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Tacitus upgrade ... and another duplicate for the cabinet


GregH
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As a one-per-ruler collector, I am approaching my limit of being able to add new rulers.

So my focus recently has been getting better coins.

My most recent upgrade is Tacitus. He's a very ephemeral emperor, with a very brief tenure as emperor around 275/276AD, and possibly one of the few lucky emperors who wasn't murdered (he possibly died of old age!)

His coins are pretty common for a short reign - mostly because troops needed to be paid to fight off the invaders, and the mints were cranking out these coins by the tens of thousands.

Out with the old:

No photo description available.

In with the new:

Ancient Coins - Tacitus. Antoninianus. Lugdunum Mint. Felicitas.

Denomination: Silvered Antoninianus (23mm)
Mint: Lugdunum
Obverse: Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
Reverse: Felicitas standing left, holding caduceus and cornucopia.Reference: RIC 65

 

This is quite a substantial improvement with a fairly artistic portrait IMO.

My old coin will go on sale in the cabinet at a very reasonable price.

 

 

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Quite

1 minute ago, Ocatarinetabellatchitchix said:

Here’s my old Tacitus, like yours from Lugdunum, and also a Florianus from the same engraver maybe ?

2F2CCD17-81B3-4EE1-A79B-D83144F43D3F.jpeg.e3ce717d32eab9e396106dae6699a0d0.jpeg

Awesome Florian! He's also on my upgrade list.

Quite plausibly the same engraver, as the style is similarly very nice on your Florian - and these coins were minted at the same time.

 

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Very nice!

Tacitus is one of those emperors who isn't tough to find, but it is tough to find a nice one.

My current "main" Tacitus:

552374013_TacitusMARSVICTOR.jpg.33bbc385fc1277e88b7a6db241d4d76e.jpg

Also came across these two and decided not to sell them for peanuts

1798239106_Tacitussilveredantoninianusprovidentia.jpg.45c7ee6463e8c1bacfa1238af99f3c3e.jpg1368789712_Tacitusfidesmilitvm.jpg.9b477360b48e1f6b586b2dc0da934c51.jpg

Sadly, I haven't found one that really "captures" Tacitus - he was a seasoned politician who was well into his 70s, but all I'm seeing is a neckbeard in his 30s...

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Wow, that certainly is an upgrade! Congrats.

I may have a couple RIC Taciti (not that nice) but if I could keep just one it would be my Alexandrian Tetradrachm, ex collection of Elvira Clain-Stefanelli (1914-2001, curator of National Numismatic Collection at Smithsonian, author of [1985] Numismatic Bibliography, and generally a favorite numismatist of mine)

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Edited by Curtis JJ
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I would have kept both since they're from opposite sides of the Empire, but there's no question that the western portrait is better!  (I'm a portrait guy too.)

No Tacitus thread should go by without including one of the rare double antoninianii!  Eastern only. 🙂 This one's Antioch:

image.jpeg.94dea79f8ae007ae98330127b1c0f5ed.jpeg

Warren Esty has done a metal analysis on these and found that they have double the silver.  That's his explanation for the "XI" in the exergue rather than the usual XXI (ten parts of base metal to one part silver rather than the usual 20 parts to 1).  By contrast Kenneth Harl thinks these coins were an inflation-busting attempt by Tacitus and the XI actually means 10 sestertii (=2.5 denarii) to one higher-silver-content aurelianus/antoninianus, in effect quartering the face value of the coinage and moving back towards a silver standard of yore.  The usual XXI (which was quickly restored) would then mean 20 sestertii (=5 denarii) to one aurelianus/antoninianus.  When I asked Harl about Esty's contention, his reply (as I recall) was that the silver ratio meaning didn't cohere well with the similar XXI mark on Diocletian's reformed nummus/follis, which he also understands as XXI meaning 20 sestertii to one nummus.  I'm not sure what @Valentinian's counter to that is.  Personally I think Warren's idea makes more sense, but that's without studying the question very much.  Maybe the meaning for the Diocletian reform is very compelling, although I note its silver content is indeed 5%, i.e. 20:1!

Edited by Severus Alexander
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If coins marked "XI" have twice the silver of coins marked "XXI", we cannot infer that "XX" refers to twenty of some smaller unit. Rather, twenty make some larger unit. The "XI" coins are rare and were issued for only a very short time. Apparently, Tacitus thought he could improve the intrinsic value of the coins by a factor of two without making much of a difference in their appearance. Wrong!  They were too valuable to continue to be minted. The reform failed. Metallurgical analyses show the early "XXI" coins of Aurelian's reform in 274 closely fit the "20 parts copper and one part silver" alloy and the "XI" coins closely fit the "10 parts copper and one part silver" alloy. When, c. 299-300, a couple of mints (Siscia, Alexandria) put "XXI" on some folles (and omitted it on many, and other mints didn't mention "XXI"), metallurgical analyses show that they, too, are not too far off the "20 and 1" alloy if you include the original surface-silvering. 

