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Vespasian AR Denarius 74 CE

Vespasian (69-79). AR Denarius Rome. 74 CE

(18mm 3.07g)

Obv: Laureate head right; IMP CAES VESP AVG

Rev: COS V; 2 upright laurel trees.

RIC 681

Savoca 31st Blue Auction April 26, 2020. Lot 952

I have been looking for an example of this coin for quite some time. It is a desirable type for Flavian collectors. The reverse is an homage to an Augustus denarius from decades before. It is quite common for Vespasian coins to use earlier coin types as inspiration. I know the coin is worn, but it is also difficult to find. This coin did not seem to attract much interest in the auction. I was interested the moment I saw it several weeks ago.

I like the unusual reverse types for Vespasian and his sons. Some people may find the coinage of these 3 a bit monotonous but on the contrary I find the coinage to be fascinating. By using a reverse that the Roman people would recognize Vespasian is calling back to an earlier era. In this case he is recalling the glory of the rule of Augustus. This coin is a propaganda device. By recalling Augustus Vespasian is making the case that this past days have come again and that it was he who brought this about.

Coins as propaganda is one of the many reasons I find ancient coins fascinating. They give us a snapshot of a moment in history. In a sense they connect us to the past.