Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A "Fun" Coin of Elagabalus

Moesia Inferior Markianopolis AD 218-222
(26mm 11.05g) 4 Assaria
Obv: AVT KM AVR ANTWNEINOC laureate draped bust right
Rev: P CEPG TITIANOV MARKIANOPOLIT L N Hera standing with patera and scepter. (Sergius Titianus, Magistrate)
Ref: Moushmov 656 c.f. , AMNG 903 c.f. Ex Harry Stewart

Here is a Provincial coin of Elagablaus, issued from the city of Marcianopolis. Marcianopolis was a city in Moesia Inferior. It was located near modern day Devnya, Bulgaria. Previously known as Parthenopolis, it was renamed by the Emperor Trajan after his sister Ulpia Marciana. It issued coins from the reign of Commodus (AD 180-192) through about 248 A.D. during the reign of Philip I.

Elagabalus (Varivs Avitvs Bassianvs) was born either in late 204 or early 205 to Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus He entered the service of the Emesan sun-god, Elagabal, (hence his nickname Elagabalus). His bizarre and erratic behavior quickly eroded the support of the people and more importantly his troops. He married a Vestal Virgin, which went against Roman law and tradition and shocked the people of Rome. He also installed the sun god Elagabal above Jupiter in the Roman Pantheon of gods. Coupled with his scandalous sexual behavior, he quickly fell out of favor with the Roman people and was killed by members of the Praetorian Guard on March 6, 222. His body was dragged through the streets of Rome and was eventually tossed into the Tiber River. So much for ol’ Gabby!

Now for the fun part! Some coins are just fun to play with. This coin is one of my fun coins. I don’t normally collect provincial coins, but when Harry Stewart offered this one up at an Ancient Peddler’s Peddlers Market Auction, something about it caught my interest. The portrait of Elagabalus is good, even with the centration dimple, the lettering is clear and legible, the coin is well centered and of good metal. The color and texture of the coin is interesting, at least to me the coin has great eye appeal.

I enjoy handling all of my coins, what better way to enjoy a collection of ancient coins than to hold them in your hands, feel their heft, their texture and imagine the countless hands they have passed through on their way to yours. At least for me some coins for whatever reason are just more fun to hold. This coin is one of them! At 26mm and 11.05g it has a nice heft to it. It has a unique texture that my fingers find interesting. It has a very solid feel to it, heck its just fun to play with! It is often the first coin I hand people when I show them my collection for the first time, (you know, just before their eyes glaze over from boredom!)

Is it weird to have a favorite coin to handle? Perhaps. There are many things to enjoy when collecting coins, so why can't a coin just be "fun" to handle. I’d like to know if others have favorite coins to handle, or am I the only weirdo? (More than likely!) Thanks for reading.

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