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
in marble or bronze or Roman
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 Below is an unpublished sestertius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.
, 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
, 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.
missing then, are ADVENTVS AVGVSTI
. and Caracalla
, and FORT RED
no P P for Caracalla
! Indeed each of these types
could appear in two variants for SS and Car
., (a) without BRIT
, strictly mules
from old obv.
dies, (b) with BRIT
"There are also FORT RED dupondii
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
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.