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Caligula Dupondius With Unrecorded Reverse Legend

By Joe Geranio

I bid on a Caligula Nero and Drusus on horseback dupondius a few months back, and only wanted the coin for the very unusual inscription (see at 11'oclock). C CAESAR DIVI AVG PRON AVG P M TR P IIII P P P EX, legend around large S C. RIC I 49 var. (rev. legend; Gaius).

CNG states it is apparently unrecorded with the reverse legend ending P EX. I can state as a Julio Claudian coin collector and specializing in Caligula's coinage that I have never run across this. So, I believe it is unrecorded as CNG stated. Of course I got curious and started looking for other similar legends. I was blessed enough to run across Forum member Charles S's issue of the same inscription TRP IIII P P P EX. Charles was nice enough to let me use his coin photo. Charles states in his tag on the coin: " The legend on this coin is unusual, because it ends with TR P IIII P P EX instead of just TR P IIII P P. Compare with Cohen 2. RIC 49 gives the reverse legend ending with TR POT IIII P P instead of TR P IIII P P."

Click to view full size image



I raised the topic on Forum's Classical Numismatic Discussion and received some interesting observations. Curtis Clay was helpful, as usual, and stated:
"Charles S's specimen, apparently from a different obverse die but from the same reverse die with the anomalous inscription, guarantees the originality of that inscription, since the PEX or REX has certainly not been added to that coin by modern tooling!

Too bad it's weakly struck at exactly the spot in question so doesn't seem to clarify whether the added letters are PEX or REX.

Neither of the proposed solutions, Caligula called REX or EX S C with an unexplained third P before the EX, seems at all persuasive, so I'd say this is a problem we just have to admit we can't solve, until maybe more specimens appear and somebody can solidify one of the two proposed solutions or come up with a new one."

I have to agree here with Curtis and just don't know, although I have sent off photos to an expert archaeologist/ numismatist in Holland.  I am posting this to see if there are any other thoughts or coins with the same PEX inscription that readers are aware of in collections?

Here is the normal inscription for the Nero and Caesar dupondius TRP IIII

C CAESAR DIVI AVG PRON AVG P M TR P IIII P P round S C. RIC Gaius 49. BMC Gaius 70.

So we have the P P for Pater Patriae, so what is the extra "P" for? I don't think even Caligula would have been bold enough to put an "R" there (FOR REX)? But it is interesting that this rare PEX inscription are only on the TRP IIII issues from the last days of his reign.

This is why I love the early Julio-Claudian empire coins - the little things that pop up.