Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Fascinating Titus Mule

A very interesting mule featuring an obverse of Titus as Augustus and a reverse intended for the deified Vespasian. Until this specimen surfaced only one other was known, it belonging to Curtis Clay, which is an obverse and reverse die match to my example. If I may be so bold, the following is what Curtis Clay wrote about his own specimen in 2005 which I cannot improve upon.

"This denarius is without doubt a mint mule, combining an obverse of Titus as Augustus with a reverse meant for Divus Vespasian. A normal denarius of Divus Vespasian with rev. STRUCK FROM THIS SAME DIE was in Rauch 67, part I, 26 Feb. 2001, 368 (I tried to acquire it too but was outbid!).
Does any list member possess a normal aureus or denarius of Titus struck from this same head-left obv. die, and if so, what is the reverse? It is a matter of some historical significance whether this obverse die belongs to 23 June-31 Dec. AD 79, the first six months of Titus' reign, COS VII on rev., or the next six months, AD 80 up to July 1, COS VIII on rev. (After that, perhaps because the mint burned down in the fire of 80, no more aurei or denarii were produced at Rome until the accession of Domitian in Sept. 81.)
Being able to date this obv. die would more or less solve a vexing question, namely when was Vespasian consecrated?
T.V. Buttrey, following H. Mattingly, believes that the consecration must have been postponed until 80, since all coins of Domitian as COS VI (79), plus a few as COS VII (80), call him simply AVG F, Son of the Augustus. Only when new aureus and denarius rev. types were introduced for Domitian early in 80 was his filiation changed to DIVI F, Son of the Consecrated Emperor.
I however think Vespasian was probably consecrated immediately after he died on 23 June 79. The persistence of AVG F for Domitian into 80 is odd and I cannot explain it, but I think this fact is outweighed by two other considerations.
First, it was natural, indeed inevitable, that the status of a deceased emperor, deification or condemnation, should be decided by the Senate immediately after his death. Immediate consecration or condemnation is explicitly attested for a number of other emperors before and after Vespasian. Delay could occur when the successor wanted consecration to enhance his own prestige but the Senate thirsted for revenge by condemnation, as in the cases of Tiberius and Hadrian, but there was no such disagreement about Vespasian: both Titus and the Senate surely favored his consecration. So it is impossible to explain why his consecration should have been postponed for six or more months after his death.
Second, the mint was striking aurei and denarii for Vespasian in four rev. types during the final six months of his life, Jan.-June 79.
When Vespasian died, three of these types were taken over by Titus as Augustus and, judging from the numbers in the Reka Devnia hoard, were struck in about the same volume until the end of 79 as the three types of Titus as Caesar in 79 which he also continued as Augustus. The aureus and denarius type of Domitian as Caesar in 79 also did not change when Vespasian died. In other words seven of the eight common aureus and denarius types of 79, three of Vespasian which were carried on by Titus, three of Titus himself first Caesar then Augustus, and one of Domitian Caesar, were without doubt struck continuously from beginning to end of the year.
But what about the fourth common precious-metal type of Vespasian alive in 79, Victory placing shield on Trophy? This type was not struck for Titus as Augustus, instead we find it with obverse of DIVVS AVGVSTVS VESPASIANVS, and with the titles of Vesp. on reverse changed to EX SC to convert it into a consecration type! This type was about as common in the Reka Devnia hoard as the six denarius types of Titus as Augustus in the second half of 79.
I find it impossible to believe that this type was revived for Divus Vespasian after his alleged delayed consecration early in 80. It sticks out like a sore thumb among the other precious metal types of Divus Vespasian, as the only one to merely repeat a type of the living Vespasian instead of advertising the new honors that had been decreed with his consecration. No: obviously the type belongs to the second half of 79, contemporaneous with the other three types of the living Vespasian which Titus had taken over for himself, proving that Vespasian was consecrated immediately after he died!
This is the same rev. type of Divus Vespasian that was wrongly coupled with an obv. die of Titus as Augustus on the denarius reproduced here. If my chronology is correct, this will have been an obv. die of AD 79 and will also have been coupled with correct reverses of Titus dated COS VII not COS VIII, if such coins have survived and can be found!
I have searched without success for this obv. die in coinarchives, wildwinds, several photofiles compiled from printed sale catalogues and lists, and the major published museum catalogues."

Interestingly enough, earlier this year an obverse die match was found with an appropriate Titus reverse (Tripod and dolphin) dating to 80 AD.

Titus RIC-368 (Mule)
AR Denarius
Rome mint, 79-80 AD
RIC 368 (R3), BMC - , RSC -
Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l.
Rev: EX S C across field; Victory adv. l., placing shield on trophy; below, Judaea std. l.
3.30 g

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