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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Crisis and Decline ▸ Gordian IIIView Options:  |  |  |   

Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

Gordian III was the grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II. He was proclaimed Caesar shortly before the murder of Balbinus and Pupienus, and he succeeded them. Little is known about his reign. In 242 A.D. he embarked on a campaign against the Persian Kingdom which was so successful the Persians had to evacuate Mesopotamia. However, Gordian III died shortly after, through illness or the machinations of his Praetorian prefect and successor, Philip I.


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Under Gordian III the same coin types were often struck at both Rome and Antioch. One way to distinguish Gordian's coins struck at Antioch from those struck at Rome is the shape of the letter M. On coins from Antioch, M usually resembles a V in the middle of two I's, thus IVI. From the Rome mint, M normally resembles two lambdas, thus ΛΛ.
SH15422. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 14, Cohen V 409, Choice aEF, weight 4.580 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, 238 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VOTIS / DECENNA / LIBVS in wreath, extremely rare; SOLD


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Laetitia is the Roman goddess of gaiety and joy, her name deriving from the root word laeta, meaning happy. She is typically depicted on coinage with a wreath in her right hand, and a scepter, a rudder, or an anchor in her left hand.
SH77375. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 300a, Cohen V 122, Banti 38, Hunter III 140, SRCV III 8712, Choice EF, superb portrait, excellent centering and strike, slight double strike in legends, small flan crack, very light scratches reverse upper right field, weight 24.355 g, maximum diameter 32.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, late 240 - early 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse LAETITIA AVG N (the joy of our Emperor), Laetitia standing facing, head left, wreath in right hand, anchor in left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low in field; ex Kirk Davis Classical Numismatics; SOLD


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Apart from the common, large issues of 240 A.D., Gordian III also struck exceedingly small quantities in 238 and 239 A.D. We only know one other coin of this Jupiter type, an ex Forum coin in the Michael Mihalka collection. Other types known by just two or three specimens are Fides, Liberalitas and Victory.
SH53566. Silver denarius, RIC IV -, RSC IV -; cf. RIC IV 16 (antoninianus), RSC IV 189 (same), Choice VF, weight 2.653 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 239 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P II COS P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power for two years, consul, father of the country), Jupiter standing slightly left, nude but for cloak over arms, thunderbolt in right, long scepter in left hand, small figure of Gordian III at his feet left; extremely rare; SOLD


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Patara, Lycia

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From the birthplace of Santa Clause. Patara, sometimes renamed Arsinoe, was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey near the modern small town of Gelemis, in Antalya Province. Patara was said to have been founded by Patarus, a son of Apollo and was renowned for its temple and oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi. Apollo is sometimes mentioned with the surname Patareus. Patara is the birthplace of St. Nicholas (b. c. 15 March 270 A.D.), who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre).
RP87599. Bronze AE 29, SNGvA 4385; SNG Cop 117 118; BMC Lycia p. 77, 14; Von Aulock Lykien 197 , Choice F, nice green patina, well centered on a tight flan, weight 16.416 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Patara (near Gelemis, Turkey) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse ΠATAPEWN, Apollo standing slightly left, head left, laurel branch in extended right hand, bow in left hand at side; before him, on left, eagle standing left on omphalos with it head turned back right; behind, on right, serpent-entwined tripod lebes; rare; SOLD


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One of the rarest types of Gordian III.
SH42468. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 219, RSC IV 380, SRCV III 8667, gVF, weight 3.631 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 242 - 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VICTORIA GORDIANI AVG, Victory advancing right, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; rare; SOLD


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Odessos Thrace

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RP04788. Bronze medallion, SNG Cop 679 (same dies), VF, weight 28.65 g, maximum diameter 36.7 mm, die axis 0o, Odessos mint, obverse AYT K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC AYΓ, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust left, raising right, holding globe in left; reverse O∆HCCEITΩN, Gordian standing left, radiate, spear in left, offering over lit altar from patera in right hand; huge beautiful bronze; SOLD


