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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Missing sestertii 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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curtislclay
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« on: March 05, 2006, 03:56:52 pm »

     In another thread, Basemetal asked how often totally new types turn up on ancient coins.
     Focusing on Roman coins, the answer is that we certainly know all of the common types, the ones that made up 99% of the coinage in circulation and that appear in dozens or hundreds of new examples in every large hoard covering the period in question.  The relative completeness of our knowledge is one of the advantages numismatics has over other fields of study in antiquity, say the study of Greek vase paintings or Roman imperial portraits in marble or bronze or Roman historical reliefs. 
     However, it is quite common to find new variants of known coin types, say a new officina or new bust type on late Roman coins, or a known type with a new date or in a new denomination on earlier Roman coins.  Individually these new variants will all be rare, but there are so many different ones out there that they seem to be turning up all the time.
     Totally new types occur infrequently, only once a decade or once a century for some emperors, maybe as frequently as once a year for some others.  A lot of new types have been turning up recently for Pescennius Niger, for example.
     It's easy to assume we know most of the original variants in a coinage, but every once in a while a new type emerges which shows how incomplete our knowledge actually is.  Below is an unpublished sestertius of Septimius Severus that I recently acquired, about which I wrote as follows to a friend who brought it to my attention:
    "It's surprising to be reminded how much is missing, even in an eagerly collected and reasonably common coinage like Severan sestertii of 211!  The clear conclusion is that even in common coinages some types were struck in small volume and have perished entirely, or at least not yet been discovered.
    "On denarii, two related types were struck for all three emperors early in 211, ADVENTVS AVGVSTI for all three and FORT RED TR P XIX for Sev., TR P XIIII no P P for Car., and TR P III no P P for Geta.
    "The remnants of this issue on sestertii are: ADVENTVS AVGVSTI for Geta, long unique in BM, until a second spec. appeared in the Friedrich Coll. in 1995, which I bought because it's different dies from the BM's.
    "Now FORT RED TR P XIX for SS, the Rauch coin you discovered.
    "Still missing then, are ADVENTVS AVGVSTI for Sev. and Caracalla, and FORT RED no P P for Caracalla and Geta!  Indeed each of these types could appear in two variants for SS and Car., (a) without BRIT on obv., strictly mules from old obv. dies, (b) with BRIT.
    "There are also FORT RED dupondii and asses for all three emperors. ADVENTVS AVGVSTI would be possible here too, but maybe that type was omitted on MB.
    "I recall you got an unpubl. Car. aureus a few years ago with this same FORT RED no P P type of early in 211."
     This issue is historically interesting, because it tells us something that is not in any of the surviving literary texts:  that Septimius, Caracalla, and Geta, doubtless because of Septimus' illness, had decided to break off their British campaign and return to Rome even before Septimius died at York on 4 Feb. 211.

 
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2006, 06:22:18 pm »

   The inference is chilling.....that both Caracalla and Geta returned to Rome to reinforce their support base even as their father lay apparently terminally ill in Britain. Cold.
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curtislclay
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2006, 06:35:48 pm »

No, they didn't actually return, the historians tell us they were with their father in York when he died. 
What the coins tell us is that all three of them were PLANNING to return to Rome, and announced their intention on the coins, though Septimius' illness made it impossible for them to actually do so until after he had died.
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curtislclay
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2007, 11:47:22 pm »

Another sestertius of this rare issue has turned up, shown by Tanit in the Identification board:
the third known sestertius of Geta with reverse ADVENTVS AVGVSTI S C, 27.89g, 6h.  Here is the coin, along with a Glasgow sestertius with rev. VICT BRIT TR P III COS II S C, which is from the same obverse die:

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curtislclay
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2007, 11:56:21 pm »

Here are the two previously known specimens of the same coin, one in BM from Captain Smyth's collection and one in my collection from NAC's 1995 sale of the Friedrich Collection of Roman imperial sestertii

Surprisingly, all three specimens of this sestertius are from different obv. and rev. dies.  One might have expected such a rare coin to come from only a single reverse die.

BMC calls the figure leading the horse a "soldier".  However, it seems to be a female with bare r. breast, therefore Virtus or Roma. She is helmeted, carries a vexillum over her r. shoulder, and leads the horse by the reins with her l. hand.

The emperor on horseback is laureate and unbearded, wears military dress, raises his r. hand in greeting, and holds a spear pointing upwards under his l. arm.

A very similar type, though with the emperor riding r. rather than l., appeared on aurei, sestertii, and asses of Septimius in 196 with the legend ADVENTVI AVG FELICISSIMO.  The denarii with the same legend in 196 omit the lady leading the horse, just as on the denarii of 211.

The third-known Geta ADVENTVS from new dies is nice, but I'm still waiting for the four missing sestertii to turn up: the ADVENTVS type for Septimius and Caracalla, and the FORT RED seated type for Caracalla and Geta without P P!
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 09:55:51 am »

Here, several years later, is the Caracalla FORT RED sesterius without P P, ex Artemide Aste 11E, 15-16 Oct. 2011, lot 406, 21.66g, axis 6h, their pictures:

M [AVREL ANT]ONINVS - PIVS AVG BRI[T], bust laureate r., probably with aegis with Medusa head instead of just folds of cloak on front shoulder and behind neck. Unfortunately I don't know any other sestertius from the same obverse die to clarify this detail.

[FORT RE]D TR [P XII]II COS III around, S C in exergue, usual seated Fortuna Redux type with wheel under seat.

The reading seems to be certain despite the weakness of the reverse legend.

1. Legend apparently ends COS III. No trace of or space for the added letters P P thereafter.

2. Just above Fortuna's head, the D of RED and the TR of TR P, following continuously without any space between the D and the TR, are weak but absolutely certain on the coin. The P P coins also have P M between FORT RED and TR P XIIII; that P M was definitely never present on this coin. That guarantees that this reverse die was engraved before Caracalla became P M and P P upon the arrival in Rome of news of his father's death.

So we have reached the half way mark for this issue, three sestertii now known of the six that were probably struck.

Known: ADVENTVS AVGVSTI for Geta, FORT RED for Septimius and Caracalla.

Still to be found: ADVENTVS AVGVSTI for Septimius and Caracalla, FORT RED without P P for Geta.

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Curtis Clay
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