Among the most popular choices for collectors who select a single Emperor as a speciality is Hadrian. Ruling from 117 to 138 AD, Hadrian was the adopted son of Trajan and continued the adoptive line by selecting Antoninus Pius as his successor. Coins of Hadrian are especially varied with a 'complete' collection numbering well over 2000 items. I will show a few samples of his coins that might be considered representative of the thousands not shown.
|Hadrian Denarius - 119-122 AD - Rome mint
PM TRP COS III galley
| Hadrian Denarius - 134-138 AD - Rome mint
HADRIANVS AVG COS III PP
ALEXANDRIA standing figure
Trajan had been particularly noted for using long legends. As noted above, the earliest legends of Hadrian tended to continue this practice. As a general rule, most Roman emperors used longer legends near the beginning of their reigns and shorter legends later when more people were familiar with the ruler. A good example of this is the denarius of 117 AD (below left). Later coins of Hadrian tended to shorted the legends and were rarely dated specifically enough to allow easy placement of each item. Oddly, although Hadrian accepted his last consulship in 119 AD, it is the COS III device that most frequently appears in his legends over the next two decades. Portraits are shown as plain heads facing both right and left and busts with different degrees of ornamentation. Types are wonderfully various so I'll show (below right) a personal favorite: the representation of Romulus, the founder of Rome.
|Denarius - 117 AD - Rome mint
Heroic bust / Pietas
IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIAN
OPT AVG GER DAC
PIETAS - PARTHICO DIVI TRAIAN
AVG F PM TRP COS PP
|Denarius - 134-138 AD - Rome mint
Head left / Romulus the Founder
HADRIANVS AVG COS III PP
|Orichalcum dupondius - 119-121 AD - Rome
Radiate bust / Salus
IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG PM TRP COS III
SALVS PVBLICA SC
|Orichalcum dupondius - 125-128 AD - Rome
Radiate head / Fides
COS III SC
Bronze denominations follow a parallel path with earlier examples using longer legends mentioning the family connection to Trajan and later ones showing the shorter legends. While both of my examples are brass dupondii, there are also brass sestertii and copper asses in profusion. More scarce are smaller bronze denominations semises, quadrantes and the very unusual and tiny unciae.
It is obvious that Hadrian is not a specialty of mine but I hope some of you will find this page interesting enough to look for more information on this interesting reign.
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(c) 1998 Doug Smith