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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Quality| ▸ |Masterpiece Portraits||View Options:  |  |  | 

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits

We define a superb portrait as one that appears that it could come to life. Most coin portraits actually lack this trait. A masterpiece portrait not only appears that it could come to life, but also makes an impression of what the subject was like, what they were thinking or how they felt. Of course, an abstract Celticized portrait may also be a masterpiece of a different kind. For the most part, we define a portrait as depicting a real person, not a god, personification or mythical hero, but we will make an exception here when the depiction is especially amazing. In addition to portraits of the finest style, on this page we include rarer bust types and portraits that we just find attractive or interesting.

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.||sestertius|
A decursio was a military exercise, by which Roman soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They sometimes consisted of a mock fight between two divisions. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. Decursio on this coin probably refers Nero's participation in mock military maneuvers in the circus.
SH96390. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 508, Mac Dowall WCN 448, BMCRE I 316, BnF II 135, Cohen I 88, SRCV I -, Choice aEF/VF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, scratches, marks, porosity more on the reverse, weight 23.971 g, maximum diameter 35.4 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 66 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PONT MAX TR POT P P, laureate head left, small globe at point; reverse DECVRSIO (in exergue), Nero and a companion on horseback prancing right, Nero holds spear in right hand, companion holds vexillum in right over shoulder, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $1860.00 (€1525.20)
 


Otacilia Severa, Augusta, February or March 244 - September or October 249 A.D., Pella, Macedonia

|Pella|, |Otacilia| |Severa,| |Augusta,| |February| |or| |March| |244| |-| |September| |or| |October| |249| |A.D.,| |Pella,| |Macedonia||pentassarion|
Pella is an ancient city located in Central Macedonia, Greece, best known as the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great.
RP93126. Bronze pentassarion, RPC Online VIII U68748 (4 spec.), Moushmov 6494, Varbanov III 3764 var. (obv. legend, R5), SNG ANS -, BMC Macedonia -, gVF, striking bold portrait, brown patina, small deposits, light marks, central dimple on reverse including circular lathe marks, weight 9.489 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 90o, Pella mint, Feb/Mar 244 - Sep/Oct 249 A.D.; obverse M OTACIIL SEVERA EY (Y upside down), draped, bust right, wearing stephane; reverse COL IVL AVS PELLA, Fortuna seated on ornamented chair left, holding hand to mouth, left arm resting on back of chair; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $240.00 (€196.80)
 


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D.

|Geta|, |Geta,| |209| |-| |c.| |26| |December| |211| |A.D.||denarius|
Minerva, equated with the Greek Athena, was the Roman virgin warrior goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music. She was worshiped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno.
RS97463. Silver denarius, RIC IV 34b; RSC III 104a; BMCRE V p. 244, 446; Hunter III 20; SRCV II 7186, Choice gVF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, toned, edge ragged with splits and cracks, weight 3.550 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 205 - 208 A.D.; obverse P SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES, older boy's bare-headed and draped bust right, from behind; reverse PONTIF COS (priest, consul), Minerva standing left, helmeted, resting right hand on grounded shield, spear vertical behind in left hand; ex Savoca Coins auction blue 89 (07 Nov 2020), lot 1289; $175.00 (€143.50)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

|Septimius| |Severus|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.||denarius|
Providence is most often depicted clothed in a matron’s gown, holding a cornucopia in her left hand and in her right a short wand, which she points to a globe. She holds this globe in her right hand or it lies at her feet. The type is intended to mark the power and wisdom of the emperor, who ruled the Roman world. On this coin the plural AVGG indicates two Augusti, Severus and his son Caracalla.
RS97451. Silver denarius, RIC IV 166, RSC III 586, BMCRE V 197, SRCV II 6354, Hunter III -, aEF, excellent portrait, nice toning, small scratch in beard, edge a little ragged, weight 3.184 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 200 - 210 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS AVG PART MAX, laureate head right; reverse PROVID AVGG (the foresight of the two emperors), Providentia standing left, wand in right hand held over globe at feet on left, long grounded scepter vertical in left hand; $160.00 (€131.20)
 


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

|Julia| |Mamaea|, |Julia| |Mamaea,| |Augusta| |13| |March| |222| |-| |February| |or| |March| |235| |A.D.||denarius|
Fecunditas (Latin: "fecundity, fertility") was the goddess of fertility. She was portrayed as a matron, sometimes holding a cornucopia or a hasta pura, with children in her arms or standing next to her.
RS94690. Silver denarius, RSC III 6, RIC IV 332, BMCRE VI 913, SRCV II 8208, Hunter III -, gVF, dark as-found hoard toning, excellent portrait, flow lines, tight flan, some light corrosion, small edge cracks, weight 1.334 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 232 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, with looped plait at the back of neck; reverse FECVND AVGVSTAE, Fecunditas enthroned left, reaching out with her right hand to small boy standing before her nude with hands raised, left arm on chair; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $140.00 (€114.80)
 


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Traianopolis, Thrace

|Roman| |Thrace| |&| |Black| |Sea|, |Caracalla,| |28| |January| |198| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.,| |Traianopolis,| |Thrace||AE| |22|NEW
Traianopolis (Traianoupoli, Greece today) was founded by the Romans and, of course, named after Emperor Trajan. In the Roman period, the city was famous for its baths. In the 4th century, it became the capital of the province of Rhodope.
RP97249. Bronze AE 22, Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana 85; Varbanov III 2828 (R4); Moushmov 5049; BMC Thrace p. 178, 10 var. (legend, head bare); SNG Cop -, VF, superb portrait, bumps, obverse off center, scattered porosity, edge split/crack, weight 5.434 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Traianopolis (Traianoupoli, Greece) mint, 211 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse AYT K M AYP CE ANTΩNEINOC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse TPAIANOΠOΛEITΩN, Hermes standing slightly left, head left, nude but for chlamys over left shoulder and arm, messenger bag (made from an udder) in right hand, winged caduceus in left hand; $95.00 (€77.90)
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

|Roman| |Egypt|, |Gallienus,| |August| |253| |-| |September| |268| |A.D.,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt||tetradrachm|
In 268, Germanic Alamanni tribes invades Italy north of the Po River. In November, a Roman army of 35,000 men under emperor Claudius II defeated them along the banks of Lake Garda.
RX93394. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 2944; Milne 4188; BMC Alexandria p. 290, 2229; SNG Cop 802; Kampmann 90.97; Emmett 3804 (R1); Curtis -; Dattari -, VF, superb portrait style, flow lines, porosity/mild corrosion, a little off center on a broad flan, edge cracks, weight 10.192 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 267 - 28 Aug 268 A.D.; obverse AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse eagle standing left, head turned back right, wreath in beak, palm frond right, L IE (year 15) left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $75.00 (€61.50)
 







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