Domitian AR Denarius 88 CE

Domitian AR Denarius Struck 88 CE (Third Issue)

(20 mm, 2.96 g)

Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII, laureate head right Rev: COS XIIII - LVD SAEC FEC, COS XIII across field Column inscribed LVD SAEC FEC, all within Laurel wreath.

RIC 604, RSC 70, BMC 137

Ex: Luc Corso collection

EX: CGB France Purchased February 17, 2020

This coin is a secular games issue. Domitian issued a series of reverse to mark the secular games held in 88 CE. Like Vespasian before him Domitian is casting back in time to a previous emperor. In this case it is Augustus. A denarius was struck under Augustus which looks much like the denarius above because it features an inscribed column. That is because the previous secular games were held under the rule of Augustus. So Domitian is calling back to the reign of Augustus to link his rule to a prestigious past, and using the secular games as an additional link to that past.

While not a rare coin this and other secular games issues are very popular. They tend to sell quickly and are not cheap at all. There are some rare secular games issues such as my RIC 597 also posted on this blog. Many people believe that Domitian's denarii are boring because they feature Minerva so prominently. One of the reasons why these issues are popular is that they feature reverses other than the 4 standard Minerva types. this means that there is much competition for these when they come to market.

Another reason I love this coin is the fantastic portrait on the obverse. The portraits of Domitian from 84-88 CE on the denarii are some of the best portraits for him that exist. Add a great portrait to a secular games issue and you have a desirable coin.