The circumference legend of the obverse is given first, then in a new line the part beneath the heads; the latter itself is in two or three lines, so they are separated by / marks.  For example:
with squared-C sigmas (all the sigmas are C sigmas, and only the squared ones are mentioned).  The vertical line | is used to mark a break in the circumference legend.
This example.is from the obverse listed at Pick’s no. 723, one of those, as it happens, where Diadumenian faces right.


Obverse Die Types, I–V

This listing of the dies is in a logical order, beginning with those where Macrinus faces right, followed by those where Diadumenian faces right but is still named second in the legend, followed finally by those where it is Macrinus whose name is relegated to the space below the heads.  It must be emphasized that a logical order, though reasonable, need not be developmental, particularly when very little time is involved, as must be the case here.




































The foregoing are the only confronted-bust dies discussed here that resemble ordinary confronted portraits with legends completed underneath, such as those issued by Quintilian for Caracalla and Domna, both before and after Macrinus.






Some of these coins, and almost all of those that follow, depart from the typically realistic Macrinus and round-cheeked Diadumenian of the Marcianopolis pentassaria. Most of them, also, especially when the reverse die is stylistically consistent with the obverse (looks as if they belong to each other) show rather flattened facial planes (beyond the effects of wear) and sharply offset facets in lieu of smooth modeling whether of the faces or, in the reverse, of the torso and the drapery, and they have the round-backed epsilon for the value mark. It should be emphasized that the anatomy and its foreshortening remain well understood. These do not really anticipate the radical changes in rendering human form and the appearance of bodies from a given vantage point that will eventuate in Late Antique styles. They rather look hasty, like the hasty work of highly skilled craftsmen.


























Every observation made above, opposite example no. 7, with its seated Zeus, applies a fortiori to this coin and others closely related to it.


It is for these reasons that these 'singular' dies seem quite possibly to represent an exceptional campaign to produce a large number of coins quite suddenly and in a limited space of time: they are so alike, and the general effect of some of the dies so similar that at arm's length a Zeus and an Homonoia may look as if they were the same figure. Others, such as the seated Tyche with a rudder, produce a fine effect, though her forearms, like those of the Zeus of no. 11, are really done with single gouged out grooves. So far from lack of skill, these effects testify to a very strong sense of form, to get such a result with so little retouching.





Some of the enthroned Cybele dies made for Septimius a bare decade earlier hardly produce the effect of a living female form (let alone a goddess), but the simple forms (again mere gouges, technically described) for Cybele's thighs here, on the contrary, are hardly noticeable as short cuts.




On the other hand, when the river god seen here with an obverse that seems to match is used with a 'normal' confronted busts obverse, one of the finest, its flat planes and sharp facets are immediately apparent.

The obverse die with the wedge punctuation at 6h is one of the finest 'normal' dies, showing a father and son both realistic and imperial. This river god die seems ill matched, but it is not rare to find this cross-linking of the two manners of engraving. The statuesque Asklepios of example no. 17, below, should be (we feel) associated with an obverse like this one, which in fact is perfect for the most godlike of the Marcianopolis Zeus dies.












Here, in a fine specimen, we see that the 'singular' dies are not so much inferior (nor all of them hasty) but different.





















It is not only the squared E but the statuesque character of this Asklepios (no. 17) that is at odds with the obverses covered here; rather, it belongs with a 'normal' die like that of the frontal Zeus shown with no. 14, above.

























Given the condition of some specimens and the illegibility of some images, it is difficult to be certain how many alternative dies there are that have K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS DI / ADOVME or ADOVMEN.  They are closely related, in any case, and so appropriately grouped together as above.  Some are not available in good enough images for this study.









The last two groups, IV and V, name either Diadumenian, but only naming him Antoninus, or actually put Macrinus last (not only facing left) with his name below the two heads.  These also are the portraits of Macrinus that, like some at Nicopolis, look more like each other than (probably) like the man himself.  They seem to be like some sort of a hieratic icon rather than a likeness, as so many of the normal Marcianopolis obverses, as well as most of the Nicopolis obverses, seem to have been.






































