This Journal Entry provides an overview/update on Page 10 of my “Roman Empire” NGC Ancients custom (I previously have presented an overview/update on the first nine pages). Like all the Pages of the collection, this one comprises 15 coins as presented in “Gallery Mode”. The title for this Page, since it is third Page covering the Crisis of the Third Century is Crisis III. The purpose of this overview/update is to not just to provide a brief description of each coin, but also some perspective on what it means to me (if you want to read more details, please read my Owner’s Comments). This Page is complete!
1. Gordian III denarius, graded MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5. Gordian III is remembered by history as a good-natured, youthful Emperor who met a tragic fate (you might have guess it, murdered by his troops). This coin is valued to me, even though it is very common, since it is one of the very first Roman imperial coins I purchased (as such, I have not “upgraded” even though I could readily do so). This coin was purchase already in an NGC slab, and at the time I wondered at the chance to obtain such an old coin in mint conditions (of course, since then I have acquired many other ancient Roman coins that earned similar, or even higher grades).
2. An ancient bronze featuring the obverse charming confronted busts of Gordian III and Tranquillina. The reverse features Apollo, who was a rather interesting god. This coin was struck in Mesembria, Trace, and is a relatively common and popular design. This is case where I purchase anther specimen, but kept this one, which earned a higher grade (XF, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5). It is really tough to find ancient bronze coins in XF or higher grade since copper is a much more reactive metal compared to either silver or gold.
3. This very rare ancient bronze featuring Divus Julius Marinus, father of Emperor Philip the Arab. I added this “slot” and coin into the collection recently, since I found it interesting, particular for the blending of Roman, Greek, and Arabian elements on the coin. This one graded F, Strike 4/5, Surface 3/5, which is not particular impressive, but still very respectable for a bronze, especially such a rare one.
4. A fabulous Ch MS denarius, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5, representing Emperor Philip the Arab (you have to love it when your coin come back from grading as a Ch MS and 5 by 5!). Before Philips demise (which was probably at the hands of his own troops), he was best known for host Rome biggest party ever…
5. Rome 1000th birthday celebration denarius, this one graded a mind-boggling Gem MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5 (I purchased this one already graded). Please see my Owner’s Comments for more details regarding the impressive event. I also love this coin for its reverse featuring seated goddess Roma, with the inscription ROMA AETERNAE, a befitting message considering the coin’s amazing condition, nearly flawless with flashy, bright, semi-prooflike fields. How it survived in such pristine condition can only be imagined. Perhaps its original owner kept it safely out of circulation as a souvenir of Rome’s great millennium celebration.
6. Denarius featuring Philip II, co-Emperor along with his father, Philip I. This coin also graded an impressive Ch MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5. This coin is interesting since it feature Philip II on both obverse and reverse fields. Very little is known about his life and reign, and no wonder since it was brief and he had little, if anything, to do with governance. Before he would become a teenager, his father was killed as the legions revolted and named Trajan Decius their new Emperor. Philip II was not forgotten, however; when the news reached Rome, the Praetorian Guard killed the young co-Emperor as he clung to his Mother Severa.
7. Denarius featuring Empress Severa, wife of Philip the Arab. This coin graded MS, Strike 4/5, Surface 4/5. While she had a nice run as Augusta, her reign ended tragically with the death of the husband and her son (who was reportedly killed by the Praetorian Guard as her clung to her). Her final fate is uncertain, perhaps she was either allowed to live, or somehow managed to escape. She probably fled to Philippopolis, Philip’s Arabian hometown that was transformed into Rome’s image, one of many extravagances that led to disapproval and downfall.
8. Denarius featuring Emperor Trajan Decius, graded MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5. One thing I discovered about this coin (not when I purchased it but only afterwards in my research) is that its inscription lacks the moniker of Trajan Such coins appear to be extremely rare, and so far I have not found any more information or explanation about this. In any case, unfortunately for Decius, his propaganda campaign did not suffice to restore Rome's glory days under Trajan. In addition to the threats from the Persians, Germanic barbarians, and Goths, a horrible plague spread through Rome. In a rather remarkable development, Decius ordered all Romans to sacrifice before the magistrates of their community “for the safety of the empire” and receive a certificate recording their loyalty to the ancestral gods. Those who refused, as did many Christians, including the Pope, risked torture and execution. Despite the oblations, Rome’s problems persisted, and ultimately Decius fell in battle against the Goths. Decius, so adamant about leading a traditional life, ended it in atypical fashion as the first Roman Emperors to die in battle against a foreign enemy.
9. This slot is a tetradrachm struck in Antioch, featuring Roman Emperor Herennius Etruscus. The tetradrachm is an impressive denomination, more striking to behold compared to a denarius than the slight different in size and weight would suggest. This was one of the first such of these denominations that I acquired, and afterwards, I eagerly sought and acquired more, including some “extras” that I am not including in the current Roman Empire collection. As for Herennius, he reigned for a couple years until meeting the same fate as his father, killed in battle against the Goths.
10. Denarius featuring Empress Herennia Etruscilla, wife of Emperor Trajan Decius. This coin graded Ch AU, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5. She is one of many Empresses, particularly during the turbulent Crisis of the 3rd Century, who might have been forgotten by history if it were not for coinage. Remarkably, she was allowed to retain the Augusta title even after her husband’s death in battle.
11. This coin is an ancient bronze featuring Emperor Hostillian, son of Trajan Decius. While it might not seem special at first – graded XF, Strike =5/5, Surface =4/5 – this is one of my coins that has far more value and special meaning for me personally than “book value”. For me, this coin spoke to me, in an eerie way…specifically, it spoke to me about the impact of plague on the Roman Empire’s history. It was struck in Mosia (Viminacium), and depicts on the reverse a fascinating lion and bull design. The patina on this coin is very dark, possibly consistent with exposure to high temperatures and calcium, haunting reminders of widespread funeral pyres at this time in history. Hostillian himself was one of many, many Romans who fell victim to plague. I won’t go into more details here, if you are interested in learning more, please go check out my Owner’s Comments.
12. This coin is an absolutely stunning tetradrachm featuring Emperor Trebonianus Gallus. It graded Ch MS *, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5. The look and feel of this coin is so amazing, it is one of those specimens that I sometimes miss the chance of direct fondling now that I decided to have it graded an encapsulated within an NGC protective coin holder. If you want to learn more about Gallus, please see my Owner’s Comments – I will at least mention here that he met his end in similar fashion as many 3rd century AD Roman Emperors (yes, at the hands of disaffected troops!).
13. This slot features a denarius featuring Emperor Volusian. This coin graded MS, Strike 4/5, Surface 4/5. Volusian shared his fate with his co-Augustus and father, Trebonianus Gallus (see above).
14. This slot features a denarius struck in the name of Augustus Aemilian which graded MS, strike 4/5, surface 4/5. As for a synopsis of Aemilian, it is difficult to do better than Eutropius; “Aemilianus came from an extremely insignificant family, his reign was even more insignificant, and he was slain in the third month.”
15. Last, and certainly not least on this Page is a fascinating and extremely rare ancient bronze featuring Empress Cornelia Supera, wife of Emperor Aemilian. I choose this coin for its very interesting reverse, featuring the goddess Cybele, accompanied by her usual lions. I took the opportunity in my Owner’s Comments to discuss more about Cybele, the oldest Anatolian goddess, and her role as Rome’s protective goddess.