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Correcting a Mistake from 1898

CNG 91, Lot: 920. Estimate $200.
Sold for $425. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Septimius Severus. AD 193-211. AR Denarius (19mm, 2.65 g, 12h). Laodicea mint. Struck AD 194-195. L SEPT SEV P ERET AVG IMP I I, laureate head right / IOVI VIC TORI, Jupiter seated left, holding Victory and spear. RIC IV 441B = BMCRE p. 106, f = RSC 249a = Sir John Evans, “A Hoard of Roman Coins,” NC 1898, p. 151 and pl. XII, 18 corr. (obv. legend); BMCRE 431 var. (distribution of legends); RSC 249b. VF, usual light porosity. Very rare.

This issue has been categorized with a small group that had been thought to have an obverse legend ending in IMP I, which numismatists have long thought to be an engraver’s error, and likely were issues with IMP II where the final I was left off for various reasons. The first, and apparently only, published example of this type was found in a hoard reported by Sir John Evans in the 1898 Numismatic Chronicle. In that report, he noted the obverse legend as: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP I. This was clearly in error, as the illustration of that coin shows PERET, and there is a second I below the bust. Unfortunately, this reading was neither corrected in RIC, nor both editions of the BMCRE volume V, nor RSC. In fact, this coin has the traditional IMP II legend found on other examples of IOVI VICTORI type, as BMCRE 431 correctly notes (which also happens to be struck from the same reverse die as the 1898 hoard coin). On some examples, as here and on the 1898 hoard coin, the engraver apparently ran out of room before the bust, and therefore placed the second I below the truncation, the only other place he could naturally place it. The problem of identifying the error has also been exacerbated by the fact that both RIC and BMCRE cite two different incorrect page numbers for the hoard coin in the 1898 publication. We may now conclude that there are no IOVI VICTORI types that have an obverse legend that ends with the odd IMP I.