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An Unassuming Rarity

David Atherton

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At first glance this appears to be an average Domitian dupondius ... needless to say it is not.





Æ Dupondius, 10.44g
Rome mint, 86 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XII CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, radiate, bearded, r.
Rev: S C in field; Mars adv. l., with Victory and trophy
RIC 482A (R3). BMC -. BNC -.
Acquired from Den of Antiquity, August 2022.

The Mars advancing right type was struck for Domitian's middle bronzes for a short period between 85-87 AD. No doubt it was part of the massive Germania Capta series struck on the coinage in the wake of the Chattan war. Notably it copies a reverse design previously struck for Vespasian's sestertii. This specimen is an extremely rare variant featuring an obverse portrait lacking aegis. The overwhelming majority of aes portraits from the issue were struck with aegis. The mint engraver's would gradually move away from aegis portraits over the next couple of years, but in 86 they were dominate and any deviation can be chalked up to engraver's whim. Second known specimen.
Listed as unique in the RIC II.1 Addenda.


Please post your 'unassuming rarities'.

Thanks for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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I have an example, although not that spectacular probably, from my first auction where I have bought individual coins


This seems like a common quadrans with the shewolf, but this is RIC 693 with the obverse legend IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P. This would be the 4th known example in theory, the other 3 being double die matches.

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Got this from a Frank S. Robinson auction for 38 USD, an acceptable price for the common type, but a total bargain for the R3 variation with Venus standing right.


Faustina II
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
Rev.: VENVS, Venus standing right, holding apple and sceptre.
Ag, 18mm, 3.38g
Ref.: RIC III 729, CRE 232 [R3]
Ex Frank S. Robinson, auction 117


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This one is quite common with the FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL obverse legend, but very scarce with the longer FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend, which was used for about six months from late AD 151 to early 152.

Faustina Jr CONCORDIA seated denarius ANTONINI inscription.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman AR denarius, 3.02 g, 18.1 mm, 6 h.
Rome, late 151-early 152.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL, bare-headed and draped bust right.
Rev: CONCORDIA, Concordia seated left, holding flower and resting elbow on cornucopiae set on globe under chair.
Refs: RIC 502a(6); BMCRE 1080-81; Cohen 53; RCV –; Strack 502; CRE 169.
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A complete accident...


Antoninus Pius AD 138-161. Æ As (27.1mm, 8.14 g.)..Rome mint, struck AD 139.
Obv. Laureate head right.
Rev. Fortuna standing left, holding rudder and cornucopia.
RIC II 533c (scarce)
Nice VF, good portrait.
Green patina.
Scarce 139 AD emission, without globe and COS II rather than COS III.

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Recently I developed a passion for Geta coins. Having just one provincial coin was not enough so I bought a few of them in auctions.


This doesn't look special but after discussing with a few specialists it appears this is an unpublished coin from Hadrianopolis. No matches found.

Of course for provincial coins this is not uncommon - finding an unpublished example or a very rare one is not something extremely out of the ordinary.


For Imperial the story is different.


Volusian AD 251-253. Antioch
Antoninianus AR
22 mm, 2,97 g
IMP CV AF GAL VEND VOLVSIANO AVG Bust radiate, draped, cuirassed r., Rv. ROMAE AETERNAE AVG, Roma seated left with Victory and spear, shield at side. In exergue, 3 pellets
Cf RIC 234a (R)


I bought this towards the end of the auction. Usually I watch carefully Greek, Provincials and early RIC section, my interest decreases starting with mid-late 3rd century and when I buy coins from this period, it's usually "oh, cheap, let's get it".

I wasn't expecting this to be rare at all. Apparently, it's an unpublished version of an already rare variety.

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Good eye to spot the missing Aegis.  Here's mine from the previous year with Aegis.  What makes it an "unassuming" rarity is the provenance.

Laureate head right with Aegis

Mars advancing left with Victory and trophy

Rome, 85 CE


RIC 387 (C)

Holed in antiquity and plugged in the late 19th century?

Ex-Manfred Olding 2019 n 184; Ex-Sammlung Heynen 1976;Ex-Paul Schürer (1890-1976); Ex-Fritz Reusing (1874-1956)

Comes with old tag probably from Heynen or Schürer. Olding tag incorrectly attributed to RIC 420 (different ending to legend)

Reusing was a German portrait painter of the early 20th Century whose portraits included Richard Strauss, Igor Strawinsky, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein. After Reusing's death, his nephew Paul Schürer inherited and curated the collection. Heynen was a friend of Reusing's, and at an earlier date had evidently sold or exchanged or given a substantial number of coins to Reusing, this being one of those coins!



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