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Faustina Friday – A Middle Bronze with a Left Facing-Bust Struck with a Single Obverse Die


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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina Fanatics! Today we're going to do a die-study of a scarce middle bronze. Three years ago, I purchased this coin from Heritage, who reported it as being part of the Morris collection.

885604674_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAs.jpg.92ca7e743ef5da2a19f8115252246770.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175/6.
Roman Æ as, 9.85 g, 26.0 mm, 6 h.
Rome, AD 148-151.
Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, Bust of Faustina II, draped, with band of pearls, left.
Rev: VENVS S C, Venus standing right, arranging drapery on right shoulder, and holding apple in her left hand.
Refs: RIC 1410b (bust l.); BMCRE 2165; Cohen --; Strack 1304; RCV --.
Note: Heritage Auctions, Inc.,
Auction 271933, lot 35249, 18 August 2019. Ex-Morris collection.


I have previously written about this coin. I did a limited die study after I purchased the coin and have examined the various obverse legends used with coins of this reverse type for the purposes of dating the coin. However, I would like to do a detailed die study of this particular issue to correct an error in Cohen, further narrow down its date, and discuss a possible purpose for the issue. This coin has much to teach us, indeed.

To begin the die study, I have compiled an inventory of known specimens. From various print and online databases, supplemented by information reported by @curtislclay in a 2010 discussion at Forvm,[1] I have compiled the following list.

1. My specimen (Heritage, ex-Morris collection).
2. British Museum no. 2165.
3. Numismatic Naumann, Auction 72, lot 368, 3 February 2019.
4. Specimen in Vienna (cited by Strack).
5. Specimen in Modena (cited by Strack).
6. Specimen formerly owned by Curtis Clay.
7. Lanz, Graz, IV, 1974, Römische Mittelbronzen, lot 370, pl. XVI.
8. Coin owned by Forvm member The Apostle.
9. Feuardent specimen (Rollin collection, Trau collection, cited by Cohen, Gnecchi, and Strack).
10. Noble Numismatics, Auction 121, lot 4496, 30 July 2019.

Of these ten known examples, I have been able to find photographs of six of them. All of them share the same obverse die. Per Curtis Clay, his former specimen and the Lanz specimen share the same obverse die as those illustrated below as well.[2] There appear to have been two reverse dies used.

Reverse 1


885604674_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAs.jpg.92ca7e743ef5da2a19f8115252246770.jpg

My specimen (Heritage, ex-Morris collection).


1548149740_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustasBMC.jpg.17d5f4823cfbf0065e046561fd5e8d5a.jpg

British Museum no. 2165.


614998429_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAsNaumann.jpg.22b72d8154e07eaaf60ffd22a47b843e.jpg

Numismatic Naumann, Auction 72, lot 368, 3 February 2019. This coin is in @shanxi's collection.


51871883_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAsTheApostle(Forvmboard).jpg.a61f4680b92f7933680ea12c3b968d8a.jpg

Coin owned by Forvm member The Apostle.


Curtis Clay also notes that the Lanz specimen shares this reverse die.[3]

Reverse 2


1984847626_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAsGnecchi-Rollin-Cohen.JPG.5cd840adb60a8018306f1d8fa07ca146.JPG

Feuardent specimen. Note the S C on the reverse has been tooled off to mimic a "medallion." The double die-match with the Noble Numismatics specimen, however, demonstrates it to have been tooled.


678833080_FaustinaJrVENVSSCleftbustAsNoble.jpg.264cecf35696fb38bc6876affd73da5d.jpg

Noble Numismatics, Auction 121, lot 4496, 30 July 2019.


Conclusions from the above die study

Because all the coins examined by either me or Curtis Clay share the same obverse die, and because there appear to have been only two reverse dies in use, the coins minted with this left-facing obverse die were issued over an extremely limited period, perhaps only two shifts at the mint. This comes into play when establishing a date for this reverse type as a whole, which I will discuss in more detail, below.

The double die-match of the Feuardent and the Noble Numismatics specimens, however, demonstrates the former to have been tooled. Therefore, Cohen was in error in when he considered the type without the S C to be a separate issue.

More About the Reverse Type

This reverse type was also used for the quinarius aureus denomination, which is extremely rare, with as few as perhaps three known specimens.


768777219_FaustinaJrVENVSquinariusaureusBMC.jpg.ada0b7f58744446732935180d07885f9.jpg

Quinarius aureus of this reverse type, RIC 514. British Museum specimen, BMCRE 1061.


The usual form of the issue with this reverse has a right-facing bust, which is also quite scarce.

155757794_FaustinaJrVENVSSCasTriton.jpg.58592d45d7ff9763f781cf9e85d72204.jpg

The variety with the right-facing bust, RIC 1410a. Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Triton X, lot 644, 9 January 2007.


This reverse type, which began on coinage bearing the empress's first obverse inscription, FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, continues after the introduction of the longer FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend. These coins are very rare and known from only a handful of examples.

