Galba, AD 68-69. Denarius, Spain (Tarraco ?), 68. AR 3.25 g.
Obv: GALBA - IMPERTOR Laureate head r., globe at point of bust.
Rev. VIRTVS Virtus, wearing short tunica, standing l., holding parazonium with her l. hand, on her outstretched r. hand Victoria with palm branch and wreath.
RIC 48a (R3) Supplementum Galbianum, Quaderni Ticinesi XII Numismatica E Antichita Classiche 1984. Cf. BMC 341, 194v.; BN III, 36, 34v.; C. 210; RIC 30var. (all with IMP on obv.). Very rare variant. Toned. Small chips on flan. Almost very fine Provenance: Auction UBS, Zurich 49 (2000), 365.
Ex: “The Galba Collection”
Hess Divo Auction 333, Lot 100 November 30, 2017
Hess Divo Auction 334 Lot 107 May 29, 2018
Here is another rare denarius of Galba. For a while I thought it was an unpublished variant. It did not appear in RIC 1 (1984).I have to thank Dr. Jryki Muona for supplying the correct reference for me. It appeared in a paper by Sutherland in 1984 entitled Supplementum Galbianum. In this paper several previously unpublished coins of Galba including mine were added. My coin type was given the reference number RIC 48a. Other information including corrections and further information is given in the paper. This coin does not occur in the major museum collections. There is one in the Oxford collection and this is the coin used in the paper cited above. There is one other that was auctioned in 2004 by Gorny & Mosch. I have been unable to find any further examples.
For me the most notable quality of this coin is not the rarity (it is R3: 6-10 examples known in the collections examines for RIC), it is the amazing portrait. I have 4 coins of Galba and not one of the portraits is close to any of the others. There is a remarkable variation in portraits on Galba's denarii, especially considering the short reign of the emperor.
Where was this coin minted? It has the globe at the terminus of the bust. This would seem to indicate Taracco in Spain. However, after some research I have discovered that other mints may have used the globe terminus. In other words, if there is no globe it was not minted in Taracco, if it has the globe it may be Taracco.
The reverse with Virtvs holding victory does appear on other coins of Galba. However, on the vast majority of these the legend "Vitvus" is on the left and not the right. I have seen 2 other types with "Virtvs" on the right. However, on one the bust has no globe terminus so it is not a Tarraco mint coin. On the other, the obverse legend is different and the coin is probably a product of the Carthage mint in Africa because of the distinctive portrait.
I am very happy to have acquired this coin. It is unusual, interesting, and has a great portrait as well as an interesting reverse.