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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Quality ▸ Masterpiece PortraitsView Options:  |  |  |   

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits

A superb portrait appears that it could come to life. Most coin portraits actually lack this trait. A masterpiece portrait not only appears that it could come to life, but also makes an impression of what the subject was like, what they were thinking or how they felt. In addition to portraits of the finest style, on this page we include rarer bust types and portraits that we find attractive or sometimes just interesting.


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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"The Julian Star" appeared in the sky during the funeral games for Julius Caesar in July 44 B.C. It was a comet and the Romans believed it was a divine manifestation of the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
SH84740. Silver denarius, RIC I 37a (S), BMCRE I 323, RSC I 98, BnF I 1293, Hunter I 139, SRCV I 1607 var. (head left), Choice near Mint State, mint luster, well centered, excellent portrait, slightest die wear, some legend a little weak, weight 3.723 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, probably Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza, Spain) mint, 19 - 18 B.C.; obverse CAESAR AVGVSTVS, head of Augustus left, wearing oak wreath (corona civitas); reverse comet of eight rays, a central dot and flaming tail upwards, DIVVS - IVLIVS horizontal divided flanking across the field at center; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; scarce; $3000.00 (2670.00)


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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Nero considered himself an artist, perhaps he was and took an interest in his coinage - the sestertii of Nero are considered by many to be the finest numismatic art of the Roman Empire.
RB84073. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 443 (S), Mac Dowall WCN 428, Giard Lyon 119, BnF II 83, Cohen I 262, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SGCV I -, VF, fine style, excellent portrait, attractive brown toning, obverse slightly off center, some light corrosion, weight 25.990 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of neck; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass and shields, wearing helmet and military garb, Victory in offering wreath in her right hand, her left hand resting on parazonium at side, right foot drawn back and resting on helmet, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field at center, ROMA in exergue; $1450.00 (1290.50)


Macrinus, 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D.

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Securitas stands perfectly at her ease, with legs crossed and leaning on a column, clearly relaxed, having nothing to fear. Macrinus was praised for restoring security by eliminating the fratricidal son of Severus, long feared as the most cruel tyrant of Rome, beloved only by a venal soldiery, whom his largesses had enriched.
SH77277. Silver denarius, RIC IV 92b, BMCRE V 80, RSC III 122c corr. (Antioch), Hunter III 32 var. (draped, no cuirass), SRCV II 7365, Choice EF, nearly as struck, light tone on luster, superb portrait, well centered, small edge cracks, weight 3.140 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, obverse IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse SECVRITAS TEMPORVM (time of security), Securitas standing facing, head left, scepter in right hand, left leg crossed in front of right, leaning with left forearm on column; $500.00 (445.00)


Side, Pamphylia, c. 220 - 190 B.C., Seleukid Royal Countermark

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Side tetradrachms often bear Seleukid anchor countermarks. Often the coins had very little wear (and thus circulation) before countermarking. Houghton and Lorber do not attribute the countermark to a specific ruler, but it seems likely the countermarks are related to Antiochos III's offensive into Asia Minor, Thrace and Greece and the subsequent war with Rome in 190 B.C.
SH30035. Silver tetradrachm, SNGvA 4792; BMC Lycia p. 149, 50; SNG BnF -; SNG Cop -; countermark: Houghton-Lorber II 63, VF, attractive style, marks and scratches, small spots of light corrosion, some flattening on the upper reverse from countermarking, weight 16.499 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Side mint, c. 220 - 190 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right in a crested Corinthian helmet, countermarked with anchor in oval incuse; reverse Nike advancing left, wreath extended in right, pomegranate in left field, CT (magistrate's initials) below; $480.00 (427.20)


Constantine II, 22 May 337 - March or April 340 A.D.

