Small medallion Marcus Aurelius - Facing Minerva
MARCUS AURELIUS (under ANTONINUS PIUS). Æ copper MB Medallion (?). Rome, 145. Weight 22.23 g, diam. 29mm, axis 12h.
Ob. AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS II Bare head r.
Rev. S – C Minerva standing facing on rostral column, holding spear and shield; owl at feet to l.
RIC 1265; Cohen 575 (10 F)
The representation on reverse shows Minerva facing, which is the only representation I know on a Roman coinage. There are some very few types in the Greek coinage with facing representation of Athena/Palladion, see at least Pergamon (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=475846, http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=580838) and Sicily/Himera (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=499531)
Minerva on rostral prow is mainly (only ?) seen on Domitian silver coinage (e.g. http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=496884)
This piece is struck on a thick medallion-like copper flan, with a typical middle bronze flan but weighting twice the regular As. Cohen cites the Denmark museum for this type, so it wasn’t present in the BN at the time (1880), and I’ve never seen this reverse anywhere else. Strack visited Copenhagen, but apparently he missed seeing this As, for he doesn’t include it in his catalogue, and he only mentions Cohen’s description, Coh. 575, in connection with a variant type, Strack 960. Obviously he found no others in any other public or private collection.
Similar reverses for Antoninus Pius :
- Strack 1005, pl. XIII, knew the same type for A. Pius, unique in Naples, from a different rev. die, with the owl, weight not given but on a very broad flan, probably also overweight like this ex.
- the same type of frontal Palladium, but without the owl, on an ordinary As of A. Pius struck at about the same time, with rev. legend TR POT COS IIII S – C: Strack 968, pl. XII, in Paris, Vatican, and Bologna.
[C. Clay update]
The outstanding rarity and the double size module speak in the favor of a special issue, a true medallion though bearing the SC letters, which usual medallions lack ; but multiple examples of small and large medallions with SC letters are known.
It probably belongs to the 'New Year issues' Asses and medallions, to be used as New Year's presents (see next C. Clay article in Num. Chron. 2012).
The patina is a dark green to black, with once some thick earthen encrustations, which matches the typical Near-East patina. Found in Lebanon/Syria ?
ROMA Auction IV (Oct. 1st 2012), lot 2777