Sunday, March 2, 2008

Myth - Special Marriage Denarii of Gordian III

RIC 127 RIC 129 RIC 129A RIC 130 RIC 131

In 1894, Otto Voetter published, Die römischen Münzen des Kaisers Gordianus III und deren antiken Fälschungen (The Roman coins of the emperor Gordianus and their contemporary forgeries). In his study he suggested that a series of six denarii were minted in 241 AD to commemorate the marriage of Gordian III to Furia Sabinia Tranquillina and that those included the 5 examples above plus the example of FELICITAS PVBLICA, now known as RIC 128.

In probably the 1930s, Dr. Karl Pink disputed the existence of the FELICITAS PVBLICA issue, regarding the the Kolb specimen, quoted by Cohen 79, as false leaving only 5 verifiable isssues of denarii for the so-called special marriage issue.

Fast forward to 1949 and the issuance of, The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. IV, Part III, Gordian III-Uranius Antoninus. Mattingly accepted Voetter's suggestion that these undated denarii were part of a special marriage issue despite the presence of only 5 verified reverses, where six would be expected.

One day a few years ago, I responded to a posting on one of the groups commenting on a denarius that was associated with the "special marriage issue" which evoked a response by a noted numismatist which read, in part: " Gordian's two issues of common denarii were struck in 240, so can have had nothing to do with his marriage to Tranquillina in the FOLLOWING year, 241! RIC 127 adn 129-131, misattributed there to 241, actually go with the TR P III Horseman denarius, RIC 81, so belong in 240. RIC 128 does not exist, so this issue of 240, as expected, contains exactly six reverse types, each struck in similar volume. I the Eauze Hoard, for example, the six types were represented by 26, 22, 29, 32, 26 and 30 spec. respectively. The mistaken association of the undated denarii in this issue with the marriage to Tranquillina, a suggestion of Voetter's that Mattingly accepted in RIC, was corrected by Ken Elks in his booklet on the coinage of Gordian in the 1970s, and in Num. Chron. 1971, 99309-10. the correct dating of the issue is also given in the Eauze Hoard report, p. 163 and p. 244, note 78, though p. 245 by a slip still gives the wrong date 241."

RIC 81 RIC 127 RIC 129 RIC 129A RIC 130 RIC 131

So when viewed with the correct six reverse types associated with this issue, it becomes more apparent these issues were in fact minted in 240 AD, not 241 AD, a year in advance of Gordian III's marriage to Tranquillina.

I had the pleasure of being able to correspond with Ken Elks who graciously sent me copies of one of his booklets on the financial collapse of the Roman currency of and the 1971 Num. Chron. article. He also suggested his belief that there was a third mint issuing antoniniani and those ants with the ugly portraits are likely candidates for attributing to a third mint.

No comments: