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Vespasian AR Denarius 70 CE

Vespasian AR Denarius (70 CE Jan-June)

Weight: 2.95 g17.5 mm

Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head of Vespasian right

Rev: COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left, holding olive branch and caduceus

RIC 29 RSC 94h

Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics on Vcoins June 16, 2019

Believe it or not, the portrait on this coin is supposed to be Vespasian. To me this looks nothing like Vespasian. This has to be one of the very earliest coins struck for Vespasian. The story is that after Vespasian's acclamation as emperor he was nowhere near Rome. Still, coins had to be struck. The engravers would not have access to a model of Vespasian for some months after his acclamation. It look like they just executed their best guess as to what the new emperor looked like.

There are other examples of this on the coins of Vespasian. Elsewhere on this site I posted an example of RIC 27 where the portrait looks remarkably like Vitellius instead of Vespasian. It would take some time before the portraits on the coins of Vespasian actually resembled Vespasian.

I bought this coin for the unusual portrait. I also think the toning is very attractive. The striking portrait made this coin a must have. The portrait on this coin is very similar to the example in the British Museum collection.

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