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A N F F

Latin abbreviation: Annum Novum, Faustum Felicem - The wish of a happy and prosperous new year tendered for the Emperor.


DICTIONARY OF ROMAN COINS



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A.N.F.F. Annum Novum, Faustum Felicem.- The wish of a happy and prosperous new year tendered for the Emperor. On a large brass of Hadrian we read S. P. Q. R. A. N. F. F. OPTIMO PRINCIPI (or HADRIANO AVG. P. P.), within a laurel garland.- Senatus Populusque Romanus, Annum Novum Faustum Felicem Optimo Principi [i.e. adprecatur.]

This legend is the acclamation, by which the Roman Senate and people presaged for Hadrian a prosperous and happy new year. "But there was in the case of the Emperors a double new year annually. The first of these was the one common to all classes, viz., on the Calends of January, on which small presents called strenae were usually sent from one house to another, often inscribed with these words in full - ANNVM. NOVVM. FAVSTVM. FELICEM. as we are told by Fabretti. And this form of inscription furnishes us with the manner in which the initial letters on the coins now under consideration are to be interpreted. Good wishes for the well-being of a prince were customarily expressed at the beginning of the year, namely, on the third of the nones of January. [See the treatise De Numis VOTORVM, in Doct. Num. Vet. vol. viii.] The other new year was a day held sacred by the Emperors, as the one on which they commenced their reigns, being also called the natal day of the empire (dies natalis imperii). And indeed, it is in this sense that Senecam in his satirical work entitled Apocolocyntosis, calls the third of the ides of October, on which Claudius died, and Nero began to reign, "the new year, and the beginning of a most happy period" (annum novum, initium seculi felicissimi). As, however, on the return of both of these new years, prayers were offered for the welfare of the Emperor, it is difficult to decide which of the two should be understood on these coins; nor would the decision avail towards their illustration."

Thus leaving this point as much in doubt as he found it, Eckhel (vi. 509) next refers to Havercamp; but it is only to expose the absurdity of that writer's attempt to explain the legend of this coin, viz., S. P. Q. R. Anno Natali (i. e. Urbis) Fieri Fecit OPTIMO PRINCIPI.- Now what was the natal day of the city? Surely no other than that on which Romulus is said to have founded it. To accept the interpretation of Havercamp, therefore, would be to concur in supposing that these coins were dedicated by the Senate to Hadrian nearly nine hundred years before! "No doubt," adds the author of Doctrina, "this writer on many subjects - this polygraph- so learned on all other points, has in the present instance met the fate of those who eat of many dishes (polyphagś), and digest imperfectly." - It is with this sarcasm on the conjectural propensities of his erudite, but not always judicious, predecessor in the devious path of numismatic criticism, that Eckhel concludes his own inconclusive remarks on the point in question - a point on which, from what Capt. Smyth aptly calls "the vexatious ambiguity of abbreviations," doubt is still left as to the new year in this instance meant - whether from the founding of the city, the birth-day of the Emperor or that of the kalends of January. - The S. C. is omitted from this large brass medal, the S. P. Q. R. being equally the stamp of senatorial authority.


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