Featured Coin

Mintmarked Flavian Denarii

This week the Featured Coin brought two family members. The illustration is a composite of three mintmarked denarii, actually all the same size, featuring a denarius of Titus Caesar in the center with his father Vespasian on the left and brother Domitian Caesar on the right. The Titus (RSC 56a, BMC V486, RIC V222 var.) was struck in 76 AD at a mint somewhere in Asia Minor which used the mintmark of a small annulet (inset) below the bust. The catalogs list this reverse as showing a heifer but this coin would seem to be a bull. The Vespasian (RSC 278, BMC 446, RIC 323) shows a very weak 'BY' ligate monogram of Byzantium at the bottom of the reverse just left of Victory's feet. The Domitian (RSC 38, BMC V470, RIC V348) has 'EPE' in the reverse exergue placing the mint at Ephesus.

Vespasian issued denarii from a series of branch mints (there are others not shown here) in the East. Some of these were in the names of his two sons who would later be emperors. Each of these mints could be distinguished by their style but most used some mark or initial. Although several emperors later issued denarii from branch mints the practice of mint marking was next used on the silver washed bronzes over 200 years later. One mint of Julia Domna is distinguished by a small annulet on the shoulder of the portrait and there were some 'secret mark' dots on some antoniniani of the middle of the third century AD. The idea of openly denoting the place of issue apparantly did not seem important during most of the Roman Empire. This Titus was part (lot 4126) of the famous Mabbott collection auctioned in 1969.

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1997 Doug Smith