Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Dynastic Provincial Issue of Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus and Caracalla (Magistrate Ovinus Tertullus)
Nikopolis ad Istrum, AE27, 12.07 gms, die axis 7h
AMNG -, Varbanov -, SNG Cop -, Lindgren -, Sear GIC -

Obv: [AV K L CEP CEVHPOC] P [AV K M AVPH ANTWNINOC]Septimius Severus and Caracalla facing

Who said uncleaned coins never yield anything interesting? One of the ugly but historically significant coins I found among a lot of large uncleaned coins. The dual bust obverse of Septimius Severus and Carcalla depicted on this example is a dynastic issue from Nikopolis in contrast to the more common denominational coinage found on other provincial dual bust issues.

The inscription in the wreath, EVTVXWC TOIC KVPIOIC, reads "Good luck to the emperors!", a reference to the elevation of Caracalla and Geta to Augustus and Caesar in 198 A.D. A similar issue with an obverse of Caracalla and Geta, see AMNG 1625, but with a different reverse die is known to exist.

Given Severus' fondness for portraying all members of his family on special issues, the existence of a dual bust obverse also featuring Severus and Julia Domna is expected. At present, no examples of that type are known to exist. This coin was originally thought to be that missing link, but a closer examination by two respected numismatists attributed the coin correctly as Septimius Severus and Carcalla.

As noted by one numismatist who assisted me with this mediallion: "These unique coins are special issues, celebrating the two augusti, the two sons-and-heirs, the augustus and the augusta. They aren't larger, and they aren't marked E (denominational mark). Septimius, one feels, may have thought it was the best year of his life."

A better example of this issue is shown on coinarchives.com:

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