scratch on reverse
green patina

Nice coin, and a great patina! That's the same type as mine, just a different denomination and year (TR P VIIII instead of X.)

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A beautiful coin, @CPK. I have only one Commodus bronze:

Commodus (son of Marcus Aurelius), AE (Orichalcum) Sestertius, AD 186, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, M COMMODVS ANT P FELIX AVG BRIT / Rev. Concordia, draped, standing front, head to left, holding vertical standard with legionary eagle in each hand, P M TR P XI IMP VII CO[S V PP] (around), S - C across fields; in exergue, CONC MIL (for CONCORDIA MILITVM, “[dedicated to] harmony with the soldiers”; see Numiswiki at https://tinyurl.com/mr9ta53k). RIC III Commodus 465(A), BMCRE IV Commodus 576 (1st ed. 1940) (ill. Pl. 106, no. 8 [rev. only]), Sear RCV II 5738, cf. Cohen 55 corr. (COS V not IIII as Cohen states). 29 mm., 20.19 g., 12 h. [Deep cut or flaw on obv. across emperor’s neck.] Purchased from Leu Numismatik AG, Winterthur, Switzerland, Web Auction 26, 11 July 2023, Lot 4520 [purchase canceled & refund obtained 20 Sep 2023, repurchased 6 Oct 2023], from Collection of Jens Georg Feierabend, Hamburg, Germany; ex Roma E-Auction 58, 20 June 2019, Lot 1137, Roma E-Auction 52, 10 January 2019, Lot 853, and Roma E-Auction 46, 5 June 2018, Lot 663.* 

image.png.89c3fa8014dd2e2c63db44dd68926944.png

*Accompanied by David R. Sear A.C.C.S. [Ancient Coin Certification Service] Certificate of Authenticity dated April 2, 2020, issued to Jens Georg Feierabend, No. 981CR/RI/E/O, grading coin as “a strong VF with light brown patina, struck on a typical short flan and with deep cut across emperor’s neck,” and stating, among other things, “This orichalcum sestertius, worth one-quarter of the silver denarius, was struck in the early  months of AD 186 following the downfall of the praetorian prefect Perennis and the rise of his rival Cleander. There was some military unrest at this time and the ‘war of the deserters’ in Gaul and Spain had to be put down by the future emperor Pescennius Niger. The reverse of this issue appeals to ‘the harmony of the soldiers’ (concordia militum) at a time of uncertainty when the emperor was clearly at pains to court the support of the armed forces. It is tempting to see in the deep slash across Commodus’ neck an expression of hatred for the regime, possibly following the emperor’s murder.”

A copy of the Sear Certificate:

image.png.e5a1ab9f4bb1104042e7f62d19f3ab69.png

Bought at the same time at the same auction, consigned by the same previous owner (our fellow-member @Julius Germanicus ) :

Crispina (wife of Commodus), AE (Orichalcum) Sestertius, AD 178-182, Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust right, hair waved in curls across head and fastened in chignon behind, CRISPINA - AVGVSTA / Rev. Salus seated left on throne, resting left elbow on its arm, holding patera in right hand and feeding from it a snake rising before her from altar at her feet, SALVS around, S – C across lower fields. RIC III Commodus 672a, BMCRE IV Commodus 422 (1st ed. 1940), Sear RCV II 6010 (ill. p. 423), Cohen 33. 30 mm., 22.23 g., 12 h. Purchased from Leu Numismatik AG, Winterthur, Switzerland, Web Auction 26, 11 July 2023, Lot 4530 [purchase canceled & refund obtained 20 Sep 2023, repurchased 6 Oct 2023], from Collection of Jens Georg Feierabend, Hamburg, Germany; ex Ira & Larry Goldberg Auction 109, 29 Jan 2019, Lot 2194; ex Classical Numismatic Group, LLC (CNG) Auction 76, 12 Sep 2007, Lot 3330, from Collection of J. Alan Seeger; previously privately acquired from Tom Cederlind.*

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The CNG photo from 2007, which is a bit closer to the coin's true color:

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*Accompanied by David R. Sear A.C.C.S. [Ancient Coin Certification Service] Certificate of Authenticity dated 5 Jun 2019, issued to Jens Georg Feierabend, No. 907CR/RI/N/D, grading coin as “VF, with attractive portrait and nice glossy brown patina,” and stating, among other things, that “[t]his attractive orichalcum sestertius features a sensitive portrait of the teenage empress combined with a seated figure of Salus, goddess of health. Although a standard reverse type, the appearance of the goddess at this time may relate to an imperial pregnancy,” even though no surviving offspring are known to have resulted from Crispina’s marriage to Commodus. Sear also notes that the coinage of Crispina appears to have ceased four years after their AD 178 marriage, following the plot against Commodus in 182, despite the fact that it is unlikely that she was involved in the plot (by contrast to Lucilla). [Copy of Sear Certificate omitted..]

