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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Unpublished Vespasian Dupondius OTD 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Roma_Orbis
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« on: March 18, 2005, 03:05:18 pm »

The last day in my collection of this most  unusual Vespasian hybrid  Dupondius, as it reached today the collections of the Bibl. Nationale (BN) Grin

- impressive Galba-style high relief cuirassed bust of Vespasian (laureated Dupondius!) die-match with BN472
- Galba reverse SECVRITAS P. ROMANI, die-match BN255

Seems to be a first emission for Rome. Unique?

Jérôme Cool
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Rupert
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2005, 03:39:19 pm »

Wow! I couldn't give a coin like this away. What did they give you for it? They would have to give me a VERY nice doublette of theirs, or take it out of my cold dead hand...

Rupert
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2005, 03:45:01 pm »

Well, I'm not in the trip of chasing the rarities; I would rather sell them to institutions! Tongue
Actually I prefer a common bronze in perfect condition with marvelous natural patina, than a unique ex in average state.

For example, I just purchased last Monday this bronze of Claudius (well, more expensive than the Vesp. Roll Eyes)

Jérôme Cool
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2005, 04:16:37 pm »

That's just beautiful, I like especially the light sand encrustations, but my mentality is just the opposite: I want the rarities. For example, this Antoninus is one of my favourites: It's only about fine, but it's the extremely rare ANNONA AUG FELIX with the pharos of Alexandria, 150 francs in Cohen (no. 54) and R3 in RIC (no. 757). Hard to get in EF, the BM won't give its specimen away Smiley.

Rupert
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curtislclay
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2005, 04:36:56 pm »

      The Vespasian is a wonderful coin, because of its combination of the very rare titulature of Vesp. late in 70, COS II D III, known from only this one middle-bronze obv. die and one sestertius obv. die, with a rev. die that was two years old, taken over from Galba.  Plus the nice condition!
      Another interesting point that Jerome alludes to:  Nero introduced the radiate portrait on his bronze coins, and it soon became the mark of the dupondius.  
     Galba and Vitellius, however, spurned Nero's innovation, probably considering it vainglorious; the color of the metal became the chief mark of their dupondii, which bore laureate or bare-headed portraits just like their asses.  
      It is not often remarked that Vespasian too spurned the radiate crown on his earliest middle bronzes, and issued yellow-metal dupondii with laureate obv. dies, like Jerome's coin of late 70.  The earliest dupondii of 71 too were still laureate (Paris 469-70 occur in yellow metal), and it was only now, early in 71, that the radiate crown was reintroduced on dupondii and again became the conventional mark of that denomination.
       Jerome's coin is not unique, however.  Another specimen from the same dies was in the 1923 Vierordt Sale, 1023, and the 1952 Ryan Sale, 2743.  This coin was acquired by Colin Kraay, who mentions it in his Aes Coinage of Galba, p. 53, note 71.  Very likely it is now in the Oxford collection.  BMC p. 183 describes it from the Vierordt Sale.
        Kraay also mentions that the same Galban Securitas rev. die of this coin was also used by Vespasian in 71 on a dupondius in Cambridge, Kraay's Galba pl. XXXVI.4, now with a radiate obv. portrait!
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2005, 05:26:41 pm »

     Not only the Pharos makes that A. Pius type interesting, but also the object held out by Annona, which may be the pass that Roman citizens had to present in order to obtain their free grain.
     Rupert's coin is from the same rev. die as the EF BM one, BMC pl. 40.1.  Strack 988 records further specimens in Berlin and Rome (Gnecchi coll.).
     That is a great rarity of exceptional interest that I too sought unsuccessfully for decades.   Having sold my first coll. to the BM, however, I no longer have to be envious, since I now seek only what the BM lacks!
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2005, 06:47:20 pm »

