Domitian as Caesar Denarius 79 to 24 June
Obv:Head laureate l; CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS COS VI
Rev: Salus stg r resting on column feeding snake out of patera; PRINCEPS IVVENTUTIS
RIC 1085 [Vespasian] BMC page 47 note. RSC 385.
Ex: Savoca Blue 19thauction April 21, 2019 Lot 1138
On first glance this looks like just another Domitian denarius and a very worn one at that. However, there is one large difference between this denarius and most other Domitian denarii-it has a left facing portrait. Left facing portraits occur on Domitian's bronze coins but for some unknown reason they are very rare on his silver coinage. Also, both Titus and Vespasian used left facing portraits on their denarii. Though in many cases these instances are rare they are not as generally rare as left facing denarii for Domitian. Again the reason is unknown. I have wanted a left facing Domitian denarius for a few years and finally found this one in a recent auction. Sometimes when you are chasing rarities condition becomes a secondary consideration. With some coins you have to ask yourself should I buy a coin in poorer condition or should I do without.
The other interesting fact about this denarius concerns the reverse. For coins minted when Domitian was Caesar there are several interesting reverses. One of these is the Salus reverse seen here. The reverse legend PRINCEPS IVVENTUTIS occurs on a number of different coins for Domitian as Caesar. Most of these are quite common, this one is an exception.
A friend of mine who also happens to be an expert on Flavian coins told me that it was good that I bought this one because I would probably be waiting a long time before another came available. I am very happy to have acquired this coin. It shall be an important part of my collection.