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Vespasian AR Denarius 70 CE

Vespasian. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 19; RSC II 84; BMCRE II 7; BnF III 7; Cohen I 84 (2f.); SRCV I -, aF, unusual portrait (resembling Vitellius?), bumps and scratches, uneven patina, Rome mint, weight 2.971g, maximum diameter 18.5mm, die axis 180o, c. Jan - Jun 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER FORT RED, Fortuna standing left, resting right hand on acrostolium of galley left at feet on left, cornucopia in left hand; very rare.

This is a rough coin. The reason I wanted it was the Vitellius like portrait of Vespasian. Vespasian did not appear in Rome for months after his accession to the throne of Rome. The celators who engraved the images for the coins had to wait for some time to get an accurate likeness of the new emperor. In the meantime they had to guess. The result is that there are early portraits of Vespasian that look very much like Vitellius instead. Take a look on this blog for my RIC 27. That coin has the most Vitellius looking portrait I have ever seen for Vespasian. For another impression, take a look at my Vespasian RIC 29. It may look like some Roman emperor but that emperor is not Vespasian.

The first year portraits are really interesting because they give us a glance into the inner workings of the mint. We can see their attempts on the coins to represent a new Roman emperor that the mint workers had never seen.

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