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Old Oct 2, 2006, 02:40 PM   #1
Roma_Orbis
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Mystery Vespasian Dupondius OTD

I just received today this phenomenon, being afraid that this could be a Padouan or a fantasy coin; actually it is ancient, with original patina (though some areas have been cleaned a long time ago); I didn't see any obvious sign of tooling. It is a laureated (!) Dupondius for Vespasian, implying it was struck before early 71 AD (as Curtis C. remarked) when the radiate crown was reintroduced. Weight 13.0 gr.

Obv. IMP CAESAR AVG VESPASIAN Laureated head right
Rev. TIT ET DOMITIANVS CAESARE (!) Titus and Domitian galloping

The portrait is from the early style, similar to some Galba. I couldn't find any legend similar to this one, with AVG before the name. The reverse legend seems truncated, as if the legend's engraver realized too late he had no place to finish properly (CAESARES), with the letter E already too close to SC.

Does this type rings a bell of anyone

Jérôme
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File Type: jpg Dup Vespasien TIT ET DOMIT.jpg (72.0 KB, 90 views)

Last edited by Roma_Orbis : Oct 2, 2006 at 06:29 PM.
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 03:20 PM   #2
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Jérôme,

I'm sorry to say this, but the laurel wreath is clearly added by tooling, IMO, and the rest of the coin (look at those badly engraved horemen!) doesn't look any better to me.

Lars
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 03:33 PM   #3
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Lars,

I had this fear, but I can grant you (after examination under magnification) that:
- oxidation and patina are original,
- laurels are untouched,
- horsemen are of similar style as rev. T ET DOMITIAN CAESARES PRIN IVVENT, BN 469 and 470; irregularities on rev. are due to a stronger corrosion, and remains of some harsh cleaning

Jérôme
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 03:44 PM   #4
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To me, it also looks tooled, on several obv and reverse points, such as the laurel wreath, and a number of areas on the horsemen, and reverse legend. Specifically, the hind leg #3 on the horses appears to have tool marks on either side. The absence of comparable specimens would make this hard to confirm or refute, but color me a skeptic. I am further bothered by the green parts of the patina, they look artificially applied, like JAX.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 03:46 PM   #5
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From the pic, the laurel wreath looks tooled as do the horsemen. Look at the bridles, the toga, or the horse's and man's legs! Also, the green patination does look artificial to me. Sure, I only have the pic while you have it in hand, but the coin really looks wrong to me.

I'm even more sceptical as it is an unknown type.

Lars
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Last edited by Pscipio : Oct 2, 2006 at 04:04 PM.
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 03:57 PM   #6
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Mmmh you don't want to believe me ... here is a zoom of the portrait. Anyone who can create such a patina would be a semi-god ... I would hire him immediately
Yes on the rev., as I said, there are some traces of cleaning, which was a bit harsh in the intersections. This is no tooling (and I know very well what I'm talking about ...).

This type is not completely new, the legends are.

Jérôme
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File Type: jpg Dup Vespasien TIT ET DOMIT zoom.jpg (70.0 KB, 83 views)
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 06:25 PM   #7
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I agree with Jerome: the coin looks authentic and essentially untooled.

The obv. die is the same as that of a unique dupondius in Oxford, ex Prince Waldeck Collection, Münzhandlung Basel 3, 1935, 233 (pl. 9) and Ryan Coll. Part 5, Glendining 1952, 2738 (not ill.), with rev. EX S C OB CIV SER within oak wreath.

The obv. legend and portrait style are very close to a bare-headed middle-bronze obv. die, which has the extraordinary obv. legend IMP CAESAR AVG VIISPAS.SIAN. II is an attested odd form of E, but S.S is simply an error! The die is official, however; rev. types CONCORD AVG S C, Concordia seated l. before altar and PROVID S C, altar enclosure.

The sestertii that go with these middle bronzes have legend IMP CAES AVG VESPAS COS II TR POT, with reverses T ET DOM C EX S C, the two Caesars seated; PAX AVGVSTI S C, Pax standing; S C, Victory inscribing shield set on palm, captive seated below; and FORTVNAE REDVCI S C, Fortuna Redux standing.

These coins are all illustrated and discussed by Kraay, The bronze coinage of Vespasian, Essays...Sutherland, Spink (London), 1978. They are Vespasian's first issue of bronze coins at Rome, in 70 AD, all very rare. Kraay would have been delighted to see this new type, and we must be sure that it gets into the new RIC!