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., as CAESAR

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Struck during the reign of Pupienus and Balbinus. Since these two new emperors were not popular with the mob of Rome, the young grandson of the late Gordian I was raised to the rank of Caesar becoming Gordian III. After the senior emperors were murdered by the Praetorians, he continued to rule as sole emperor, proof of the esteem his family had among Romans.
RS20282. Silver denarius, RIC IV 1, Cohen V 182, VF, full circle strike on both obverse and reverse, light porosity, weight 2.275 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, c. Apr - Jul 238 A.D.; obverse M ANT GORDIANVS CAES, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse PIETAS AVGG (to the piety of the two emperors), implements of the augurate and pontificate: lituus, knife, jug, simpulum and sprinkler; rare; SOLD


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Seleucia Ad Calycadnum, Cilicia

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Seleucia ad Calycadnum (Silifke in southern Turkey today) was founded by Seleucus I Nicator between 296 and 280 B.C. It remained independent until the creation of the Roman province of Cilicia in 72 A.D. Remains of the ancient city include its Corinthian temple, converted into a church in late antiquity, a large Early Byzantine cistern, and an extensive Roman and Christian necropolis
RP81225. Bronze AE 33, SNGvA 5841 (same dies); BMC Lycaonia p. 137, 39; cf. SNG Levante 772 (rev. leg.); SNG BnF 1024 (same); SNG PfPS -; SNG Hunterian -, aVF, well centered, nice green patina, scratch on obverse, weight 13.585 g, maximum diameter 32.9 mm, die axis 180o, Seleuceia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) mint, 241 - 244 A.D.; obverse ANTΩNIOC ΓOP∆IANOC CE/BAC (last three letters in second clockwise line in right field), laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; two countermarks; reverse CEΛEYKEΩ−N TΩ ΠPOETΩ − KAΛY−KA∆N/Ω (clockwise from lower left, ending in two clockwise lines in right field), Tyche of Seleucia seated left, turreted, right hand resting on summit of a small distyle shrine inscribed CVN/TEΛ/IAC in three lines, cornucopia in left hand; rare; SOLD


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The known 3rd specimen (one in the Klosterneuburg hoard, one in a French private collection and this one) all from the same reverse die.

Under Gordian III the same coin types were often struck at both Rome and Antioch. One way to distinguish Gordian's coins struck at Antioch from those struck at Rome is the shape of the letter M. On coins from Antioch, M usually resembles a V in the middle of two I's, thus IVI. From the Rome mint, M normally resembles two lambdas, thus ΛΛ.
RS80915. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV -, gVF, weight 4.426 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 239 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P II COS P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power for two years, consul, father of the country), Gordian, in military dress, standing left, raising right and holding spear in left; 3rd known; SOLD


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Tarsus, Cilicia

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Tarsus boasts A M K on the reverse of this coin, meaning First, Greatest, and Most Beautiful (ΠPΩTH MEΓIΣTH KAΛΛIΣTH).
RP80418. Bronze AE 37, SNG Levante 1137, SNG BnF 1657; BMC Lycaonia p. 218, 278, Choice aVF, weight 24.468 g, maximum diameter 36.6 mm, die axis 180o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, obverse AVTK MANT ΓOP∆IANO CEB, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, Π − Π in fields; reverse TAPCOVMH T POΠOΛEWC, Tyche standing facing, looking left, wearing kalathos, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, AMK left, ΓB right; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE LEGENDS

IMPCMANTGORDIANVSAVG
IMPCAESGORDIANVSPIVSAVG
IMPCAESMANTGORDIANVSAVG
IMPCAESMANTGORDIANVSPIVSAVG
IMPGORDIANVSPIVSFELAVG
IMPGORDIANVSPIVSFELIXAVG
MANTGORDIANVSCAES


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappťes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol IV: From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III: Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values III, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Monday, June 17, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Gordian III