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Two Unlisted Caligula Denarii

The Germanicus and The S • P• Q • R •P P. OB • C • S • Reverses

And The Under Appreciated Dates of TRP IIII 41 A.D.

by Joe Geranio

I have been known to get emotional on collecting Julio Claudian coins, especially Caligula denarii and precious metals.1 The fact that Caligula 's coinage is rare and that his reign was so brief from 37-41 A.D. and the other fact that he began to basically rule the then known world at 25 years of age, well it is quite astonishing! Then to narrow it down to the last 24 days of his rule and the fact that you could actually hold such a specific Julio Claudian/ Roman time span!! Well you can see why I get emotional about it. I believe as far as dealers go, I never understood why his TRP IIII dated precious metal coins on his denarii and (TRP III) on Aurei do not get at least a 30% jump in price. Be that as it may, I always look on his AE 's and other coinage by date first. (make sure you read my 1 end note on the TRP IIII AR that got away). I am only focusing on these two denarii of Caligula with the TRP IIII date that are unlisted? There are two others: RIC 30 Agrippina reverse and RIC 31 Divus Augustus Reverse.

RIC 30

AR Denarius (3.71 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck 41 AD. C CAESAR AVG PONT TR POT IIII COS IIII, Laureate head of Gaius right / AGRIPPINA MAT C CAES AVG GERM, Radiate head of Augustus right; no stars. C 7. BMC p. 150 note †. RIC 30. BnF –. (Image courtesy Numismatica Ars Classica)

RIC 31

AR Denarius (3.71 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck 41 AD. C CAESAR AVG PONT TR POT IIII COS IIII, Laureate head of Gaius right / DIVVS AVG PATER PATRIAE, Radiate head of Augustus right; no stars. RIC I 31; BMCRE -; RSC 8. (Image courtesy CNG)

Description of Caligula Denarius with Germanicus Reverse - CNG

Gaius (Caligula), with Germanicus. AD 37-41. AR Denarius (3.46 g, 6h). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. Struck January AD 41. C CAESAR AVG PONT TR POT IIII COS IIII, Laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) right / Bare head of Germanicus right. RIC I 30/26 (for obv./rev. type); Lyon 185/181 (for obv./rev. type); RSC -. Extremely rare last issue.

From the Gordon S. Parry Collection. Ex Ponterio 47 (8 March 1991), lot 1450.

Caligula became consul for the fourth time on 1 January AD 41 and was killed on 24 January. Only a handful of coins can be dated to his final days.

Caligula and Germanicus. 37-41 AD. Denarius, Lugdunum, 41 AD. Obv: C CAESAR AVG GERM PON M TR POT IIII COS IIII Laureate head of Caligula right. Rx: GERMANICVS CAES P C CAES AVG GERM Bare head of Germanicus right. Reverse type apparently unlisted for this issue extremely rare denarius of Caligula 's fourth consulship, which only lasted from 1 January 41 until his assassination on 24 January, and with a new reverse type for the issue. Giard, Lyon (1983), p. 145, knew no aurei of Caligula at all dated COS IIII, and only four denarii, one in Oxford with reverse Divus Augustus, two in Vienna and Mazzini with reverse Agrippina I, and one in a Bourgey sale of 1913 with reverse SPQR P P OB C S in oak wreath. BM 32 may be a second denarius with this last reverse type, but the reading of the dates in the obverse legend requires confirmation. Our Germanicus reverse type, previously unknown, thus completes the expected set of four denarius reverse types for Caligula 's final issue of January 41. The obverse die of our denarius appears to be different from those of BM 32 and the four coins reported by Giard. 

Description of Caligula Denarius with S.P.Q.R./PP/OB.C.S. in Three Lines Within Oak Wreath.

Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. AR Denarius (3.62 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck January AD 41. C CAESAR • AVG • PON • M • TR • POT IIII COS • IIII, laureate head right / S • P• Q • R •/P P/OB • C • S • in three lines within oak wreath. RIC I -; RIC I (1st ed.) 7 = BMCRE 32 = RSC 23a. VF, lightly toned, scattered marks, minor porosity. Extremely rare final issue, the third known.
Ex Triton IX (10 January 2006), lot 1392.