Do you think Domitian, who was alone in Rome in 70 while Vesp. and Titus were still in the East, maybe had a hand in designing this rev. die? Only his name gets written out in full, DOMITIANVS, while Titus gets chopped to TIT and the S left off CAESARE!

Last edited by curtislclay : Oct 2, 2006 at 08:24 PM.
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Old Oct 2, 2006, 07:26 PM   #8
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And this coin was sold on eBay US, correctly advertized! Was I almost the only one to notice the extraordinary features (typical first style portrait, type, legends, ...)? Maybe many thought like Lars, that it was completely tooled? It went for $356.

Curtis, your suggestion about chopping Titus name to keep the whole Domitian name is stunning! Still for CAESARE, one can clearly see the lack of balance in the lettering, the space to use being miscalculated by the legend engraver (I always remember the theory that the portrait/scene and the legend could have been performed by 2 different engravers, the less skilled engravers taking care of the legends only). The engraver seems blocked by the lack of space, but forcing to put at least the last E.

I can provide a better pict. if necessary.

Jérôme
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Old Oct 3, 2006, 01:23 AM   #9
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Hi Jerome,

I'd certainly love to see some detailed pictures - what an interesting specimen. A bargain at that price. Glad to hear Curtis thinks it's untooled! Evidently it is the patina and the lighting and the cleaning scratches, as you say, that threw me off.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old Oct 3, 2006, 02:47 AM   #10
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Yes, please, some better pics would be nice. I'm glad for you, Jérôme, that Curtis thinks it is not tooled!

Lars
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Old Oct 3, 2006, 06:24 AM   #11
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Congratulations on getting this coin... it is absolutely beautiful!
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Old Oct 3, 2006, 02:32 PM   #12
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Getting a Rome 1st emission for Vespasian is a true challenge!

Here is a bigger picture. One can see that the central scene on reverse was too much cleaned, as well as some bases of letters of the legend.

Curtis, for the RIC draft:
Axis: 6 o'clock (rev. is upside down from obv.)
Weight: 13.00 +-0.05 gr. (precision of my scale)

Jérôme
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File Type: jpg Dup Vespasien TIT ET DOMIT large.jpg (99.0 KB, 68 views)
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Old Oct 5, 2006, 12:45 AM   #13
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Jerome's coin is convincing enough by itself to an experienced eye, but the die link to the Oxford coin, shown below, seals the deal.

The obv. die of the two coins is the same, and one can see that Jerome's obverse has suffered only very minor tooling: the letters of the legend have been made a bit thicker and squarer than on an untouched strike from the die, and the hair behind the ear and below the wreath has apparently been re-engraved.

The rev., at first glance, looks tooled, and it may indeed be that the bridle and some details of the riders' clothes and heads have been enhanced or added. But the outlines of the horses, their heads and legs, the folds of the flying cloaks, and every letter of the legend look original and virtually untouched. It seems out of the question that this type and legend could have been entirely invented by the tooler, replacing a different original type and legend: there are no signs of such a drastic transformation. And what could have induced the tooler to ruin the coin by such re-engraving, when the obverse shows that he had before him a very fine coin whose original types could be quite successfully cleaned? If he wanted to add value, why not leave the rev. intact and alter the obv. to say Vitellius?

Ian Carradice reports to me that he already knew a coin of these types, quite possibly the identical specimen though unfortunately he doesn't have an image, from among the plaster casts assembled by Colin Kraay in Oxford. Ian too had thought the reverse was remade and he intended to simply mention the coin in a footnote in the new RIC. I am hoping to be able to convince him that that would be an error: the coin is quite authentic and should be both described as such in the text, and illustrated in the plates!

Last edited by curtislclay : Oct 9, 2006 at 12:19 AM.
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Old Oct 5, 2006, 12:54 AM   #14
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Here, I hope, is the image, again made by Susan Headley.
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Old Oct 5, 2006, 02:00 AM   #15
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So, after all, the type is genuine but it is partially tooled nontheless. It were the clothes of the riders plus the bridles that concerned me most. On the laurel wreath, it may have been the cleaning that lead me to assume that it is tooled: the wreath seems to have been scraped off partially, as shown by the differences to the pic provided by Curtis, and the yellow spots to both sides of the wreath, on the hair and the ear. Maybe it has been enhanced, afterwards, where it has been cleaned to harshly.

Apparently, we were wrong assuming that the coin should be neglected, but from those pics alone, I confess that I'd have stayed away from it.

Lars
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