Here is a very rare Greek version with "IA" instead of "XI".  (They used "KA" for "XXI"). 

image.jpeg.a97db0b248aa600f995c9123e94925fa.jpeg

Tacitus. 275-276.
23 mm. 4.12 grams.
RIC 214, plate 10.154. RIC p. 320 "extremely rare". Tripolis mint.
 

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Fantastic, @Valentinian.  (Edit:) Even for a common example, that is would be very impressive.

...Can anyone here  expand on the dim, effectively anecdotal memory I have that the emperor Tacitus was descended from the c. 1st c. CE historian of the same name?

Edited by JeandAcre
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Aurelianus of Tacitus Serdica Mint 275-278 AD Obv Bust right radiated draped and cuirassed with 'INVICTVS' obverse legend. Rv  Sol facing Fides RIC 195 3.73 grms 23 mm Photo by W. Hansen tac12.jpg.a2030b084831d0a30352333222f39c2a.jpgLIke Aurelian Tacitus adopted to obverse legend. In this case the success was anticipatory. There are a few unusual features that sets this image from those of his immediate predecessors. One Tacitus is wearing a muscle cuirass rather than the mail or scale armor favored by his predecessors.  The other is his beard Rather than the military style stubble he has a longer beard covering his cheek and neck but has his chin clean shaven, It is clear that he is trying to distinguish himself  from his immediate predecessors. 

 On another note R.A.G. Carson In his book "Coinage of the Roman Empire" Makes a note of a very rare double antoninianus minted by Carus in283-3 AD No 504 on plate 34This coin is noteworthy as the emperor is wearing two radiate crowns, and the instead of XI or XXI it reads X et I.  

Edited by kapphnwn
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, JeandAcre said:

Fantastic, @Valentinian.  (Edit:) Even for a common example, that is would be very impressive.

...Can anyone here  expand on the dim, effectively anecdotal memory I have that the emperor Tacitus was descended from the c. 1st c. CE historian of the same name?

According to tradition, he claimed such descent, and was an elderly Senator in his 70s at the time he ascended the throne in AD 275. No contemporaneous records exist to confirm his purported claim, or even the tradition that he ever made such a claim. See Sear RCV III at p. 445, casting doubt on all aspects of the tradition -- regarding both his age (given the vigor he demonstrated in confronting the Gothic invaders of Asia Minor), and his descent from the historian Cornelius Tacitus. Sear suggests that rather than being an elderly Senator, he may well have been a Balkan native with an extensive military career, and that "the connection with the historian of an earlier age may be nothing more than a fiction on the part of a much later writer intrigued by the emperor's name."

Here's my only Tacitus, which appears to be the same type as @GregH's new coin, except that the reverse has a star in the right field instead of a second A. (What that difference means, I have no idea. The description for Sear RCV III 11817 at p. 454 lists only officina marks A or Δ [delta] in the reverse left field, for officinae 1 and 4, both with a star in the right field; no mention is made of a variety with a second "A." Perhaps RIC mentions such a variety?)

Tacitus, silvered billon Antoninianus, Lugdunum [Lyons] Mint, First Officina, 275-276 AD. Obv. Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, IMP C L TACITVS AVG / Rev. Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus upright in left hand and cornucopiae in right hand, TEMPORVM FELICITAS, A [First Officina] in left field, star [*] in right field. RIC V-1 65, Sear RCV III 11817 (ill. p. 454), Cohen 144. 23 mm., 3.4 g.

image.jpeg.871649addd1955fd717e7fe768868765.jpeg

His neckbeard is quite luxurious at the bottom!

Edited by DonnaML
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Nice upgrade:

 

Here are two of mine:

 

Tacitus_R110_fac.jpg.c8672f66275ddcc1a3044cdd871b4587.jpg

Tacitus (Reg. 275-276 AD)
Antoninian
Obv: IMP C CL TACITVS AVG, Bust of Tacitus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right
Rev: AEQVITAS AVG / Aequitas, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand
Silvered, 20x22mm, 3.40g
RIC Va, p.328, 14

 

Tacitus_01.jpg.0e349c40603b7845c96e22ef2c476001.jpg

 

Tacitus
Egypt, Alexandria
Billon Tetradrachm
Obv.: A K KΛ TAKITOC CEB, laureate bust right
Rev.: Elpis standling left with flower, ETOVC A = year 1 (275/276)
[weak, big A on the right side]
Billon, 7.58g, 18.8mm
Ref.: Dattari 5516, Geissen 3118

Edited by shanxi
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5 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

...Can anyone here  expand on the dim, effectively anecdotal memory I have that the emperor Tacitus was descended from the c. 1st c. CE historian of the same name?

I read a book recently -- Max Everwien's "Gods of soldiers" (I am not sure this is the English title). The book is about the life of Diocletian, from a simple soldier to emperor but many other emperors are characters in the book, including Tacitus. It is mentioned a few times in the book that Tacitus was proud of his famous ancestor.

But that was literary fiction and I don't know if Tacitus ever claimed this.