 

The happy couple together:

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The coin is excellent @CPK and your discoveries about it fascinating. And beautiful picture BTW !

I can't but post again my own Commodus sestertius (sorry folks for those who have already seen it so many times)

26fbfbe9b6804aad919bb4ddfbc6be63.jpg

Commodus, Sestertius -  Rome mint, 192 CE
L AEL AVREL CO---MM AVG P FEL, Laureate head of Commodus right
HERCVLI ROMANO AVG, Hercules facing, head left, holding club and lion's skin, resting on trophy. SC in field
21,01 gr
Ref : RCV #5752, Cohen #203, BMC # 314. RIC # 640.

This is the very first roman coin I have ever possessed, gift from my grand father who found it digging a trench at Verdun battle during WWI

The following comment is taken from the description of a similar example (in far much better condition) in NAC auction 54, # 477 :
Few Roman coins excite as much commentary as those of Commodus, which show him possessed of Hercules. Not only do they present an extraordinary image, but they offer incontrovertible support to the literary record. The reports of Commodus’ megalomania and infatuation with Hercules are so alarming and fanciful that if the numismatic record was not there to confirm, modern historians would almost certainly regard the literary record as an absurd version of affairs, much in the way reports of Tiberius’ depraved behaviour on Capri are considered to be callous exaggerations. Faced with such rich and diverse evidence, there can be no question that late in his life Commodus believed that Hercules was his divine patron. Indeed, he worshipped the demigod so intensely that he renamed the month of September after him, and he eventually came to believe himself to be an incarnation of the mythological hero. By tradition, Hercules had fashioned his knotted club from a wild olive tree that he tore from the soil of Mount Helicon and subsequently used to kill the lion of Cithaeron when he was only 18 years old. Probably the most familiar account of his bow and arrows was his shooting of the Stymphalian birds while fulfilling his sixth labour. The reverse inscription HERCVLI ROMANO AVG (‘to the August Roman Hercules’) makes the coin all the more interesting, especially when put into context with those of contemporary coins inscribed HERCVLI COMMODO AVG, which amounts to a dedication ‘to Hercules Commodus Augustus’.

Q

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Posted · Supporter
2 hours ago, Qcumbor said:

The coin is excellent @CPK and your discoveries about it fascinating. And beautiful picture BTW !

I can't but post again my own Commodus sestertius (sorry folks for those who have already seen it so many times)

26fbfbe9b6804aad919bb4ddfbc6be63.jpg

Commodus, Sestertius -  Rome mint, 192 CE
L AEL AVREL CO---MM AVG P FEL, Laureate head of Commodus right
HERCVLI ROMANO AVG, Hercules facing, head left, holding club and lion's skin, resting on trophy. SC in field
21,01 gr
Ref : RCV #5752, Cohen #203, BMC # 314. RIC # 640.

This is the very first roman coin I have ever possessed, gift from my grand father who found it digging a trench at Verdun battle during WWI

The following comment is taken from the description of a similar example (in far much better condition) in NAC auction 54, # 477 :
Few Roman coins excite as much commentary as those of Commodus, which show him possessed of Hercules. Not only do they present an extraordinary image, but they offer incontrovertible support to the literary record. The reports of Commodus’ megalomania and infatuation with Hercules are so alarming and fanciful that if the numismatic record was not there to confirm, modern historians would almost certainly regard the literary record as an absurd version of affairs, much in the way reports of Tiberius’ depraved behaviour on Capri are considered to be callous exaggerations. Faced with such rich and diverse evidence, there can be no question that late in his life Commodus believed that Hercules was his divine patron. Indeed, he worshipped the demigod so intensely that he renamed the month of September after him, and he eventually came to believe himself to be an incarnation of the mythological hero. By tradition, Hercules had fashioned his knotted club from a wild olive tree that he tore from the soil of Mount Helicon and subsequently used to kill the lion of Cithaeron when he was only 18 years old. Probably the most familiar account of his bow and arrows was his shooting of the Stymphalian birds while fulfilling his sixth labour. The reverse inscription HERCVLI ROMANO AVG (‘to the August Roman Hercules’) makes the coin all the more interesting, especially when put into context with those of contemporary coins inscribed HERCVLI COMMODO AVG, which amounts to a dedication ‘to Hercules Commodus Augustus’.

Q

Thanks Qcumbor!

And thanks for posting your coin - I for one will never get tired of seeing it and the story behind it! 👍

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