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Eastern denarii of Hadrian

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Many thanks for sharing these fascinating coins. I, for one never knew that these eastern denarii existed and it is wonderful to see them. I notice that all the examples are struck on good sized flans. Is this typical of these issues?

Hadrian's Eastern denarii are rare and not well documented. I've been collecting them for a few years now in order to try to get enough examples so as to write a book on them as Metcalf did with Hadrian's AR Cistophori by mint.

Over the past 2 years, I have only been able to acquire 3 Antioch mint pieces and 13 other Eastern mint coins. The coins definitely were different "Eastern" mints, based on style.

Here is an Antioch mint example:

Hadrian, AR Denarius, 117-138, Antioch
Laureate, cuirassed bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder
Pax standing facing, head left, branch downward in right hand, cornucopiae in left
PAX in exergue
20mm, 2.91g
RIC II, --; BMCRE --; RSC --

And here are some other examples of completely different style/mint:

Hadrian, AR Denarius, 134-138 (?), Undetermined Eastern Mint
Bare head right, slight drapery on left shoulder
Clementia or Concordia standing facing, head left, patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left
18mm x 20mm, 3.02g
RIC II, 245a (Rome)

Hadrian, AR Denarius, 134-138, Undetermined Eastern Mint
Bare head right
Egypt reclining left, sistrum in right hand, left arm resting on modius filled with grain ears, ibis at feet
18mm x 20mm, 3.39g
RIC II, 297 (Rome)

Hadrian, AR Denarius, 131-132 (?), Undetermined Eastern Mint
Bare head right
Concordia or Clementia standing facing, head left, patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left
19mm, 2.76g
RIC II, --

Here is my page on Hadrian, which covers all of the Rome and other mint pieces I have or have had:

As far as I am aware, the largest single collection of Eastern mint Hadrian denarii sold as a collection was Michael Kelly's pieces by Spink in Auction 123, November 1997.  Mr. Kelly had 1 Antioch mint piece (Aequitas reverse) and 9 other "Asia Minor" mint examples. He sent me a copy of the auction catalogue to use for my research. Unfortunately, it seems that after looking at my collection for a while, Mr. Kelly got the bug again and has restarted collecting the Eastern mint coins!



A couple of comments:

Yes, the early Eastern denarii (Antioch) are from a different mint than the later ones (Asia Minor), but it would appear that the later Asia Minor series may all be from one rather than several mints.

You can't, I think, write a book about these coins based solely on the ones you manage to buy; you've got to collect all available material from museum and other private collections and innumerable published works too, as Metcalf did for the cistophori!  Plus, nowadays, all the material accessible via the internet.

You've got to study the Roman coinage of Hadrian too, since the date of the appearance of a certain type or legend at Rome provides the terminus post quem for its appearance on the Eastern denarii.  Mattingly's date of 134 for the introduction of the obv. legend HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P at Rome, for example, is a major obstacle to correctly understanding the Eastern denarii, since it is apparently a couple of years too late.  Assuming an even production of denarii year by year from 128 until 138, that obv. legend will have been introduced at Rome c. 131, meaning that the Eastern denarii do not have to last beyond 132 and can be plausibly associated with Hadrian's second provincial tour, which began in 128 and may also have ended in 131 or 132.

You have some very nice and interesting Eastern pieces, for example the three with the rarer obv. legend HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P that you show us above!

The last Hadrian denarius under mint of Rome on your website, with rev. COS III, Victory seated l., 2.41 g., is in fact also Eastern. 

Right above that coin you have two with rev. COS III, Aequitas standing l.  I am inclined to think, though it is not yet proven, that all coins with this type belong to the Eastern mint, their rather fine style being due to the fact that they are the mint's earliest coins, so still strongly under the influence of the mint of Rome, perhaps even using engravers from that mint.


Since Hadrian's Roman denarii too are generally on ample flans, flan size has never been one of my conscious criteria for recognizing Eastern denarii, but maybe it contributes to my recognition of the Eastern "fabric"!


Thanks for the information and I'll go review the pieces you mention. I am actually keeping all of the information on any examples that come up for my research, which is why Michael Kelly sent me the Spink auction catalog. Hopefully there really will be enough pieces of data to put something together and I do somewhat collect Hadrian's Rome coinage as well, which will also help to compare for the research and chronology. Metcalf's book will also hopefully be of some guidance when comparing styles.

Best regards,


ps - I still LOVE that first piece you showed me at the ANA show a couple of weeks ago. An excellent find!

frederic W:
Very interesting ! Thank you.


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