 

Here is my only Tacitus coin - a very cheap example but I am happy with it, especially since the details are good and the legends are clear.

image.png.3ce37642711c16cd59568d6a6dc157cd.png

Tacitus AD 275-276. Ticinum
Antoninianus Æ silvered
24 mm, 2,86 g
IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG, bust of Tacitus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right or bust of Tacitus, radiate, cuirassed, right / MARTI PACIF, Mars, walking left, holding olive-branch in right hand and spear and shield in left hand
RIC V Tacitus 145

 

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My only Tacitus is worse than your old coin 🤣

Tacitus Antoninianus, 275-276image.png.3a0734cfd81b1b0ccf02a85dc944c11a.pngTicinum. Billon, 22mm, 2.78g. Bust of Tacitus, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right; IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG. Providentia, draped, standing left, holding globe in right hand and sceptre in left hand; PROVIDE AVG; mintmark Q (RIC V, 152). Found in Lincolnshire.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, GregH said:

As a one-per-ruler collector

Great to see you posting in the new forum, Greg!

As of this year, I too, have been following your one-per-ruler strategy. I’ve been purchasing denarii of the Roman Empire exclusively.

— aka Deacon Ray

 

Edited by LONGINUS
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31 minutes ago, LONGINUS said:

Great to see you posting in the new forum, Greg!

As of this year, I too, have been following your one-per-ruler strategy. I’ve been purchasing denarii of the Roman Empire exclusively.

— aka Deacon Ray

 

Lovely to meet again in the new place! 😊. Yes, one per ruler is a fine strategy and a popular one. And when you run out of new rulers to collect, it’s a lot of fun to try to improve on what you have.

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16 hours ago, DonnaML said:

According to tradition, he claimed such descent, and was an elderly Senator in his 70s at the time he ascended the throne in AD 275. No contemporaneous records exist to confirm his purported claim, or even the tradition that he ever made such a claim. See Sear RCV III at p. 445, casting doubt on all aspects of the tradition -- regarding both his age (given the vigor he demonstrated in confronting the Gothic invaders of Asia Minor), and his descent from the historian Cornelius Tacitus. Sear suggests that rather than being an elderly Senator, he may well have been a Balkan native with an extensive military career, and that "the connection with the historian of an earlier age may be nothing more than a fiction on the part of a much later writer intrigued by the emperor's name."

Here's my only Tacitus, which appears to be the same type as @GregH's new coin, except that the reverse has a star in the right field instead of a second A. (What that difference means, I have no idea. The description for Sear RCV III 11817 at p. 454 lists only officina marks A or Δ [delta] in the reverse left field, for officinae 1 and 4, both with a star in the right field; no mention is made of a variety with a second "A." Perhaps RIC mentions such a variety?)

Tacitus, silvered billon Antoninianus, Lugdunum [Lyons] Mint, First Officina, 275-276 AD. Obv. Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, IMP C L TACITVS AVG / Rev. Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus upright in left hand and cornucopiae in right hand, TEMPORVM FELICITAS, A [First Officina] in left field, star [*] in right field. RIC V-1 65, Sear RCV III 11817 (ill. p. 454), Cohen 144. 23 mm., 3.4 g.

image.jpeg.871649addd1955fd717e7fe768868765.jpeg

His neckbeard is quite luxurious at the bottom!

Many thanks, @DonnaML, for the clarification about the ostensible descent!  I like your example especially for the almost anachronistic level of relief.  It's reminding me of Decius and thereabouts.

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Bronze coin (AE Antoninianus) minted at Ticinum during the reign of TACITUS between 275 - 276 A.D. Obv. IMP.C.M.CL.TACITVS.P.AVG.: Rad., dr. & cuir. bust r. Rev. CONCORDIA.MILITVM.: Emperor and Concordia stg. facing each other, clasping r. hands. RICV #. 131.

image.png.220e07a2fb3c4f358012967ccdf8f4e5.pngimage.png.ae0a120c516e00de6b1d3d5542ca58c4.png

Bronze Coin (AE Antoninianus) minted at Serdica during the reign of FLORIAN in 276 A.D. Obv. IMP.C.M.ANN.FLORIANVS.AVG.: Rad., dr. & cuir. bust r. Rev. PROVIDEN.DEOR.: Providentia stg. r. holding two ensigns, facing Sol stg. l., r hand raised, l. holding globe, in ex. HKA, in field *. RICV #111. DVM #13.

image.png.a2eb240abbd9fb819fb423e0163be976.pngimage.png.c98686517048cbbca20fc0ae503e847b.png

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It's crusty, but with the BEST neck beard!

[IMG]
Tacitus, AD 275-276.
Roman billon antoninianus, 3.57 g, 22.1 mm, 12 h.
Ticinum, AD 275-276, issue 2.
Obv: IMP C CL TACITVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: ANNONA AVGVSTI, Annona standing left, holding ears of corn over modius and cornucopiae; T (third officina) in exergue.
Refs: MER/RIC temp #3647; RIC 123; Cohen --; Estiot 2149.56; RCV 11767; La Venera hoard 1673.

 

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