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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.


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

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This is the rarest Otho denarius type and one of the rarest 1st century Roman denarii. Only two museums, Paris and ANS, hold examples. A further specimen was found in archeological context in Denmark in 1990s. Besides these, four additional specimens are known. This coin has the best portrait and is clearly the most attractive of the seven known. Jyrki Muona obtained it in 2002 at the NYINC from Glenn Woods.

Otho minted three separate issues. The first and second issues followed Galba's standard of 90% silver. Otho's third issue was debased to 80% silver. All coins of the third issue share the reverse legend PONT MAX, perhaps to make it easy to distinguish the debased coins. One might think our rare coin is a reverse legend error for Otho's third issue, PONT MAX Ceres type. However, as Butcher et al. have shown, this is not the case. If CERES AVG was a simple reverse legend error, the flan would be 80% silver. This CERES AVG type was struck in a second issue of 90% silver flans, probably during planning for the third issue, and perhaps only for testing. The type was apparently not distributed, and was withdrawn, and melted when it was decided to debase the coinage and use the PONT MAX legend. It appears a small number were released, most likely by mistake.
RS85563. Silver denarius, Muona Otho 10b; Butcher-Ponting-Muona 6; ANSCD 1958.217.1; BnF III 1; RIC I 1 (R3, 7 spec. known, all minted with the same die-pair), Nice VF, the best portrait and most attractive of the seven known specimens, light rose toning, a few light marks and spots of porosity, weight 3.272 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TRP, bare head right; reverse CERES AVG, Ceres standing left, grain-ears raised in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; rarest Otho denarius type; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Glenn Woods (NYINC, 2002); $5000.00 (4450.00)


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; $450.00 (400.50)


Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, 139 A.D.

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In 139, Marcus Aurelius was betrothed to Antoninus Pius' daughter Faustina the Younger and was made Caesar. In 140, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar were the two Roman Consuls. This was the third consulship for Antoninus Pius and the first consulship for Marcus Aurelius. The reverse legend indicates that Marcus had already been selected for his first consulship but that it had not yet begun - dating the coin to December 139 A.D.
RS84670. Silver denarius, RIC III 411b (S); RSC II p. 190, 4; BMCRE IV 126; Strack III 65, SRCV II 4522, Choice VF, toned, superb portrait of young Marcus, some scratches, edge cracks, weight 3.006 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 27 Oct - 31 Dec 139 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P, laureate and bearded head of Antoninus Pius right; reverse AVRELIVS CAES AVG PII F COS DES, young beardless head of Marcus Aurelius Caesar left; scarce; $400.00 (356.00)


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; $240.00 (213.60)


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; $235.00 (209.15)


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; $200.00 (178.00)


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; $150.00 (133.50)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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In 200 A.D. Septimius Severus visited the provinces of Syria, Palestine, and Arabia. Palestine, benefiting from the benevolent policies of Severus, had a significant economic revival.
RS85000. Silver denarius, RIC IV 30a; RSC III 413; BMCRE V p. 190, 179; Hunter III p. 51, 9; SRCV II 6857, Choice gVF, fine style, superb boy portrait, full circle centering on a broad flan, light toning, small edge cracks, weight 3.555 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 200 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVGVSTVS, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse PONTIF TR P III (priest, tribune of the people for 3 years), Caracalla (as Sol) standing facing, head left, nude but for chlamys over shoulders, globe in right hand, leaning on reversed spear in left, not radiate; $150.00 (133.50)


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D.

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In Roman religion, every man has a genius, a presiding spirit. In De Die Natali, Censorinus says, from the moment we are born, we live under the guard and tutelage of Genius. Cities, organizations, and peoples also had a genius. On coins, we find inscriptions to the Genius of the Roman people, of the Senate, of the Emperor, etc.
RS85551. Silver denarius, RIC IV 59(a); RSC III 114; BMCRE V p. 274, 579; Hunter III 24; SRCV II 7187, Choice gVF, excellent portrait, perfect centering, well struck, tiny edge cracks, slightly frosty, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 208 A.D.; obverse P SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES, bearded, draped bust right, from behind; reverse PONTIF COS II (priest, consul for the 2nd time), Genius standing left, nude, sacrificing from patera in right hand over flaming altar, ears of grain downward in left hand; $150.00 (133.50)


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D.

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In late December 211, Geta was lured to come without his bodyguards to meet Caracalla, to discuss a possible reconciliation. When he arrived at their mother's house, the Praetorian Guard murdered him and he died in the arms of his mother Julia Domna.
RS85553. Silver denarius, Hunter III 56 (same obv. leg. break), RIC IV 81, RSC III 200, SRCV II 7252, BMCRE V - (noted p. 422), VF, excellent portrait, broad flan, well struck full circle reverse, small edge cracks, weight 3.589 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 211 A.D.; obverse P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse TR P III COS II P P, Providentia (or Aeternitas?) standing slightly right, head left, short torch in extended right hand, globe in extended left hand; scarce; $150.00 (133.50)




  



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Masterpiece Portraits