Lot 456. Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Late 1st-early 2nd century A.D. Æ. Dioskouri(d)as(?), magistrate.
Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Late 1st-early 2nd century A.D. Æ (17 mm, 3.98 g, 12 h). Dioskouri(d)as(?), magistrate. ΛΑΩΔΙ-ΚΕΩΝ, draped bust of Mên right, wearing Phrygian cap and resting on a crescent / Eagle standing right, head left, on thunderbolt; around, magistrate's name: ΔI[...]-AΣ; in left field, PKO monogram. Cf. RPC I 2907 (time of Tiberius?); cf. RPC IV temp. 2115 (time of Antoninus Pius). An appealing bust of MÍn, highlighted by sandy deposits outlining the portrait. Black patina. Nearly extremely fine.
While the depiction of Mên is made especially attractive by the contrasting patina, the superior workmanship of the engraving is what is most important about this coin. To this cataloguer it hints at something more progressed than the slightly schematic, less evolved engraving found on the coinage struck under the Julio-Claudian emperors. Contrasting with this fine-style portrait of Mên, however, is the engraving of the legends, with the individual letters quite crude, malformed and elongated.
RPC I 2907 records twenty specimens of this type. Another eight are easily found online. The magistrate is Dioskouriades (ΔΙΟΣΚΟΥΡΙΔΗΣ). Nowhere did the authors note any instance of a misspelling or a different reading of the magistrate's name on the many specimens they examined. Although the entirety of the magistrate's name is unclear on this coin, it is quite certain that the final letters of the magistrate's name are ΑΣ, not HΣ as RPC I 2907. The first two letters are ΔΙ (engraved as ΛI), followed by several more letters in the exergue that are illegible. So while the magistrate's name here cannot be Dioskourides, it could very well be either Dioskouridas or Dioskourias. The question is are we looking at an engraver's error here, or is this a different magistrate?
Neither RPC II nor III list any coins of this type. RPC IV Online has one example noted as being struck under Antoninus Pius (temp. 2115 at http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/2115/), which shows a significant divergence from our coin in both its style of engraving and flan manufacture, as a coin struck a half-century or more later should. No die matches to either the obverse or reverse die that were used to strike this coin were found among the specimens observed online, although there are plenty of die matches between other examples of this type. One specimen that was twice sold by CNG (see CNG E203, 321 and again later as E273, 122) has lettering which nearly exactly matches the crude lettering of our coin. Interestingly, its magistrate's name also begins ΔΙ (ΛI) and ends AΣ with the middle letters obscure (although they don't at first appear to spell Dioskouria(d)as, they are crude and it is possible that they do; CNG identifies the magistrate as Dioskourides as if the name ended HΣ).
Given the differences in the spelling of the magistrate's name taken together with the dichotomous nature of the portrait and letter engraving, could this perhaps be a later issue? Although there are no examples of this type, RPC II does illustrate several other pseudo-autonomous issues struck during the Flavian period, and this type did actually continue later under Antoninus Pius (RPC IV temp. 2115). Could it therefore perhaps be an unpublished issue struck under Nerva or Trajan, with a fine style engraving of the portrait and an evolved epigraphical style?