The travel series coins of Hadrian
The Roman emperor Hadrian produced a celebrated series of travel coins commemorating his travels to the various provinces of the Roman Empire. This series is much beloved by collectors, and is very popular to collect. These coins come in gold, silver, and bronze. These were all believed to have been made in Rome, I am not including provincial issues which served a different purpose, to be used as local currency in their locale. These "travel series" coins were meant to spread the propaganda of the emperor's travels.
Generally the set is understood to include 4 distinct types:
1) Location name alone
2) Adventi Augustus (arrival of the emperor)
3) Restitutori (restorer of the province, essentially building statues and cancelling debts)
4) Exercitus (military exercises, essentially dress review of the frontier legionary camps)
I believe there are 28 different locations in the series. A 29th location is seen on coins of Aelius, Hadrian's caesar (who predeceased him).
There are several ways to collect the series. Probably the most popular is to stick with the silver provincial types. Of these, there are 8 of the first type (location name alone): Aegyptos, Africa, Alexandria, Asia, Germania, Hispania, Italia, and Nile River. A 9th location is available in silver- the Restitutori type of Gallia. All of the rest are only in bronze, in denominations of the sestertius, dupondius, and as. A number of types are also available in gold; these are very desirable pieces.
Rarity is sometimes hard to quantify. Certain locations are extremely rare, and, for example, I have never seen an example of Dalmatia. Cilicia, Nicomedia, and Noricum also seem to be extremely hard to find. Apart from these, the rarer provinces seem to be Arabia, Bithynia, Britannia, Macedonia, Moesia, Phrygia, Raetia, Sicilia, Syria, and Thracia. The rest are relatively common.
Hadrian's journeys took him throughout the empire on three trips. The first was from 117-118, and was his journey from Antioch to Rome, via Asia Minor, the Balkans, and the Danube front, after he learned he was emperor. The second was a trip across the Western Empire, to far flung places such as Pannonia, Britannia, and Hispania, and then by boat to Asia Minor and Greece. The last trip took him to Sicily, North Africa, Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Egypt.
Coins were issued in the later part of his reign, commemorating his visits to many of these places.
A collection of every one of these locations would be quite an undertaking, given the rarities involved, and unfortunately many of these are almost unknown in higher grades. I have not seen a complete collection, but I have seen some very comprehensive sets, usually as part of larger accumulations of Hadrian's coinage varieties.
I am making some headway with my own set, and will present my progress here, in a roughly chronologic order: Hope to continue to update this as holes are (slowly) filled in.
Journey 1 (117-118)
Hadrian starts in Antioch. This coin does not say Antioch, but depicts the city god Tyche and the river god Orontes
Hadrian Tyche as
Hadrian left Antioch and traveled north into Cilicia
[no example of Cilicia yet]
Hadrian goes next to Cappadocia in Asia Minor, with its major city Tyana.
Hadrian Cappadocia dupondius or as
From here Hadrian heads into Galatia (no coins), and then Bythinia
Hadrian restorer of Bithynia sestertius
Next Hadrian went into the city of Nicomedia
[no example of Nicomedia yet]
He continued on into Byzantium (now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople..) (no coins)
And then through Thracia
[no example of Thracia yet]
He went up into Moesia
Hadrian arrival into Moesia sestertius
And next into Dacia
Hadrian Dacia sestertius
He continued along the Danube frontier, briefly crossing through part of Dalmatia
[no example of Dalmatia yet]
Next it was up into Pannonia (coins only in the name of Aelius, Hadrian's caesar)
[no example of Pannonia yet]
And finally down into Italia
Hadrian Italia denarius
Hadrian arrived in Rome in 118.
Hadrian arrival in Rome denarius
Journey 2 (121-125)
The next trip started in 121. This time, Hadrian went northwest.
He went first to Gallia
Hadrian restorer of Gallia denarius
Next it was up to the Rhine frontier and Germania
Hadrian Germania denarius
Next, east into Raetia
Hadrian military exercises of Raetia sestertius
Then, back to the Danube frontier and to Noricum
[no example of Noricum yet]
And back into Pannonia. From there, he backtracked into Germania and Gallia and took a boat across the channel into Britannia
Hadrian Britannia As
He went to the north of the island and made plans for the wall in northern England that would eventually bear his name.
He went back through Gallia and south to Hispania
Hadrian Hispania denarius
From Hispania, he took a boat, supposedly all the way to the other side of the Mediterranean and Antioch. From there, it was back into Asia Minor, inspecting the border with Parthia, and up to the Black Sea coast. Then back across Bithynia, to Nicomedia, and then south through the province of Asia
Hadrian Asia denarius
From Ephesus in Asia, he went across the Aegean to Achaea
Hadrian restorer of Achaea dupondius
Then up to Macedonia
Hadrian arrival in Macedonnia as
Back on the boat and to Sicilia
Hadrian arrival in Sicilia sestertius
And finally back to Rome.
Journey 3 (128-134)
His last journey again took him around the Mediterranean, and largely to the east.
He started in Sicilia, and then down to Africa
Hadrian Africa denarius
From Carthage, he went west to Mauretania
Hadrian Mauretania as
He went back to Italia, took a boat to Achaea, and then on to Asia. From Ephesus, he went east, into Phrygia
Hadrian arrival in Phrygia sestertius
He continued on into Cappadocia, back down through Cilicia, through Antioch, and into Syria
[no example of Syria yet]
He then went south into Judaea
Hadrian arrival to Judaea sestertius
Hadrian was not very culturally sensitive here, and it is thought that his behavior here set the stage for a violent revolt in the coming years. Hadrian traveled on to Arabia
Hadrian restorer of Arabiae sestertius
He continued on to Aegyptus
Hadrian Aegyptus denarius
He went to the major city of Alexandria at least twice
Hadrian Alexandria denarius
He went for a boat trip up the Nile river all the way to Thebes.
Hadrian Nile river denarius
The boat trip was not a happy one, as during the trip Hadrian's favorite, Antinous, drowned
Back in Alexandria, Hadrian headed back to Asia Minor, then Achaea, but his plans to return to Italy were interrupted by the outbreak of a serious revolt in Judaea, the Bar Kokhba revolt. While Rome was ultimately able to quell the rebellion, it was a bloody affair, which led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, and required the concentration of a large portion of the Empire's army, and Hadrian himself. Hadrian finally returned by boat to Rome in 134, and stayed put until his death in 138.
Collecting these coins is fun, challenging, and teaches a good deal about the history and geography of the ancient Mediterranean and European world.