top of page

Domitian AR Denarius 88 CE (Third Issue)

Domitian, as Augustus (AD 81-96). AR denarius

(19mm, 3.54 gm, 6h). NGC VF 5/5 - 4/5.

Rome, 3rd issue, AD 88.

Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII, laureate head of Domitian left

Rev: COS XIIII-LVD SAEC / FEC, herald advancing left, wearing feathered cap, wand outward in right hand, round shield in left.

RIC II.1 597. Extremely rare with left facing portrait.

Ex: Harlan Berk Vcoins 2005 cc50283. This coin was sold to Phil Peck in May 2007. Morris collection is the Heritage Auctions name for the Phil Peck collection.

2020 January 26 Ancient Coin Selections from the Morris Collection, Part III World Coins Monthly Online Auction #61151 Lot #97225.

Though I think all my coins are special, this one is truly one of most prized acquisitions. There are many reasons why this coin is special. As you can see from the photo the bust is left-facing. This is a rarity for Domitian denarii. I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for why these portraits are so rare for Domitian. Denarii of Vespasian and Titus are known with left-facing portraits. While some are rare, not all of them are. in addition, the bronze coinage of Domitian regularly features left-facing portraits. These do not appear in the market very often. If you do want one you need to grab one when you see it because it might take a while for the next one to appear.

This coin is not only desirable for the left-facing portrait, it also happens to be a Secular games issue. While the secular games issues are not rare, they are pursued by many collectors. I believe one of the reasons for this concerns the interesting reverse types. Anyone who collects the denarii of Domitian knows that the Minerva types dominate the denarii. Because many people think that the Minerva reverse are boring, when other reverses appear they are actively collected. So when you add together the rarity and the interesting reverse you get a collectible coin.

However, these are not the only reasons this coin is desirable. This coin was part of an advertised collection. The collection was auctioned off as the "Morris" collection over a series of auctions held by Heritage. The "Morris" collection was assembled by an individual collector. This collector bought the coin from Harlan Berk in 2007. This coin was a part of the stock of Harlan Berk in 2005. In "The Roman Imperial Coinage" by Carradice and Buttrey, The entry for RIC 597 references Berk 2005. Not only is this coin the reference coin it is pictured in the plates for the book. It is rare to find a RIC plate coin as many of these are in museum collections.

So to sum up, this coin features a left facing bust, an interesting reverse, has an excellent provenance, and is the RIC plate coin for this issue. All of these features together make this coin desirable.

bottom of page