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Volume 1, Issue 3
By: Curtis L. Clay

Mionnet, Suppl. II (Paris, 1822), p. 429, 1344, reports the following coin: 

IOVL KORNH PAVLA CEB AVT KAICAR ANTWNEINOC AVG, vis-à-vis portraits of Elagabalus and Julia Paula

ΠEΡINΘIΩN ΔIC NEΩKOPΩN, Togate emperor and empress in stola standing and clasping hands

AE 35 (Mionnet's size 10), "ordinary fabric".

Mionnet had apparently seen the coin, for he notes that it had been retouched on both sides.  The fact that he names no other source should mean that the coin was in the Paris collection, but Michel Amandry has checked for me and writes that the coin is not in Paris, not among their genuine coins of Perinthus nor in their forgery trays, to which I thought it might have been relegated because of the tooling.

Schönert, in her corpus of the coins of Perinthus, includes no such obverse type of Elagabalus and Paula, nor does she even mention and try to account for the coin described by Mionnet.  Neither Mouchmov nor Varbanov records an obverse type of this sort at Perinthus.  Nor is there any such coin in any of the other sources I have checked, for example Berk photofile, CoinArchives, Wildwinds, Mabbott Collection, Burstein Collection (Peus 366, 2000), M&M Greek Imperials sale of 1973, Lindgren, Winsemann, SNG Righetti.

I recently acquired a second specimen of this coin, unfortunately in mediocre condition, from Alfredo De La Fe, who tells me that he acquired it several years ago in a lot of Roman provincials:

AE 31-33, 21.23g, axis 1h, photo below by Alfredo De La Fe.
Double-Portrait coin of Elagabalus and Julia Paula of Perinthus

Obverse:  Vis-à-vis busts of Julia Paula, draped and wearing stephane, on the left, and of Elagabalus, laureate, probably draped and cuirassed seen from behind, on the right.

Traces of some letters behind Paula's portrait, but a few letters only become really legible from 1-3 o'clock: ...AVG (the VG ligate) K AVT K M...(this last M looking more like a P, but no Ps occur in Elagabalus' name).  Beneath the two busts [ANTWNE]INO[C], and probably [AVG] in a second line.

Reverse:  [PER]INΘIWN DIC NEWK[OPWN], Empress, draped and apparently wearing stephane, on left, and emperor, togate and laureate, on right, standing and clasping hands.

The obverse legend of my coin, fragmentary though it is, differs in several ways from that on Mionnet's coin.

First, Mionnet reports CEB at the end of Paula's name, but my coin shows AVG.

Next, my coin shows K(ai) = "and" between the two imperial names, but no such letter is reported by Mionnet.

Finally, on my coin Elagabalus' name begins in the usual way for Perinthus,


but Mionnet reports a strange form omitting the obligatory M(αρkoc),


It seems very likely that there was only one obverse die of this type used at Perinthus, and therefore that the legend deviations on Mionnet's coin, rather than being original, were merely due to extensive modern re-engraving.  It would be nice if Mionnet's coin turned up someday, so that we could check its obverse die against my coin.  A better third specimen showing the complete obverse legend would also be very welcome!

As far as I have been able to ascertain, only one other city, Anazarbus in Cilicia, struck coins with an obverse type of Elagabalus and Julia Paula together.  These coins of Anazarbus, Ziegler 377-379, Sear 3144=BM 22, are middle bronzes, all coming from a single obverse die, showing a radiate bust of Elagabalus on the left facing a veiled bust of Paula on the right, coupled with three different reverse types.

Two other cities, Paltus in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt, struck coins with the legend and portrait of Elagabalus on the obverse and the legend and portrait of Paula on the reverse.

No Roman imperial coins combining the portraits of Elagabalus and Julia Paula are known, though it is possible that medallions combining their portraits were struck but have not survived, since a unique large bronze piece is known showing vis-à-vis portraits of Elagabalus and another of his wives, Aquilia Severa, coupled with the unimaginative reverse type SPES PVBLICA, Spes advancing left.


Copyright notices: Article and text Copyright 2009 by Curtis L. Clay.

Copyright 2008-2014 Alfredo De La Fé