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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: A pair of rare "Victorious Emperor" types on denarii of Sept. Sev. and Caracalla 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: A pair of rare "Victorious Emperor" types on denarii of Sept. Sev. and Caracalla  (Read 2021 times)
curtislclay
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« on: October 19, 2008, 04:12:36 pm »

1.  ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, bust laureate, draped r.

VICTORIAE around, AV / GG on shield at center of type, which is being held by two flying Victories above two seated captives wearing Phrygian caps.  Above the shield, figure of Septimius Severus, laureate and bearded, in military dress, seen from the knees up, standing l., holding globe and spear.

For many years, this denarius was known in only two specimens, one in Vienna, cited by Cohen 619 (80 francs), and the second in the Trau sale of 1935, lot 2248.

A couple of new specimens have turned up in auctions over the past ten years or so, the latest in Gorny & Mosch 169, 13 Oct. 2008, 340, which I illustrate below.  This EF specimen was estimated at 1000 euros, and actually brought 7475 euros (including the 15% buyer's fee), about $10,000!

That is well beyond my budget, so I was pleased to get the corroded space-filler shown below for about one percent of that price!

All known specimens come from the same pair of dies.

When was this type struck?  The draped bust means: between 201, when the obv. legend ANTONINVS PIVS AVG was introduced, and sometime in the course of 206, when Caracalla's draped bust was replaced by a head-only bust type.

According to Mattingly in BMC, p. cxlvi, the type cannot be exactly dated.  According to Hill 676, it was struck in 204, along with the IMPP INVICTI PII AVGG aurei of Septimius and Caracalla with rev. commemorating their VICTORIA PARTHICA MAXIMA.

The correct date is during the first half of 206, before the change of bust type, since the same obv. die was also used to strike a unique dated denarius in Paris, with rev.

PONTIF TR P VIIII COS II, Liber/Bacchus standing l. holding cup and thyrsus, in car drawn frontally and to the left by a team of four leopards.

The scan below by Susan Headley shows my plaster casts of this Paris denarius and of the Vienna specimen of the VICTORIAE AVGG coin.

All published descriptions of this VICTORIAE AVGG type call the emperor in the type "Caracalla", since it is, after all, Caracalla who appears on the obverse.  This identification overlooks the fact that the figure on the rev. clearly wears a long beard, so is without doubt not Caracalla but Septimius Severus!
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 05:50:24 pm »

2. SEVERVS PIVS AVG, head laureate r.

VICTORIAE AVGG, Septimius, togate, bearded, seated front on curule chair, holding Victory in r. hand, crowned by small Victory flying in from the right; below on right, a naked captive presenting a shield to the emperor, or possibly Aion holding up the zodiac band.

Cohen 717 (Vienna, 100 francs); BMC 371-2, pl. 36.18, the illustrated specimen coming from the Trau Sale, lot 2064.  A number of other specimens are also known, for example the one shown below from CoinArchives; all specimens come from a single rev. die, but from a number of different obv. dies.

Date of issue?  Well, the obverse legend and type of Septimius lasted from 201 to 210. 

Mattingly, BMC p. cxlviii, assigned the type to 208, seeing a possible connection between fighting near the Atlas Mountains in Africa and Atlas holding up the zodiac in the typeHill 1008 chose 209 and associated the type with imperial victories in Britain in that year.

Correct date: again apparently 206, since a shared obverse die, illustrated below in Susan Headley's scan of my plaster casts, links this VICTORIAE AVGG type to the famous LAETITIA TEMPORVM type, spina of the Circus Maximus fitted out as ship, chariot race above, seven animals below.  This type commemorates the chariot races and animal hunts performed after the Saecular Games of 204, but it was struck two years later, in 206, mainly in the second half of the year, since Caracalla's coins of the type pass from his draped bust (on aurei) to his laureate head (denarii), a change that occurred, as mentioned above, in the course of 206.

It seems to me very likely that these two rare Victorious-Emperor rev. types, one for Septimius, one for Caracalla, both sharing the rev. legend VICTORIAE AVGG, each struck from only a single rev. die, both datable to 206 AD, were in fact struck together, as pendants to each other, in one and the same issue!

I think we do not know enough about the history of 206 to decide whether these two types commemorate some recent imperial victory, possibly in Africa or the East, or merely rehash the old Parthian victory of 198.  The captives in Caracalla's type do wear Phrygian caps, suitable for Parthian enemies.

I will also leave open the question of interpretation of Septimius' type: captive holding shield, or Aion holding zodiac?

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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2008, 06:00:23 am »

Very interesting post, Curtis! Thank you to share your knowledge with us, especially with these two extraordinary types.
Do you plan to write a book or an article to give corrections to Hill's issues dates?
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Rupert
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2008, 03:13:16 pm »

You know that we're eagerly waiting for your revised edition of RIC IV, or at least IV/1!

Thanks a lot,

Rupert
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 03:17:32 am »

Very interesting indeed! And good to know it was you who outbid me on the "corroded space-filler"! I also bid on the Gorny & Mosch specimen, but the final price was about three times my maximum bid!!

Regards,
Ignasi
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