Domitian AR denarius 81 CE
Domitian. AD 81-96. AR Denarius
(17.5mm, 3.47 g, 6h). Rome mint.
Struck 13 September-31 December AD 81.
Obv: Laureate head right; IMP CAESAR DOMITANVS AVG
Rev: Pulvinar (throne) of Jupiter and Juno: square seat, draped, with tassels: it has a triangular frame on it, on which are three vertical bars on each side and one palmette in center, there is a lituus under the triangular frame; TR P COS VII.
RIC II.1 3 (Var), RSC 554a (var).
Light tone over hairlined surfaces. Good VF. From the Benito Collection.
CNG electronic auction 468 Lot 411
It so happens that I already have an example of this coin. This one, however, is a much nice coin than the first one i acquired. Okay, so it is a first year denarius of Domitian and a very early coin for him as Augustus. What is the fuss about? Well this type is was also used by Titus before Domitian's reign. On the Titus examples there are versions with and without a Lituus under the triangular frame on the reverse. Curtis Clay has commented that the object does not really look like a Lituus as represented on other coins. Whatever it is this variant also occurs on denarii for Domitian. RIC 3 for Domitian does not have the Lituus under the frame. This example with the Lituus could be called RIC 3 Var. That is, a variety of RIC 3. in fact my first example of this coin was published in the first issue of the journal KOINON. This variety was not shown or mentioned in the latest RIC.
Okay so it is rare but does it have any other redeeming features? First just take a look at the portrait. I have rarely seen the beard on Domitian so well defined. Also, the overall condition of the coni is exceptional. There is yet another reason I wanted the coin-the provenance. It once belonged to a collector who went by the Handle Benito on Forum Ancient Coins. It turns out the collector was a long time diplomat who rose to the level of ambassador to several different countries.
I love the condition, I love that it is a rare variant, an I love the provenance. I always find that a good story adds tremendously to the overall story of the coin.