Numism > Reading For the Advanced Collector

A new sestertius obverse legend for Antoninus Pius in 139


According to the standard catalogues, the additon of P P (Father of his Country) to the sestertii of Antoninus Pius in 139 AD coincided with the shortening of their legends by the omission of IMP T AEL CAES HADR on the obverse and P M on the reverse. So before P P, the legends were


whereas after P P they were just


On denarii, however, the title P P was added shortly before the contraction of the legends. There the legend sequence was as follows, with Reka Devnia specimen counts added to indicate the relative size and duration of the issues:

1. IMP T AEL CAES HADR ANTONINVS / AVG PIVS P M TR P COS II, 115 denarii in the hoard.

2. The same, with P P added at the end of the reverse legend, 8 denarii in the hoard.

3. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P / TR P COS II or TR POT COS II or portrait of Marcus Caesar with title COS DES, 241 denarii in the hoard.

It is not surprising, then, that rare sestertii too have recently emerged that already add P P to the long legends, placing it however on the obverse rather than the reverse:

IMP T AEL CAES HADR ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P / P M TR POT COS II S - C, Fides standing r. holding two wheat ears downwards and plate of fruit before her face.

The first sestertius of these types appeared in the Garonne Hoard of 1965 and 1970, published in 1984, no. 3569, pl. LVIII: see scan below. In 1996 I was able to acquire a VF specimen from the same obverse die but a different reverse die. Recently I added another specimen, the third known to me, with a different obverse legend break, ANT - ONINVS rather than ANTO - NINVS, and from a third reverse die of the same Fides standing type; see dealer's pictures below.

It will be interesting to see if further sestertii emerge, from the same or different obverse dies, and perhaps with an additional reverse type or two. Pax standing and Annona standing between modius and prow may be expected, since the same two types also occur both in the preceding issue of sestertii without P P, and in the succeeding issue with P P and shortened legends. Will corresponding aurei or middle bronzes ever turn up, that similarly combine the new title P P with the long form of Antoninus' legends?

Charles S:
Here is another sestertius (24,97g, 32mm, 5h), recently acquired from CNG Electronic Auction 355, lot 535.  Details in

It is from the same obv. die as the Lanz specimen illustrated above.  The reverse type is also standing Fides, but from a different die as compared to the Lanz specimen.  It is close, perhaps the same rev. die as the Garonne Hoard specimen.

I would agree, probably same rev. die as the Garonne Hoard specimen.

CNG E473, 29 July 2020, lot 324, recently sold an interesting addition to this rare issue of Antoninus Pius sestertii with P P on obverse in 139: see image below.

Obverse: from the same die as the Garonne hoard coin with Fides standing reverse shown above.

Reverse: the Annona standing type which I predicted might appear in this early P P issue, but not the standard Annona type, which shows Annonna standing left between a modius and a ship, holding wheat ears and cornucopia.

Here Annona stands right (weight on left leg), head left, cornucopia held with tip turned from her body, also holding out a fold of drapery with her left hand, the boat omitted.

Strack 751 reported a sestertius with this reverse variant in Gotha, but coupled with the normal long obv. legend without P P. I too have such a coin in my collection; it is from the same rev. die as the new CNG coin with P P on obverse. CNG read their new coin as showing COS III on reverse, but I am sure COS II was intended, the apparent middle third stroke just being a die flaw.

Nice acquisition, Curtis


[0] Message Index

Go to full version