In the case, again, of no. 25, I should expect to find some day the use of this splendid reverse die with an obverse having the portrait heads engraved with the same rounded, delicate modeling as the figure of Hermes (again a reverse die with a square E)

























































































































A coherent group of obverse dies almost all with confronted heads of Macrinus and Diadumenian seems significant because, though they are very similar to one another, there are many of them.  The die-engraver’s style is assured, but some of the engraving is very hasty.  They are the only Marcianopolis dies where the son’s head not infrequently faces right, his father’s left, and neither of them in that case is a draped bust.  They all have two or more lines completing the obverse legend underneath the confronted heads.  Finally, they are the only Marcianopolis obverse dies for Macrinus and Diadumenian some of which look as if they could be contemporary with the dies made for reverses signed by Pontianus at Nicopolis ad Istrum.

The obverse with confronted portraits, of course, always invited using the space below them to complete the second name, of an empress or of a Caesar (as of Geta to l. facing Caracalla to r.).  The Macrinus and Diadumenian group, however, stand out, not only because they drastically affect the typography of page after page in AMNG I, 1 , pp. 236–248, but for their other peculiarities.  The alternative die links, with otherwise known dies (not purpose made for these issues), cannot be fully accounted for here; there are many, and my own amassment overlaps but does not fully correspond to that of Hristova and Jekov, Marcianopolis, revised edition, 2006, or that illustrated in Varbanov Gr. Imp. Coins, Engl. ed., 2005.  Each includes some coins not listed by Behrendt Pick, in Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, I, 1, 1898, and all of us lack some that he knew.  AMNG and my collected specimens and Marcianopolis, however, all tell the same tale—however that should be interpreted.

For these reasons, they need to be set forth systematically.  First the dies with the Emperor facing right (as usual) are listed according to the content of the legends, then the dies with Diadumenian facing right.  The reverse dies (not just the subjects but, so far as possible, the specific dies) used with those obverse dies will be subsumed, with their own reverse legends.
The intent is to discover whether the impression of a real flurry of perhaps intense production of pentassaria is evidenced by these dies and then to compare them, where their character seems to require, with some die pairs issued by Pontianus at Nicopolis.  It is not expected that any actual reconstruction of what was going on can be made, but (as always in these fourteen months with three governors) to understand that any more exact picture of the minting production is important.  In AMNG I, 1, as well as in Hristova and Jekov’s Markianopolis, the listing is by the subject of the reverse die, so that (useful as that may be) they scatter these dies throughout.


AV K OPEL SEVÊ MAKREINO S K M OPEL and below ANTÔNEI / NO S, the RE in Makreinos a ligature. This obverse, Pick 718, Æ29, ex Löbbecke, is also that, as he noted, of nos. 725 and 743.

1. Æ27.  Zeus, half draped, stg. to l., making a libation over a burning altar.   This is Pick 718, but the same reverse description is given for no. 717; see the Zeus reverses HrJ6.24.1.14. http://www.diadumenian.com/Marcianopolis%20mac%20dia%20zeus%20altar.html , no. 5.94, or http://www.forumancientcoins.com/bacchus/index.html, where it is no. 5.83.  Private collection, N. Ireland..01bustsZeus

2. Æ27  Demeter, stg., holding scepter but with grain ears in her l. hand.  Notice the fringed, or blanket-stitched, edge to her garment.  Pick 725, HrJ  For a good image of a better preserved reverse, http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=11157&AucID=10&Lot=60602bustsDemeter

3. Æ27-8  Apollo stg. l., holding bow in his l. hand, making libation over an altar with his r., with hair, stance, and body proportions in the descent from the Kassel Apollo.  Square E for the value mark at r. in field.  Not in Pick or HrJ with this reverse die.03bustsKassel-like

4. With frontal Apollo (or Bonus Eventus), head to l.. http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=12413&AucID=11&Lot=878And, in a later auction, one with a ‘normal’ obverse and a variant reverse, with the value mark, square E, in r. field, HrJ, see http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=33769&AucID=37&Lot=542   A variant of this reverse die (without –TÔN in the exergue) is used with the draped busts of the present heading,  HrJ   Consideration of these Apollo coins, where he is in the pose similar to Bonus Eventus but has the laurel twig and the chignon of Apollo, in their multiple reverse variant dies and pairings, serves to illustrate why this list cannot include all the combinations that may exist, at this time.
Malcolm Megaw has a nice HrJ on his Diadumenian site: http://www.diadumenian.com/marcianopolis5.html, no. 5.9, or to http://www.forumancientcoins.com/bacchus/index.html, where it is no. 5.8, citing HrJ 7.11, the latterr with a different obv. die.  The common Apollos are not easy to distinguish in small images.  

