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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 61, Lot: 2027. Estimate $10000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2002. 
Sold For $7600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

JOTAPIAN. Circa 249 AD. Billon "Denarius" (3.95 gm). Nicopolis in Seleucia mint. IMP [M] F RV IOTA[PIANVS], laureate and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind / [VICTOR]IA AVG, Victory walking left holding wreath and palm. RIC IV -; R. Bland, “The Coinage of Jotapian,” -, but cf. pl. XXXV, 3(a) and 4(a) for same reverse die; Cohen -. VF, darkly toned, rough surfaces. Unique. Only eighteen coins of Jotapian are cited by Bland, all of which are antoniniani. ($10,000)

Jotapian led a short-lived revolt in Syria in the autumn of 249 while Philip I was still emperor. Little is known of Jotapian’s background. It was said that he boasted of a relationship to Severus Alexander, and his unusual name, although otherwise unknown for a man, is attested in its feminine form "Jotape" in the royal houses of Commagene and Emisa. The extreme rarity of his coins indicates that the revolt was brief, and the crude style proves that the revolt was geographically confined, for Jotapian plainly did not control a major Roman mint. His head was brought to Rome and shown to Trajan Decius "as was customary, although Decius had not asked for it"(Aurelius Victor, Historiae Abbreviatae, 29.4).

Although the bust is laureate on this unpublished obverse die, the flan is normal weight for an antoninianus of Jotapian (the 13 complete antoniniani whose weight is known average 4.06 gm, see Bland pg. 200). It may well be that this coin was not intended to be a denarius, but that an obverse die designed for aurei was pressed into service in the striking of antoniniani. The discovery of this coin may therefore support the suggestion by Delbrück that Jotapian could have struck aurei, none of which now survive (see Bland pg. 198).