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Progressive Die Damage

Roman Collector

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I've been looking closely at other specimens of a denarius I recently added to my collection, the anepigraphic denarius issued for Faustina the Elder in 143 CE featuring Ceres on its reverse and with a veiled and stephaned obverse bust (Unlisted in RIC; BMCRE 328). It appears that a single obverse die may have been used to strike all specimens of this variety. Of the specimens I have been able to find online, they all exhibit damage to the obverse die. We can observe the progression of damage as we compare the specimens.

The specimen with the least die deterioration appears to be this one sold at Kolner Münzkabinett Tyll Kroha. The damage seems to be limited to a thin crack behind the portrait. The V in DIVA and the T in FAVSTINA have not yet begun to crack.


The British Museum specimen demonstrates a large but thin crack behind the portrait and a crack developing in the V in DIVA. There is also a crack extending to the beaded border in the T in FAVSTINA.


We see a similar pattern of damage in this specimen from the ANS collection but there is an additional crack extending from the G in AVG.


The crack behind the portrait has widened, the crack on the V in DIVA has extended, and a crack has formed between DIVA and AVG on the specimen in my collection, below. The crack in the G is, of course, still there.


Finally, on this specimen sold at Pecunem 10 and owned by @akeady demonstrates all of the cracks, but the crack on the V in DIVA has extended even further. Several cracks can be seen extending from the letters in FAVSTINA to the rim. 


The only other specimen I am aware of, formerly owned by @curtislclay and now in my collection, is too corroded to say much about, although it too has traces of the large crack behind the bust.


Let's see your coins struck with damaged dies!! 

Edited by Roman Collector
Adding additional information and a photo.
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Here is an Antoninus Pius with numerous die cracks forming on the reverse between legend and border. The most striking though starts at the last O of CONSECRATIO, up to the altar, then from the top of alter to the underside of the eagle, and continues from the top of the eagles shoulder to its beak.

 DIVVS ANTONINVS, bare head right / CONSECRATIO, eagle standing right on garlanded altar, head turned left. RSC 156. BMC 48. SEAR 5192.
RIC 431 (Aurelius). Rome mint, after AD 161. 3,0 g - 18,5 mm


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I have nothing intelligent to add vis-a-vis die characteristics, but I really like that anepigraphic reverse!  I was previously unfamiliar with the type.  (Apparently I don’t crawl out of my burrow often enough.)

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