5. Mkt Gorny122, 1664  http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=46275&AucID=50&Lot=1664 This is not a “var” of Pick 745’s obverse (a ‘normal’ confronted busts, with continuous legend), but it is exactly the reverse of Pick 745 = reverse of HrJ (which, however, has a Diadumenian facing right and three lines below heads for its obverse).  Here, again, the important fact is that this particular Asklepios reverse may be used with the present obverse.

6. Æ 26 Hygieia stg. r. with a muscular snake diagonally across her body, holding a ‘spilling’ patera in her l. hand.  This reverse is not in Pick or HrJ, but the HrJ 6.24.21. 2 has a different Hygieia, to l., with the present obverse.06bustsHygieia


7. Æ26  [AV K OPPEL] SEVÊ MAKRINOS K M and below OPPEL ANTÔ / [N]INOS DIA / [D]OVME[N?].  The obv. die of Pick 738 and 744, letter for letter.  Rev., Zeus std. l., half draped, short beard; no eagle.  HrJ  Cf. Pick 714–6.07MacDiaStdZeus

8. Æ26  (same obv. die as the last, with complementary gaps).  Rev., Homonoia stg. l, wearing kalathos; she pours a libation over a flaming, garlanded altar.  HrJ

9. Æ28  AV [K M] OPPEL SEVÊ MAKREINOS K M and below OPPE ANTÔN / INOS DIADO / VMEN.  This is the obv. die of Pick 748, which has an Asklepios reverse.  Note the split -OV- disphthong.  Rev., Homonoia stg. l., but in different style from the last, a slender and plain altar, and the rounded E in right field.  This is the reverse of Pick 764, Taf. XVIII, 34, and the die pair is HrJ  A closely similar alt. rev. die Busso Peus Auction 378, 987.09MacDiaHomonoia

10. Æ27  AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKREINOS K and below M OPPEL ANTÔ / NINOS DIADO / MENIA (note the K included in the circumference legend, so this is the only obv. legend that gets as far as -MENIA).  Note that this is not the obv. legend of Pick 746.  Rev., Beardless Asklepios, head to l., himation covering his l. shoulder, leaning with his r. on his snake staff; in the rev. exergue, only -ÔN (Pick 745 and 746 have -LITÔN there).  HrJ


For the principal die, that of nos. 12–14, note the V at exactly 12h ; on most of them a ding in the die just below the V appears in relief on the coins.  Those that may end in ADOVMEN are listed here, following.

11. Æ27  AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKREINOS (the mu and alpha unclear) and below K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS DI / ADOVME.  Rev., Youthful Zeus, half draped in himation, to l. making libation over a burning altar. -ÔN in exergue. 


12. Æ27  AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKRE[INOS] and below K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS D[I] / ADOVME.  Rev., Tyche with rudder and cornucopiae, seated l., -TÔN in exergue.

13CybeleStd13. Æ27. Rev., Cybele, wearing kalathos, seated leaning her l. elbow on tympanum and, in her r. hand, holding patera, on throne flanked by lions, to l. Private collection, New Mexico

14RiverGod14. 16 07 03 Æ27 (11.85g) [AV K OPPEL] SEVÊ MAKREINOS and below K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS DI / ADOVME (almost certainly without -N).  Rev., Bearded, half draped river god (his right arm on a prow or holding a twig, as Pick suggests from the Löbbecke specimen), leaning on rocks or the like and holding a reed in his l.  Pick notes this obv. die, also, with his no. 746, on which, however, the obv. legend ends in -N, as it does also with the female personification, identified in Forvm Discussion as Moesia, Pick 755: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=25011.0 , a superb coin of this kind).  Pick 754, Taf. XVIII, 6; rev. only HrJ



15Dikaiosyne 15. Æ27 AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKRINOS and below K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS DI / ADOVME.  Rev., Dikaiosyne with cornucopiae and scales, to l.  The obv. is that of the foregoing, and the legend matches, also, that of the Hera, below, and Pick 723, but seems to be a closely similar, different die.  Courtesy of Warren Esty collection.  Another specimen, http://www.vcoins.com/ancient/nemesis/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=4409&large=0 .
The Dikaiosyne is Pick 761, which has, as Pick says, the same obverse die as no. 757 (the Cybele on lion reverse, below).  HrJ