Although the first of these three rare coins, the British Museum piece, was cataloged in the first edition of RIC I, it was left out of the revised edition. In that edition, Giard notes (p. 110, note *) that the BM piece was a misreading of TR POT III COS III. In fact, the first edition was correct, the piece was not misdescribed. The second known example of this type was sold as lot 56 in the Bourgey sale of 17 December 1913. Ironically, Bourgey misdescribed that coin as TR POT III COS III.  4 end note.

After all these photos of Caligula 's late TRP IIII issues on his denarii, was there a change in Caligula 's profile portraiture? Here is part of Fred Kleiner 's review on D. Boschung 's exhaustive work on Caligula 's portraiture which includes numismatics. Here are a few of von Kaenel 's thoughts on die engraving  during the Julio Claudian period.  

A Portion of a Review- F. Kleiner, 1992, on D. Boschung 's "Die Bildnisse des Caligula ' (1989 Gerbruder Mann) This portion on Mirror Imagery and How? 6

Roman Imperial Portraiture

The portraits of the Julio Claudian emperors and their families present special problems because so many of the Julio Claudians look alike in their official likenesses, that is, if perhaps not in life "Bildnisangleichung" was sought for all members of the ruling dynasty and Julio Claudian portraits have such an intentionally look that the isolation and identification of individual portrait types is at times exceedingly difficult.  The problems are even more acute in the case of those like Caligula whose portraits were often recut after their deaths to approximate the appearance of their successors or, in some instances, of their divine predecessors.  In the absence of surviving statues with surviving bases naming the persons portrayed, scholars have for centuries turned to coins for labeled portraits of Roman nobles.  Thus it is no surprise that numismatic evidence has always played a huge role in the study of Roman portraiture.   The evidence provided by coins has, however, frequently been used uncritically by archaeologists and art historians.  All too often publishing Roman portraits examine and illustrate as comparanda, only a few randomly selected pieces, most often those reproduced on the plates of the British Museum 's multi-volume-catalogue or specimens readily available to them in local collections, whether they be comprehensive cabinets like those in London, New York, Paris, etc. or the small study collections in the possession of some university museum.   Reliance on a sample can easily lead the art historian astray.  The coin portraits need to be subjected on their own "Replikenrezension" and to achieve this a die study is required.  Only the earliest dies in a given series are likely to be faithful reproductions of the official (three dimensional) model provided to the mint.  All subsequent dies will be copies, occasionally with pronounced variations, of the profile portraits engraved on the first dies.  For use in sophisticated modern studies of imperial portraiture, only coins struck from the earliest dies in each series will suffice.  The present editors of the Romische Herrsherbild Series are cognizant of this and hope wherever possible to enlist numismatists and collaborators, although they anticipate that qualified scholars will not always be available.  In the case of Caligula 's portraits, Boschung was fortunate in having von Kaenel as his partner.  The latter is the author of "Munzpragung und Munzbildnis des Claudius",    AMuGS9 (Berlin 1986) as well as an article on Caligula 's coinage, "Die Organisation der Caligula 's" RSN 66 (1987), pp. 135-56, written at the same time as his Romische Herrsherbild text.  Von Kaenel 's chapter in Die Bildnisse des Caligula (pp.13-26) treats the official coinage ("Reichspragung") exclusively.  Other coins bearing portraits of Caligula (Provinzial-und Lokalpragung") are not examined.  They are, in the opinion of von Kaenel (and I concur), more valuable as documents of the "Rezeption" of imperial imagery in the provinces then as a means of defining the official portrait types themselves (p.16) Gold, silver and aes coinage are, however, all studied.    