The Claudius dupondius is also an excellent coin.  The types may be common, but in that condition even a common bronze coin qualifies as a rarity!  Very few of those surviving are that nice.
Mint is not Rome, but a provincial mint distinguished for the first time by Laffranchi in 1948.  I call it the Pobla mint, probably located in Spain, because a large hoard of EF sestertii and dupondii in that style was found in 1872 at La Pobla de Mafumet in Spain, and has been published by Campo, Richard, and von Kaenel.
Looking again, I note that this Claudius too is a rare variant:  obv. legend ends not P M TR P IMP as usual, but IMP P M TR P.  This is the EARLIER form of Claudius's usual obv. legend of AD 41-2, very rare at Rome, somewhat commoner at the Spanish mint and the Gallic mint.  Jerome's coin seems to be from the same obv. die as a specimen in Glasgow, HCC pl. 17, 53.
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2005, 08:06:33 am »

Thanks Curtis for all this information. I'll provide the existence of a 2nd ex (Vierordt sale) to Mr Amandry.
One question raised by this ex and the other Dupondius you mention with a radiate crown, is, why a 3 years old die from Galba was reused for several months under Vespasian? Was it that the message "Security of the Roman People" under Galba was a pertinent message at the beginning of the reign of Vespasian, and it was cost-effective to reuse the die?
This anyway shows the continuity in the Rome mint under the Civil War events!

Actually the discussion about the Dupondius features at Nero, Galba, Vitellius and Vespasian is extremely interesting (I'm mainly a collector of mid-bronzes). The strike of mid-bronzes of that period are a little clearer to me now. There are also other periods showing sometimes a lack of the radiate crown for emperors: Hadrian, Antonine, or the use of radiate crown for mid-bronzes struck for use in the East (the so-called "Antioch mint" for Trajan, SC within crown).

Your information about the Claudius is also very precious, as I thought such a style could only have been issued at the Rome mint. Indeed the seller told me that it has been found in Spain. Knowing the local issued from Gaul or Britain, I could never have imagined this would have been a provincial issue.
This leads to another question, where I can make a link with my remark above about Antoch mint for Trajan: knowing that the provincial issues (outside Lyon-Lugdunum) are almost systematically of a cruder style, see:
- Claudius like this one (excellent style),
- Tarraco for Vitellius (crude style) vs Rome mint (excellent style),
- usual Antioch mint  bronzes (crude style) vs Trajan/SC with crown or Hadrian MB or "Semis" with Lyra or Antioch Tychè for Antioch/Syria (excellent style)
- Mines quadrantes for Trajan, Hadrian, Antonine (DARDANICI, METAL VLPIANI, etc ...), excellent style
- BRITANNIA reverses for Antonine, (good style but bad strikes and flans)

couldn't we say that some issues struck to circulate in some dedicated part of the empire were actually struck in the Rome mint, to be shipped to the concerned area? They bear an unimitable Rome mint-style; I'm convinced of this for the Trajan/Hadrian Eastern bronzes and the Mines quadrantes at least.

Rupert, I've never come across such an Antonine like this; I like the representation with a Pharos (it's most probably not the one of Alexandria, but a generic one, as many ancient lighthouses were built similarly, as a 3-levels building; the remains of a small one with more than 1 level still exists in Eastern Europe, along the adriatic sea, can't remember exactly where). If I come across it in a gVF condition, I'll keep it Wink

Jérôme Wink
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2005, 08:59:28 pm »

Jerome,
        Quite a few Galban rev. dies for sestertii or middle bronzes, as discovered by Colin Kraay, were reused by Vitellius and/or Vespasian.  No ideological point was intended, I believe: the dies had survived and were in good condition, the types were of the general kind appropriate to any emperor, so they were reused.
        After Vespasian up to early 71, the next emperor to omit the radiate crown on his dupondii, probably also because he considered it a divine attribute unsuitable for mortals, was Hadrian at the end of his reign, from about 129 on (HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS / COS III P P issue, followed by the huge HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P issue).
        As in the case of Vespasian continuing the practice of Galba and Vitellius, it has seldom been noticed that A. Pius continued Hadrian's practice during the first few months of his reign.  Pius' earliest dupondii as Augustus show a bare portrait; the radiate portrait does not reappear until early in 139, or possibly late 138 on a rare coin I'm not sure about and will have to recheck.
       There is no doubt that some provincial coins were struck at the mint of Rome or using dies cut by Roman engravers; this matter has been discussed recently on Moneta-L, Re: Domitian tetradrachms from Antioch.
        The Pobla-mint bronzes of Claudius I, however, are NOT in Roman style.  They have a particular and vigorous style of portraiture and engraving that you will learn to recognize.  Characteristic marks that never occur at Rome include (1) letter R, formed by an upright stroke and what looks like a backwards S, which joins the upright at the top but does NOT reach back to it in the middle, leaving a clear "leak" in the normally closed circlet at the top.  (2) Letter M, ofter narrower at the bottom than at the top.  (3)  Often dots left and right of S C in rev. exergue.
Yours,
Curtis
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2005, 04:37:09 pm »