16. Forvm Ancient Coins, Hygieia to r. Obv. appareantly as the last. .http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/zoompgsold.asp?param=01033z00.jpg

Possibly also the next:


17. Æ27.  This seems to be to be the same die as the foregoing, with a ding below the V at 12h, but it may well be that which ends in ADOVMEN at the bottom, which is Pick 746.  The rev., Askelpios, of fine, Late Classical type, neither leaning nor playing with the snake on its staff, has a square E in left field and a void exergue.  The continuous  reverse legend, without ligatures and very regularly spaced, emphasizes the serious artistic character of the figure.  It is not in Pick, and only possibly is represented by the worn reverse of HrJ  The Asklepios on  http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=29028&AucID=30&Lot=1242 has the reverse legend interrupted over the head, besides having a ‘normal’ obverse.

18CybeleLion18. Æ27. AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKREINOS and below K M OPPEL AN / TÔNINOS DI / ADOVMEN(?).  Rev., Cybele wearing polos, carrying scepter and, with her r. hand, balancing her tympanum on the animal’s rump, riding her lion, which leaps to r.; over his head the round epsilon in the field.  Of the ethnic, -OLITÔN is in the exergue on all specimens.  Pick 757 (both dies), as also HrJ and Varbanov I (Engl.) 1259.  As on the following two, the V of SEVÊ is slightly to the right of 12h, and there are other subtle differences (as in the ties of the laurel) in the portraits.  Private collection.


19. Æ27.  This seems to be Pick 723, both dies, which has the V to the right of 12h.  An unassuming coin, but rare; Pick knew only “Paris Vaillant num gr 122”, and it is in neither HrJ nor Varbanov.  Hera is bareheaded, leans on scepter in her left, holds patera in her r. hand; note the round epsilon in the r. field, her beaded tress, and the fringe or blanket stitching on the vertical edge of her garment, by which she is related to other figures that have it.  The only reason for regarding it possibly as blanket stitching is that Classical art, as on the Parthenon frieze, uses it for woolen edges, whence it may have been adopted as sheer decoration here.  The ethnic ends with -ITÔN in the exergue.

20aAthena20bAthena20a-b. Æ27, Æ25.  Since this obverse does end with -ADOVMEN, it may be the same obv. die as Pick 731 and several others.  In any case, the die pair is HrJ  Rev., Athena, leaning on spear in her l., faces l. and makes a libation over a burning, garlanded altar.  The round epsilon is in the upper l. field, leaving the r. field empty; the ethnic ends with -TÔN in the exergue.  Two specimens are given to show relevant details as well as possible.


Three from the same obverse die, AV K OPPEL SEVÊ MAKRINOS and below K M OPPELI / ANTÔNIN / OS.  This is the obverse die of Pick no. 716 (and, with Liberalitas, no. 773 which has the same reverse as no. 770).

21Homonoia21. Æ26+  Rev., Homonoia, bare-headed, with cornucopiae and patera, pouring libation on a burning garlanded altar; notice her beaded tress and the fringed or blanket-stitched vertical edge on her garment.  The end of the ethnic, -LITÔN, is in the rev. exergue.  HrJ



22. Æ27  Rev., Young Zeus, resting on scepter and pouring libation; at his feet an eagle, its head turned to look back at him; in the exergue, only -POLI by way of completing the ethnic.  This is Pick no. 716, both dies, known to Pick only from Imhoof-Blumer’s cast, though the reverse is documented in several other places.  Not in HrJ.


23. Æ27  Rev., Young Asklepios, half draped in himation, looking l., offering a bun to his lively snake; in the exergue -OLITÔ / N.  This reverse die is Pick no. 746, there listed with a different obverse die.  Also, this is not the same Asklepios die as above in the group with confronted busts.