The portraits of Caligula on the aurei and denarii are all in right profile; those on sestertii, dupondii and asses are all in left profile. Von Kaenel concludes that all of the imperial issues reproduce a single official portrait type and that what variations exist are of a stylistic and not of a typological nature.  Furthermore, since the two profile views are not mirror images, von Kaenel suggests that they faithfully reproduce the left and right side respectively of a single model in the round and he believes that the comparison with marble replica 's of Boschung 's "Haupttypus" confirm that the same master "Vorbild" lies behind both the sculptured and numismatic replicas.  According to von Kaenel, the Roman die engravers were provided with either a single head in the round to serve as a model for their miniature profile portraits or with two separate relief portraits corresponding to the left and right sides of a sculptured head of Caligula 's "Haupttypus"  This is an important observation and it would be interesting to know if it is typical of Roman numismatic portraiture for left and right facing portraits of the same person to be rendered differently or whether or whether the coinage of Caligula is exceptional in not employing mirror images.    Whatever the answer is to the larger question, Caligula 's coins unfortunately cannot be cited as incontrovertible evidence that the Roman die engravers had models in the round from which some copied the left profile and others the right profile.  Von Kaenel assumes that the coins he has collected and analyzed are almost exclusively product of the imperial mint at Rome, but there is growing consensus that while Caligula 's aes issues were struck in the capital, the bulk if not all of his old an silver coinage was produced at Lugdunum (Lyons).     (see W.E. Metcalf, "Rome and Lugdunum Again, "AJN" 1 (1989), pp. 51-70).  The fact that Caligula 's left and right profiles portraits on coins are different might mean that both mints worked from portrait models of the same type- the selection of one profile or the other could then be kind of a mint signature- but it could also indicate that one portrait was copied in the capital and another one in Gaul.  I therefore cannot agree with von Kaenel when he states that the identification of Caligula 's precious-metal mint has little significance for the analysis of the emperor 's portraits on coins.  F. Kleiner- Review AJN, 1992.     

Joe Geranio

Julio Claudian Iconographic Association


1. See my emotional bidding notes on FAC Discussion board @ https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Caligulas%20Denarii%20from%2041%20A.D.-%20%20C%20CAESAR%20%95%20AVG%20%95%20PON%20%95%20M%20%95%20TR%20%95%20POT%20IIII%20COS%20%95%20IIII-%20%20Joe%20Geranio

2. See at Gemini 's web page. http://www.acsearch.info/search.html?term=CALIGULA+&category=1&en=1&de=1&fr=1&it=1&es=1&ot=1&images=1¤cy=usd&order=0&company=

3. See mainly on Caligula 's Portraiture: Geranio, Joe- Portraits of Caligula: The Seated Figure? Vol. XX No. 1 (1997) SAN -Society of Ancient Numismatics.

4. On unlisted 2 issues written on above see: http://www.ancientcoins.ca/RIC/

5. I am now researching to see if Caligula 's Portraiture in the area of the hair changed on these precious metals on TRP IIII issues? On Caligula 's Vesta aes, I have an article under my name showing I believe a variant in the Hair seeming to be balding on TRP IIII issues of the Vesta aes? Search in Numiswiki: Joe Geranio and Could Have Caligula been Balding on His Vesta aes?

6. In general, see a part of Kleiner 's Review on the book, "Die Bildnisse des Caligula" D. Boschung (1989) Gerbruder Mann Press.

7. Caligula Denarius on PAWN STAR TV SHOW video of TRP IIII, with D. Vagi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEOtjnP2hlQ

AR denarius -
GAIUS (CALIGULA). 37-41 AD. AR Denarius (3.62 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck January 41 AD. C CAESAR AVG PON M TR POT IIII COS IIII, laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) right / S P Q R/P P/OB C S in three lines within oak wreath. RIC I -; RIC I (1st ed.) 7 = BMCRE 32 = RSC 23a; Lyon -; BN -; Cohen -. (Image courtesy CNG)
AR denarius
Gaius (Caligula), with GermanicusAD 37-41. AR Denarius (3.46 g, 6h). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. Struck January AD 41. C CAESAR AVG PONT TR POT IIII COS IIII, Laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) right / GERMANICVS CAES P C CAES AVG GERM, Bare head of Germanicus right. RIC I 30/26 (for obv./rev. type); Lyon 185/181 (for obv./rev. type); RSC -. (Image courtesy CNG)



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