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Galba AR Denarius

Galba, 68-69 Denarius Tarraco (?) April to late 68, AR

19mm., 3.33g.

Obv: SER GALBA IMP CAESAR AVG PM TR P; Laureate head r.

Rev. SPQR / OB / C-S within oak wreath.

C 288. RIC 62.(R2) From the M.J. Collection.

Ex: Naville Numismatics Live auction 49 Lot 439 May 12, 2019.

Coin depicted in the database

The portrait is the reason I bought this coin. The coinage of Galba contains some of the most interesting portraits on Roman Imperial coins. This is particularly true of the Spanish mint denarii of Galba. These portraits have been called ugly, strange, unusual and bizarre and I cannot disagree with any of these descriptors. In addition I find them interesting as well. In fact the range of portrait styles across the denarii of Galba is nothing short of amazing given the shortness of his rule.

The reverse is far less interesting in my opinion, but it does call for an explanation. SPQR is the senate and people of Rome. OB C S stands for Ob Cives Servatos -for saving the lives of the citizens. Just how Galba saved the citizens on this occasion is unknown.

I love finding these unusual denarii to add to my collection. Also, it should be noted that this reverse also appears on other denarii of Galba (RIC 167 for example), and on denarii of other emperors before Galba. This includes both Augustus and Claudius. Is it possible that one of the uses of this reverse of Galba was to deliberately hearken back to the Julio-Claudian dynasty in order to solidify his legitimacy as emperor?

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