Author Topic: Imitation of a Commodus Caesar denarius from Ukraine  (Read 470 times)

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Offline Pellinore

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Imitation of a Commodus Caesar denarius from Ukraine
« on: September 15, 2017, 03:01:10 AM »
I have a small collection of fringe denarii found in Ukraine and adjacent Russian provinces. A typical barbaric imitation (or irreverently, a barb) with its almost unreadable lettering and caricatural reverse. The text and the form of the head point to young Commodus who was depicted on official Roman coins with a little hair on his face in the 170s (he was born in 161 and caesared in 166). On the reverse one may perceive a luxuriously pigtailed lady in billowing skirts sporting a walking stick and an hourglass. It might be an imitation of Providentia or Hilaritas.

Apparently, a huge hoard of 8000 denarii was found near Kursk (Russia) twenty years ago, containing a small percentage of this type of imitations from the 150-200 AD period. But this particular coin is from Ukraine, I was told. Coins like these are found around the Dniepr basin and in Podolia, more to the west. An interesting piece by Sergeev in his book Barbarian Coins on the Territory Between the Balkans and Central Asia (Moscow, 2012 - p. 214-216) treats this type of contemporary forged denarii. Sergeev thinks these coins originated about 200, when Septimius Severus drained the edges of his empire of its silver: a shortage of money invited local entrepreneurs to mint discrete, not too attractive silver coins and insert these in public life quietly.

This denarius measures 16.5 mm and weighs 1.78 gr.
-- Paul

« Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 03:13:20 AM by Pellinore »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Imitation of a Commodus Caesar denarius from Ukraine
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 08:47:16 AM »
Thanks for posting, Pellinore. With so much attention lavished on Roman coins, these imitations become more interesting; a lively counterpoint to the official propaganda of "all is well and the emperor is great" on the official coins.

Official Roman matriarchs wouldn't have a walking stick. They'd be carried around in a litter if they had the urge to go out. So who is the Pinocchio-nosed lady? Inspired by a divine lady on official coins with a spear or a staff? Sounds convincing, but I am struck by your use of the term "caricatural". The official coins may well have been pretty worn by the time they cam to the Ukraine, leaving free play to fantasy and fun. The walking stick would make sense for a lady plying the street professionally: to defend herself, to measure the depth of the water in the filthy puddles, to sweep aside a piece of unspeakable garbage in the street, to guide her at night. Right. That kind of "lady". :)
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.