A common left-facing portrait for Vespasian

Vespasian 77-78

AR Denarius

(17.79mm 3,19 g.)

Obv: Laureate head r; IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG

Rev: Mars standing l with spear and trophy; COS - VIII RIC 938; RSC 126; BMC 202

Purchased from Marc Breitsprecher June 13, 2021


While this is a common coin, many left facing denarii for Vespasian are definitely not so it pays to attribute these coins correctly. These Mars revers types come in 2 types: with and without a grain ear to the right of Mars. The reverse with the grain ear is rare for both right and left-facing portraits. The first of the series is RIC 937, which is the same as the coin above except for the direction of the portrait. This coin is RIC 938. RIC 939 is right-facing and with the grain ear and RIC 940 is left-facing with grain ear.


While this coin was the last to be acquired it is much more common than the grain er reverse (RIC 939 and RIC 940).I try to pick up these grain ear types when I can. I have three examples of RIC 939, and yes it is a rare coin. However, I have only seen 2 or 3 RIC 940 examples (with the grain ear and left-facing portrait) in the last several years.


The coin above has a worn reverse but the portrait is actually very nice. There are coins of Titus that share this portrait style. In fact these Mars types also exist for Titus. These coins are RIC 948 and RIC 949. I do not have RIC 948 (without grain ear), but I do have RIC 949 (with grain ear). While RIC does not list left-facing types for these Mars reverse of Titus. It would not surprise me if they showed up in the future.