The only draped bust from Balbinus to Gordianus III

  This article tackles a complex subject, are some busts only draped? The work I have done is on the draped and cuirassed busts seen from three quarter back.

From Balbin to Gordian III these busts are described as laureates, draped and cuirassed. Mr Curtis Clay had listed several types for Balbinus, whose bust varied and noted for the first time the bust "draped seen from three quarter back". Summary: the busts known until now were seen from the front, draped and cuirassed. The new bust listed by Mr. Curtis Clay is only draped and seen from three quarter back. I then brought a new type with this bust: P M TR P COS II PP. All these busts seen from three quarter back, have a very smooth shoulder and as Mr. Curtis Clay noted, the cuirass is missing.

Regarding Gordian I and II these busts seen from three quarter back are known and all noted as draped and cuirassed. However, in my research I noted a good number of coins with the smooth shoulder. One can think that the wear and the bad impression may have erased the lines on the shoulder which serve as only proof of the presence of the cuirass, given that the drape covers the back. So I selected the coins in almost very good condition. Among the fairly large number of isolated copies, I noticed that lines appear in the lower part of the shoulder which is in the shade. I therefore excluded the coins whose lower part is not very visible. It therefore remains in the study, the coins with a perfectly illuminated shoulder and whose general wear of the coin is very low. Several coins are still present among those of the departure, none shares the same obverse die as another.

Let us now take the coins whose lower part of the shoulder is quite dark but sufficiently illuminated, whose wear is low and does not seem to show any lines. If I add them to the others whose shoulders are undoubtedly smooth, the final number of copies is very substantial.

Elagablus also has busts with smooth shoulder and these have been noted and listed as only draped. This entire period going up to Gordian III is therefore to be studied. As we have seen, on the side of Balbinus and Gordianus I some busts are draped and not cuirassed. What about other emperors? In the same rigor of work, I also isolated the same type of bust for Gordian III .. and this having looked at only a hundred coins of various types!

To judge the state of wear of a coin I was particularly attentive to the cheek of the emperors, it seems to me that this part is as high and subject to wear as the shoulder.

Conclusion: in my opinion and I am joined by various experts and specialists with whom I have discussed, the cuirass is missing. These are therefore new lines to write concerning a new bust for these emperors cited in the article. One can object that the great majority of coins of this period show a smooth shoulder on the top and striated (presence of cuirass) at the bottom ... And that therefore we cannot exclude the cuirass. To which I answer that the copies that we will see below have no trace of a line including at the bottom of the shoulder. To further support my argument I quote the RIC 4B about Gordian I n ° 6, page 161, note: (? cuir.) Proof that the authors also have a doubt about the presence of the cuirass.

Finally, let's look at the most interesting coins with an analysis commentary:

Photo of a coin sold the 24/10/2020, by Leu Numismatik, Auction 7, lot 1656, link to the sale:, link to their website: This Gordian I coin shows a smooth shoulder on the top but the lower and dark part is well striated. The cuirass is present.


Photo of a coin sold the 05/01/2016 by Classical numismatic Group, Triton XIX, lot 601, link to the sale:, link to their website: Coin of Gordian I with the smooth shoulder but whose very dark lower part cannot exclude the presence of the cuirass.


Photo of a coin sold the 06/01/2013 by Heritage Auctions, Auction 3021, lot 21416, link to the sale and their website: Bust of Gordian I with the whole shoulder is well illuminated and smooth. No breastplate visible.


Photo of a coin sold the 01/11/2015 by Numismatik Naumann, Auction 37, lot 695, link to the sale:, link to their website: Bust of Gordian III with a very bright, smooth shoulder. Slight wear on the hair but in my opinion the wear is not enough to erase the cuirass on the shoulder. The drape passing on each side of the shoulder is very clear, yet having fine details. For me, no cuirass is present.