24.  Probably the same obverse die, much worn.  Rev., Young Asklepios, as the last, but apparently an alternate die.


25.  Æ26.The same obv. die, almost certainly, as above, paired with a truly exceptional rev. die, in a type also known for Gordian III (issued by Menophilus, Pick ).  A young, relatively fleshy Hermes in ¾ rear view, with a chlamys over his l. shoulder, holding his kerykeion forward like a wand, almost, over a stele at the right; square epsilon in field.  Obviously from a statuary or pictorial prototype (which is used variously also at other mints).  Pick no. 739 (with a different, ‘normal’ obverse). Private collection, NewMexico.

K M OP  |  PEL ANTÔNEINOS and below AV K OPPEL / SEVÊ MAKR / INOS.  Pick no. 772 (Mandl specimen for Liberalitas).

26FlatArtemis26. Æ26 Rev., Artemis Huntress, drawing arrow from quiver with her r. hand, bow held in her l., running hound at her feet, to r.

27FourCoiler27. Æ28+ Rev., Four-coil snake, its head to r., on exergue line; square epsilon in r. field by its tongue; this obv.die was known to Pick,  but not the snake with the E in the right field; also distinctive, the N by itself in the exergue.

28. Æ26 (the same obv. die, only burred by corrosion).  Rev., Apollo (or Bonus Eventus), head facing r., holding grain or laurel (lost) in his l. and patera in his r. over a flaming altar.  This exact combination of dies not located in Pick or HrJ or Varbanov (with -TÔN in rev. exergue).

The following obv. die, though similar in style to the foregoing, is unique, and apparently so is the reverse:
29. Gorny&M 134, no. 1786. K M OP  |  PEL  |  ANTÔNINoS (the omicron extremely small) and below AV K OPPEL / SEVÊ MA / KRINOS.  Rev., Nike with wreath and palm driving a galloping biga; two bound captives are beneath the horses.  Now also Varbanov I (Engl.) no. 1246.


In Coin Archives I found this remarkable tetrassarion for Macrinus, issued by Pontianus. The reverse type resembles no. 15, above, but it is the obverse that is in a style unique among the Marcianopolis tetrassaria for Macrinus. Like many of the heads in Groups III–V, above, it resembles a die introduced by Pontianus at Nicopolis ad Istrum, and it is the only single head at Marcianopolis that does. The other single heads on tetrassaria issued here by Pontianus are in several remarkably realistic, emphatically not hieratic manners. This die, however, seems to me to be the initial portrait die of Macrinus by the artist of the Nicopolis portrait head, earlier (by a month or two). As usual, attribution to a particular engraver would be frivolous if there weren't so much else that went with it.




For example, the Asklepios, as well as the hieratic head of Macrinus, on no. 23, above, is exactly in the same style and manner as that on this Pontianus issue for Macrinus at Nicopolis ad Istrum, though the two mints quite generally seem to be remarkably independent of each other.


The Nicopolis die seems to have been highly regarded, since it continued to be used on coins signed by Agrippa, not only initially but till the die was quite worn out. Here we see a specimen, with Hygieia, that shows almost no wear, though the letters show that the die was no longer quite so new as for the Asklepios coin.

These dies will be studied systematically in a page of their own, but they are one of the reasons for presenting the 'singular' two-headed dies here; it is in the 'singular' dies that, over and over, 'crossover', mint-to-mint, characteristics are noticeable that, especially taken all together, cannot be chance resemblances of common repertory. These include the female personification, probably Moesia, the lively, pictorial young Asklepios, and among significant details the decorative use of 'fringe' or blanket-stitching along the vertical edge of a female deity's garment, including that of the Hygieia, above.

There may not be any grounds on which to decide whether the Pontianus dies at Nicopolis are concurrent with some at Marcianopolis (perhaps this group of 'singluar' double-headed dies) or subsequent to them. In either case, very little time is involved, since it is not the Agrippa dies that link to Pontianus but those that have departed from the Pontianus model that represent the end of minting for Macrinus in Moesia Inferior.

Numerous ideas concerning these and related dies have been worked on in Forvm Discussion threads; searching merely 'Pontianus' yields the following that contain something relevant here, and heartfelt thanks are due to all who contributed. It will be seen that the coins illustrated here are only a representative selection of this obverse design.



http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=28138.0 (includes the Kassel-type Apollo)
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=25011.0 (my favorite thread in all Forvm)
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=21321.0 (cf. for style of Artemis, no. 26, above)

Patricia Lawrence 15 July 2007