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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Quality ▸ Masterpiece PortraitsView Options:  |  |  |   

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits

A superb portrait 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. In addition to portraits of the finest style, on this page we include rarer bust types and portraits that we find attractive or sometimes just interesting.


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

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Nero considered himself an artist, perhaps he was and took an interest in his coinage - the sestertii of Nero are considered by many to be the finest numismatic art of the Roman Empire.
RB84073. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 443 (S), Mac Dowall WCN 428, Giard Lyon 119, BnF II 83, Cohen I 262, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SGCV I -, VF, fine style, excellent portrait, attractive brown toning, obverse slightly off center, some light corrosion, weight 25.990 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of neck; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass and shields, wearing helmet and military garb, Victory in offering wreath in her right hand, her left hand resting on parazonium at side, right foot drawn back and resting on helmet, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field at center, ROMA in exergue; $1170.00 (1041.30)


Macrinus, 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D.

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Securitas stands perfectly at her ease, with legs crossed and leaning on a column, clearly relaxed, having nothing to fear. Macrinus was praised for restoring security by eliminating the fratricidal son of Severus, long feared as the most cruel tyrant of Rome, beloved only by a venal soldiery, whom his largesses had enriched.
SH77277. Silver denarius, RIC IV 92b, BMCRE V 80, RSC III 122c corr. (Antioch), Hunter III 32 var. (draped, no cuirass), SRCV II 7365, Choice EF, nearly as struck, light tone on luster, superb portrait, well centered, small edge cracks, weight 3.140 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, obverse IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse SECVRITAS TEMPORVM (time of security), Securitas standing facing, head left, scepter in right hand, left leg crossed in front of right, leaning with left forearm on column; $500.00 (445.00)


Constantine II, 22 May 337 - March or April 340 A.D.

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This type is apparently unpublished and this is the only example of the type known to Forum. This reverse was used for very rare (both R5) issues of Licinius I and Licinius II Caesar. CNG e-auction 368, lot 496, is Constantine II with this same reverse, also 5th officina, but with Constantine II on the obverse left holding a Victory on globe and mappa.
RL76392. Billon centenionalis, apparently unpublished, cf. RIC VII Siscia 116 - 117 (for obv. type) and 138 - 139 (for rev. type, issues of the Licinii), EF, excellent portrait, both sides slightly off-center, left side of reverse legend weak, some porosity, a few light marks, weight 2.773 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, 5th officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, as caesar, 320 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C, laureate and cuirassed bust left; reverse VIRTVS EXERCIT (courage of the army), vexillum inscribed VOT / XX in two lines, two seated barbarian captives back-to-back flanking base, Christogram (Chi-Rho monogram) left, ESIS star in exergue; ex Scott Collection; extremely rare; $270.00 (240.30)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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In 278, Probus defeated the Alamanni, expelled the Franks from Gaul, reorganized the defenses on the Rhine, resettled the Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the Roman Empire, and adopted the titles of Gothicus Maximus and Germanicus Maximus.
RA76279. Silvered antoninianus, Pink VI-1, p. 63; RIC, part 2, V 376 (S) var. (cuirass); Cohen VI 283 var. (same); Hunter IV 131 var. (same, and obv legend); SRCV III 11984 (same), Choice aEF, some mint luster, most silvering remains, fantastic heroic bust, light corrosion, weight 3.341 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, 5th officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 4 emission, 278 A.D.; obverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), radiate bust left from behind, spear left in right hand, back bare but for balteus over right shoulder and rectangular Aegis shield with square corner in on left shoulder; reverse HERCVLI PACIF (to Hercules the pacifier), Hercules standing left, raising branch in extended right, club and Nemean Lion skin in left, VXXT in exergue; very rare; $260.00 (231.40)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Venus in her aspect as the divine ancestress of the Roman people was known as Venus Genetrix. According to legend, and as recorded in Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneis was the son of Venus who fled Troy after its destruction and founded the city of Rome. Julius Caesar, being of the Gens Julia, claimed direct descent from Venus Genetrix and Aeneas. Julius Caesar built a Temple of Venus Genetrix in his new forum. Most depictions of Venus Genetrix on Roman coinage are of the statue in the Forum, and do not directly refer to pregnancy or fertility.
RS79617. Silver denarius, RIC IV C388c, RSC III 212, Hunter III 13, BMCRE V C25, SRCV II 7106, Choice EF, fantastic portrait, mint luster, tiny green spots of encrustation, weight 3.246 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, reign of Caracalla, 216 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right; reverse VENVS GENETRIX (Mother Venus), Venus enthroned left, extending right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; $225.00 (200.25)