467965035_FaustinaJrVENVSSCBertolamiANTONINIMB.jpg.0ad5ed69e54747a1d8c005db3012153b.jpg

The variety with the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL obverse legend., RIC 1410c. Bertolami Fine Arts, Auction 8, lot 610, 3 February 2014.


In the late 1980s, Curtis Clay worked out a chronology for the various obverse legends for Faustina the Younger under Antoninus Pius and concluded the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend was in use for about seven or eight months, from the end of summer AD 151 to about June AD 152.[4] Subsequent work by Beckmann was entirely consistent with Curtis's work, though Beckmann was not able to establish an absolute chronology for the various obverse inscriptions.[5]

The fact that the quinarius aureus and all three varieties of the middle bronze denomination are very scarce strongly suggests a limited period of production, likely in the summer of AD 151. This is an argument against Curtis Clay's hypothesis that it was a New Year's issue.[6] Moreover, the simultaneous production of an analogous quinarius aureus also argues against this issue being a "New Year’s as."

As always, comments are encouraged. Please feel free to post anything you feel is relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. The Apostle. "Left Facing Faustina II Bust." Forvm's Classical Numismatics Discussion Board,
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=66266.msg414822.

2. Ibid., reply no. 1.

3. Ibid., reply no. 1.

4. Curtis L. Clay, personal communication, 13 September 2021.

5. Beckmann, Martin, Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image, A.N.S. Numismatic Studies 43, American Numismatic Society, New York, 2021, p. 42.

6. Ibid., reply no. 1.

Edited by Roman Collector
To tag Curtis and Shanxi
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Great work on the corpus & die study! It has probably been suggested more than once, but I hope that some day you'll edit together a volume of your greatest hits ("Ten Years of Faustina Fridays" or some such).

My comment is on a tangent regarding the provenance (Morris Collection):

You may already know this, but the previous owner of the Morris collection was a college friend of @curtislclay. In fact, many of the details in my "provenance glossary" entry for Morris / Phil Peck below come from C.C.'s CoinTalk comments about him. It is now public knowledge that Morris Coll. = Phil Peck, so this isn't sensitive information.

Don't think I've shared this entry yet, so, for anyone interested:

 

Phil Peck (Philip C. Peck, New York, b. c. 1941/2). Graduated Princeton 1984 (where he was a friend of Curtis Clay). Brother of Morris Peck. The "Morris Collection" = that of Phil Peck, sold at Heritage beginning 2019. At least for ancients, all those I’ve seen were encapsulated for the Heritage sales by NGC c. 2019 and most (perhaps all?) note the provenance on the tag: “The Morris Collection” (example).

  • Most or all of the collection was sold in four main groups: Morris Collection, Part I = Heritage Auction 271920 (26 May 2019); Morris Collection, Part II = Heritage Auction 271933 (18 Aug 2019); Morris Collection, Part III = Heritage Auction 61151 (26 Jan 2020); Morris Collection, Part IV = Heritage Auction 61160 (10 May 2020).
  • Curator at the Chase Bank Money Museum from 1965 until until it closed permanently in 1977, its collection donated to the Smithsonian and ANS. Announced in Coin World (09/29/1965; pg. 86) [see also results here]: "Chase Money Museum Names Peck As Assistant Curator. Philip C Peck, a New York numismatist, has been appointed assistant curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank’s Money Museum at Rockefeller Center…" See also the announcement in the Princeton Alumni Weekly (v 66), 7 Dec 1965: p. 58.

Quoting CC again from CT [CT Post 4195978 (curtisclay, 1 Mar 2020)]:

Quote

Collecting Roman coins (and some others) was the central interest of Phil Peck's life. After a BA at Princeton in 1964, he became curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank's Money Museum in New York City for several years, then acquired a master's degree in library science and spent the rest of his working life as librarian for various institutions or firms in New York. I have known him since my freshman year at Princeton in 1962/3, when he met one of my roommates who told him that I too collected Roman coins! I have lost touch with him over the last twenty years or so, but understand that he had to be moved to an assisted living facility a couple of years ago and could no longer collect coins. His brother consigned the bulk of his large coin collection to Heritage, who sold it under the pseudonym "the Morris Collection".”

(Question: Are Phil Peck & Morris Peck related to the Jeff Peck from Pennsylvania, active in the numismatic literature world [Jeffrey M. Peck, possibly born in Pittsburgh 1950]?)

I have two in slabs noting "the Morris Collection," both are Provincials but he collected many other types:

image.jpeg.d82043c25cb71614358bf5fcc540cd58.jpeg

Antoninus Alexandria Drachm, Nemesis / Griffin. Previously: V. Ruzicka & K. Wetterstrom Colls.; after: A. Kowsky

image.jpeg.2af6b0d98c4af748555a9543b47a82e7.jpeg

Beautiful Severus Alexander portrait "seen from behind" from Acrasus, w/ Hygeia & Asklepios. Certainly one of the best of its type. Should probably be cracked out to photograph & submit to RPC. Haven't been able to find any prior provenance.

Edited by Curtis JJ
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