The radiate crown indeed reappears for A. Pius late in 138, still COS DES II, Walker, Roman Coins from the Sacred Spring at Bath, pl. XXXIX, no. 1.  I also have a specimen of this coin from the same dies in my own specialized coll. of the coinage of Antoninus as Caesar and during his first year as Augustus.
Curiously, I also have a plaster cast of a bare-headed middle bronze of Pius as COS II, early 139, which I saw years ago at M&M Basel, and noted as being yellow metal, i.e. a dupondius.  So if my note is correct, the switchback to the radiate crown for dupondii was not immediate and exclusive, or possibly the COS DES II dupondius was actually struck in 139 using an old rev. die with invalid titulature.  There are a lot of mules in the bronzes of A. Pius in 138-9, which is one of the chief reasons I decided to collect them in detail.
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2005, 05:52:57 pm »

Curtis,

- the conclusion is that between 129 and 139, not a single dupondius features a portrait with radiate crown at all?

- if I come back to the Claudius dupondius, I still wonder how come such a good style, while usually (and even the so-called "Perinthus" mint for Nero and the Flavians) outside Rome and lugdunum, the provincial styles are crude (e.g. Tarraco for Vitellius, Gallic mints for Claudius, etc ...). Such engravers were probably of Greek origin (as would have been most of the Rome mint engravers). If this is clearly a Spanish issue, such talented engravers located in Spain must have been then relocated somewhere else, as this mint stopped issues after Claudius? But then, is this peculiar style you describe (R, M letters) appear somewhere else? Is there a continuity with other Rome/Lugd. issues?
Could these engravers be like the extraordinary engraver of the Postumus aureus with the bust seen from 3/4 (for me, designing the best Roman portrait coin of all times): great talents outside any classical Roman mint, shining for a short period of time?

Jérôme Cool
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2005, 06:37:15 pm »

Jerome,
     On your first question, see Mattingly in BMC III, p. clxxi:  "In this issue [HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS / COS III P P] the dupondius is no longer distinguished from the As by the radiate crown:  the Emperor's head on both is now either bare or laureate.  This use lasts to the end of the reign."
     That would be 132-8 AD on Mattingly's chronology, but that crams 90% of the coinage of 128-138 into only 60% of the timespan.  Assuming an even level of production year for year, the HA / COS III P P issue will have started in 129.
     On the second matter, I don't know where those engravers came from.  When I have more time I'll have to see whether I can find a similar style at any provincial mint in RPC I!
Regards,
Curtis
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« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2006, 03:26:52 pm »

The Pobla-mint bronzes of Claudius I, however, are NOT in Roman style.  They have a particular and vigorous style of portraiture and engraving that you will learn to recognize.  Characteristic marks that never occur at Rome include (1) letter R, formed by an upright stroke and what looks like a backwards S, which joins the upright at the top but does NOT reach back to it in the middle, leaving a clear "leak" in the normally closed circlet at the top.  (2) Letter M, ofter narrower at the bottom than at the top.  (3)  Often dots left and right of S C in rev. exergue.

Searching for information about the Pobla de Mafumet hoard found in 1872, I found that 152 out of around 250 are hosted in the archeological museum of Tarragona. Some of the coins are shown here (they're all in EF+ grade!): http://www.mnat.es/exposic/tresor/cast/monedes.htm
In their description, they still state that they came directly from the Rome mint, through Tarraco.

Jérôme
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« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2006, 03:56:23 pm »

Probably they are following von Kaenel, who I think is certainly wrong.

Von Kaenel followed Laffranchi's division of Claudius' bronze coinage into Rome and two other large groups, but he thought the non-Roman groups too were produced in Rome, in commercial establishments that the mint commissioned to strike official coins when the volume of coinage required exceeded the mint's capacity!
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