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An unsigned but interesting Antoninus Pius from Philippopolis in Thracia


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One of last month's additions that I just got around to properly attribute:

Antoninus Pius (138-161)
AE20mm 3.48g copper assarion, minted. c.151(?)
ΑΥΤ ΑΝΤΩΝΕΙ - ΝΟϹ ϹΕΒ ΕΥϹΕΒ; laureate bearded head r.
ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟ - ΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ; nude Dionysos standing, left, holding kantharos over panther and long filleted thyrsos

First things first, it's unlisted in RPC. Although a small denomination (assarion) and not holding the magistrate name, the distinctive obverse legend naming Pius as CEB(actoc) EYCEB(oc) is only recorded for the issues at this time struck under Gaius Gallonius Fronto as legatus Augusti pro praetore in Thracia and in this case hegemon of Philippopolis, c. 149/50-152. 

The obverse legend is only used in this issue, in conjunction with signed reverses by Fronto, possibly in connection to a historical event. Curtis Clay proposed in 2013 that the occasion might have been the birth of Lucilla in March 151 or the dedication of the Temple of Hadrian in later 151 to early 152.

Small denominations with this obverse legend and this reverse iconography are not recorded in RPC at all (and the coinage for G. Gallonius Fronto is rather rare in general, possibly struck only on this particular occasion) but similar are known from other issues, under Marcus Pontius Sabinus (146-9) and Lucius Pompeius Vopiscus (155-8). In fact Dionysus as a general reverse is very popular at Philippopolis, which is probably why this coin did not get much interest by other bidders. 

Pretty happy with the quality of the engraving on the Imperial effigy. The patina is also very pleasing, thick, glossy and in multiple nuances of green.

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