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This type is apparently unpublished and this is the only example of the type known to Forum. This reverse was used for very rare (both R5) issues of Licinius I and Licinius II Caesar. CNG e-auction 368, lot 496, is Constantine II with this same reverse, also 5th officina, but with Constantine II on the obverse left holding a Victory on globe and mappa.
RL76392. Billon centenionalis, apparently unpublished, cf. RIC VII Siscia 116 - 117 (for obv. type) and 138 - 139 (for rev. type, issues of the Licinii), EF, excellent portrait, both sides slightly off-center, left side of reverse legend weak, some porosity, a few light marks, weight 2.773 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, 5th officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, as caesar, 320 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C, laureate and cuirassed bust left; reverse VIRTVS EXERCIT (courage of the army), vexillum inscribed VOT / XX in two lines, two seated barbarian captives back-to-back flanking base, Christogram (Chi Rho monogram) left, ESIS star in exergue; ex Scott Collection; extremely rare; $270.00 (240.30)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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Annona was the goddess of harvest and her main attribute is grain. When Severus Alexander was away on his Persian and German campaigns (231-235) he continuously struck Annona types. With the legend PROVIDENTIA AVG, "The Foresight of the Emperor," he assured that, though he was away, he would be carefully monitoring Rome's grain supply!
RS79822. Silver denarius, RIC IV 250b; RSC III 501b; BMCRE VI p. 201, 875; Hunter III 74; SRCV II 7922, Superb EF, excellent centering and strike, excellent portrait, nice detailed reverse, weight 3.371 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 - 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse PROVIDENTIA AVG (the foresight of the Emperor), Providentia (or Annona) standing left, grain in right hand over modius overflowing with grain at feet on left, cornucopia in left hand; $270.00 (240.30)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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In 278, Probus defeated the Alamanni, expelled the Franks from Gaul, reorganized the defenses on the Rhine, resettled the Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the Roman Empire, and adopted the titles of Gothicus Maximus and Germanicus Maximus.
RA76279. Silvered antoninianus, Pink VI-1, p. 63; RIC, part 2, V 376 (S) var. (cuirass); Cohen VI 283 var. (same); Hunter IV 131 var. (same, and obv legend); SRCV III 11984 (same), Choice aEF, some mint luster, most silvering remains, fantastic heroic bust, light corrosion, weight 3.341 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, 5th officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 4 emission, 278 A.D.; obverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), radiate bust left from behind, spear left in right hand, back bare but for balteus over right shoulder and rectangular Aegis shield with square corner in on left shoulder; reverse HERCVLI PACIF (to Hercules the pacifier), Hercules standing left, raising branch in extended right, club and Nemean Lion skin in left, VXXT in exergue; very rare; $260.00 (231.40)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Venus in her aspect as the divine ancestress of the Roman people was known as Venus Genetrix. According to legend, and as recorded in Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneis was the son of Venus who fled Troy after its destruction and founded the city of Rome. Julius Caesar, being of the Gens Julia, claimed direct descent from Venus Genetrix and Aeneas. Julius Caesar built a Temple of Venus Genetrix in his new forum. Most depictions of Venus Genetrix on Roman coinage are of the statue in the Forum, and do not directly refer to pregnancy or fertility.
RS79617. Silver denarius, RIC IV C388c, RSC III 212, Hunter III 13, BMCRE V C25, SRCV II 7106, Choice EF, fantastic portrait, mint luster, tiny green spots of encrustation, weight 3.246 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, reign of Caracalla, 216 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right; reverse VENVS GENETRIX (Mother Venus), Venus enthroned left, extending right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; $225.00 (200.25)


Plautilla, Augusta 202 - 22 January 205 A.D., Wife of Caracalla

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Concordia, the goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony, did not favor Plautilla and Caracalla. Plautilla and Caracalla hated each other, lived separately, and the marriage was likely never consummated. After the fall and execution of her father, Caracalla's Praetorian Prefect, she was exiled to the Lipari islands and executed in 212 A.D.
RS79620. Silver denarius, RIC IV 363, RSC III 1, BMCRE V 411, SRCV II 7065, Hunter III -, EF, attractive portrait, flan split, weight 3.538 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 202 - 22 Jan 205 A.D.; obverse PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGG (harmony between the two emperors), Concordia standing half left, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; scarce; $210.00 (186.90)


Macrinus, 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D.

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Annona was worshiped in Rome as the goddess who prospered the year's supply of grain. She was represented on an altar in the capitol. The three principal granaries of Rome were Sicily, Egypt, and the African provinces. Annona civilis was the grain which purchased each year by the Roman state, then imported and put into storage, reserved and distributed for the subsistence of the people. Annona militaris was grain appropriated to the use of an army during a campaign.
SH72366. Silver denarius, RIC IV 26a (S), RSC III 47a; BMCRE V p. 501, 41; Hunter III 20; SRCV II 7340 var. (also cuirassed), NGC XF, strike 4/5, surface 4/5 (4160837-004), removed from plastic case; excellent portrait, weight 2.383 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 225o, Rome or Antioch mint, Dec 217 - 8 Jun 218 A.D.; obverse IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P II COS P P (high priest, tribune of the people for two years, consul, father of the country), Annona standing left, holding two ears of grain downward in right hand over modius overflowing with ears of grain at feet on left, cornucopia in left hand; NGC graded but removed from plastic case (slab) but comes with NGC tag; $180.00 (160.20)




  



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Masterpiece Portraits