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Recent Posts



Vespasian Denarius 69-79 CE

Yes, this is yet another denarius of Vespasian. I like his coins for the variety they offer. There are many interesting reverses on his coinage. this one has an exceptional portrait. You might notice a difference in the portrait style of the denarius when compared to other denarii of Vespasian. This coin was minted in Ephesus. Apparently, the engravers that worked in that mint included some masters of the art. Compare the portrait style to the Rome mint denarii I posted earlier on this blog. The other interesting thing abut this coin is the reverse. It only has very simple design elements, the wreath and the title AVG forAugustus. Yet there is a real elegance to this reverse for all of its s

Domitian Denarius 81-96 CE

At first glance, this denarius looks exactly like the last Domitian (RIC 3) that I posted a couple of days ago. There is one significant difference. Take a look at the reverse on this coin below, and the reverse on RIC 3 that I referred to above. On the in the photo below you will see the same triangular frame as RIC 3, but below the frame you will see a strange shape. It is a Lituus, a device like a crooked wand, used in augury. As is true with RIC 3, this coin was issued very early in Domitian's reign as Augustus. As such, the portrait on this coin has the same interesting nose as RIC 3. As for cataloguing, this variation does not appear in the major references. I think it makes sense to t

Nero Denarius 54-68 CE

I knew when I started building my 12 Caesars collection that I would eventually want a pre-reform denarius of Nero. The problem is that these are quite scarce in any condition. Also, there is much competition for them the they do appear for sale. Denarii like this one were minted before Nero decided to debase the silver coinage. Pre-reform denarii like this one are at near 100% fineness. This dropped considerably after the debasement. The earlier denarii are also heavier than the post reform coinage.One reason Nero debased the coins was to make up for a shortfall in available cash because of the massive spending he committed to building projects. This is not a perfect coin, but I like severa

Who were the 12 Caesars?

In AD 121, the emperors Hadrian’s secretary, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus wrote “De Vita Caesarum” (About the life of the Ceasars) commonly known as “The 12 Caesars”. Technically he only wrote about 11 Caesars and the other figure was the dictator Julius Caesar. The famous Julius Caesar was central to the ending of the Roman Republic. He was a general and statesman and was assassinated on the Ides of March, March 15, 44 BCE. His portrait denarii are very eagerly sought after by collectors and often cost thousands of dollars. In fact, many numismatists speculate that putting his portrait on a coin was a contributing factor to his assassination. Augustus was by many accounts a beloved emperor.

Augustus Denarius 27 BCE-14 CE

Although Augustus was the second Caesar covered by Suetonius, he really was the first ruler of the new Roman empire. Originally known by the name Octavian, he became Augustus as the new ruler of the empire. The coin below is special to me for two reasons. First, I love the anepigraphic (no legend) obverse. I feel this gives an elegant look to the portrait and make the portrait the focus of the coin. Many emperors were very particular as to how their images appeared on their coins and Augustus was no exception. It is difficult to tell when a coin of Augustus was issued by the portrait alone because his portraits did not age very much from his beginnings as emperor until his death. Another rea

Titus Denarius 79-81 CE

Titus was very much involved in the suppression of the Jewish revolt in Judea. His other claim to fame was that he completed the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater after the death of his father Vespasian. Titus had something else in common with his father. Like his father, Titus used coin types that were throwbacks to earlier times. One such example is the coin below. On the reverse you will see a ship's prow and a star overhead. This image hearkens back to the Imperatorial period on coins of Marcus Antonius and Ahenobarbus. However, it goes back even further to the republic when it was used on many bronze coins. On the issue of these coins copying earlier designs, a friend who is also

Claudius Denarius 41-54 CE

Claudius was rumoured to have been deformed in some way. This probably saved his life because no one considered him to be a threat. After the murder of Gaius Claudius apparently hid in the palace. He was found by the guards and he was proclaimed emperor. One of his best known accomplishments was his successful invasion of England in 53 CE. On the reverse of this coin is the figure of Constantia. She was the personification of constancy or steadiness. Since emperors often used their coins as propaganda, it is safe to assume that Claudius was trying to portray the empire as being in good hands and in untroubled condition. This would have been especially true in the case of Claudius who, one ca

Vespasian Denarius 69-79 CE

This denarius of Vespasian is interesting because of the reverse. The reverse features Nemesis walking with a snake. This reverse was also used earlier by Claudius. In fact, Vespasian revived many of the earlier coin types for his own coinage. The other interesting fact about this denarius is the provenance. This coin once belonged to E. E. Clain-Stefanelli. She was senior Curator of the National Numismatic Collection in the Numismatics Division of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. She also published works concerning ancient coins and their history. Vespasian, 69-79 A.D. AR Denarius, 3.16g. 21.41mm. Rome, 73 A.D. Obv: IMP CAES VESP AVG CENS.

Tiberius Denarius 14-37 CE

Tiberius was the third of "The Twelve Caesars" as described in the Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius. He is well known as the emperor who would groom the next emperor, Gaius (more commonly known as Caligula).The denarii of Tiberius are sometimes referred to as boring by some collectors. One reason is that there were only a few types of denarii issued. By far the most common is the one that many refer to as "The Tribute Penny" of the bible.It must be said however that there are minor variations in the design of the reverse on the Tribute Penny and there are collectors who try to get as many variations as possible. The denarius below is much less common. The reverse is very similar to a revers

Domitian Denarius 81-96 CE

Domitian was the son of Vespasian. He became emperor after the death of Vespasian's other son Titus. Domitian was the last of the Flavian dynasty. Take a look at the obverse portrait on this coin. Domitian's Roman nose is quite prominent. On later issues the nose has been made less prominent. This is a good example of how emperors controlled their image by controlling their representation on the coinage. Thiis coin is also interesting because some of Domitian titles are missing. The reason is that these had not been added by this point in his position as emperor. The use of COS VII dates this coin to the first month or so of his reign. Domitian. AR denarius (18.15 mm, 3.36 g, 7 h). Rome mint

Vespasian Denarius 69-79 CE

Vespasian ruled Rome for 10 years, and he was the last emperor in the year of the four emperors. His rule brought stability to the empire. He was famous for his military response to the Jewish revolt, and for the construction of the Flavian amphitheater. The looting of Jerusalem provided the funding for this building project. The colosseum was completed by his son Titus who became emperor after the death of Vespasian. The Flavian era had three emperors, Vespasian, his son Titus and his other son Domitian. While this coin is worn, please take note of the bare head of Vespasian. There are only 2 known coin types that feature Vespasian with a bare head, all others are laureate. For one coin typ



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