Sunday, March 20, 2011

The secondary Caracalla dies of Tertullus


III, (b) Caracalla's Secondary Obverse Die

Pick, AMNG I, 1 no. 1533  HrJ

This coin has a good patina and was properly cleaned.  The legends, while incomplete, are easily restored (by HrJ probably from the specimen, not known to Pick or to me, listed by Mushmov, since Pick had his reading from Mionnet, from the Paris specimen).  The letter forms and, in my opinion, the style overall are alike on the two dies.  The C placed below the  fold of the cloak across the breast, and in line with the other letters, on the obverse is an earmark for this die as are the lank ties of the laurel.  Also the neck is a little heavier in proportion, the nose is straighter, the boy's expression is sleepy rather than sassy, and the folds of the drapery are simplified.  The type is the same as on the portrait I called primary, but the style is different.  On the reverse, the horse is lively and charming, but it looks quite Danubian: it has hints of east-Celtic.  I have allowed myself to fancy a talented but native-Danubian engraver in the atelier to whom the second set of dies was entrusted.  Not that we can know anything of the sort.

Here we have two specimens of a coin that Pick, no. 1516,  knew only from a single specimen then in the market.  If I can show two, for their combined evidence, both of which appeared only recently (and I owe one of them to a colleague), it only shows that rarity is not immutable.  The reverse die, however, certainly goes with the very similar one for Septimius, which is Pick's no. 1271 and HrJ, where also other specimens are shown of the same die for Septimius, which Caracalla's only closely resembles.  The head of Zeus on these strongly recalls that of the river god on the acclamation issue for Caracalla and Geta shown again here for comparison; Pick knew one in Berlin, and HrJ illustrate the present coin.  To me, these associations suggest (as I said in another context in a previous essay) rather two anvils working at once than two successive issues. 
Similarly, with this obverse die and with a Lysippic Weary Herakles which appeared when HrJ's new Nicopolis had already gone to press (it was unknown to Pick, too).  Again, it is a die that certainly belongs with that for Septimius (paired in the second essay with a quasi-divine bare-bust portrait) but is a different die and a Herakles type previously unrecorded for Caracalla.
Again, and with complete legends, we have the legionary standards flanking a regardant eagle on an altar, Pick's no. 1534 (HrJ,
while a very charming, and not excessively worn Caracalla portrait die, used with an eagle with spread wings, and with Tertullus's name all spelled out on the reverse, seems to be from an unfamiliar die (again, we owe this contribution to a generous friend).

There is one more apparently coherent group of Tertullus coins, those with oddly folkloric types of deities, to which I shall devote the next essay.