Diadumenian, Mid May - 8 June 218 A.D., Deultum, Thrace

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Artemis is depicted here in the same pose as The Diana of Versailles, a slightly over life-size Roman marble statue from the 1st or 2nd century A.D., copying a lost Greek bronze original attributed to Leochares, c. 325 B.C. The sculpture has a stag at her side. The sculpture may have come from a sanctuary at Nemi or possibly from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli. In 1556, it was given by Pope Paul IV to Henry II of France, a subtle allusion to the king's mistress, Diane de Poitiers. It is now in the Muse du Louvre, Paris.
RP79982. Bronze AE 25, Jurukova Deultum 80, SNG Deultum 162, Draganov Deultum 162 (O28/R284), Varbanov I 2169 (R4) corr. (running left), Moushmov 3573, SNG Cop -, VF, excellent portrait, well centered, nice sea green patina, light marks and scratches, areas of light corrosion, weight 9.948 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 180o, Deultum (Debelt, Bulgaria) mint, obverse C M OPEL ANTONINVS DIADV, bare-headed, draped bust right, from behind; reverse COL FL PA C DEVLT, Artemis (Diana) advancing right, drawing arrow from quiver with right hand, bow in left hand, dog bounding right at feet on far side; ex Apollo Numismatics ($125, summer 2008); rare; $165.00 (146.85)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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In Roman mythology, Aequitas was the minor goddess of fair trade and honest merchants. Aequitas was also the personification of the virtues equity and fairness of the emperor (Aequitas Augusti). The scales, a natural emblem of equity, express righteousness. The cornucopia signifies the prosperity which results from Aequitas and Aequitas Augusti.
RS83526. Silver denarius, RIC IV 274; RSC III 11; BMCRE VI p. 215, 1033; SRCV 7856; Hunter III -, Choice VF, excellent portrait, well centered, coppery areas, small edge cracks, weight 2.967 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 222 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse AEQVITAS AVG (equity of the emperor), Aequitas standing slightly left, head left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, star upper left; $160.00 (142.40)


Maximinus I Thrax, 20 March 235 - Late May 238 A.D., Thessalonica, Macedonia

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The god Kabeiros is similar in appearance to Dionysos and the rites of his cult were likely similar to those of the Dionysian mysteries. The attributes of Kabeiros are a rhyton and hammer.
RP83454. Bronze AE 24, SNG ANS 875 corr. (obv. leg.); Varbanov 4500 (R4) var. (obv. leg.); BMC Macedonia p. 123, 112 var. (same), VF, fantastic portrait, centered on a tight flan, flatly struck centers, light marks, centration dimple on reverse, weight 12.268 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, 20 Mar 235 - Late May 238 A.D.; obverse AVT K Γ IOVΛ OVHP MAΞIMINOC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse ΘECCAΛONIKEΩN, Nike flying left, she hold Kabeiros standing left holding rhyton and hammer in her right hand, palm frond in her left hand; scarce obv. legend variety; $135.00 (120.15)


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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This coin is dedicated to the goddess Fides for her good quality of preserving the public peace by keeping the army true to its allegiance.
RB90829. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 171a, Cohen V 51, gVF, Tiber patina, superb portrait, grainy, edge cracks, tight flan, edge clip at 12:00 (pre-strike to adjust flan weight?), weight 13.589 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 244 - 249 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse FIDES EXERCITVS (the loyalty of the army), four legionary standards, second from left signum militaria with hand on top, third an aquila, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $130.00 (115.70)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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In 233, Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory" the previous year over the Persians. He was forced to leave for the Rhine frontier, where the Alamanni had invaded Swabia. German tribes destroyed Roman forts and plundered the countryside at the Limes Germanicus.
RB71744. Bronze as, SRCV II 8091, RIC IV 543, BMCRE VI 966, Cohen IV 455, Choice aVF, excellent portrait and centering, Sol's head flatly struck, weight 10.435 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse P M TR P XIIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left, S - C across fields; $125.00 (111.25)




  



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Masterpiece Portraits