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Domitian AR Cistophorus 95 CE

Domitian AR Cistophorus 95 CE

(26mm 6h)

Obv: laureate head of Domitian right; IMP CAES DOMITIANVS

Rev: Distyle temple inscribed ROM ET AVG containing figure of Augustus, standing facing, spear in right hand, being crowned with right hand by female figure of Roma (on right), cornucopia in left hand

RIC 854

2020 September 9-10 Wednesday & Thursday World & Ancient Coins Weekly Online Auction #232037 Lot #62175


Until this purchase I had no Cistophori of Domitian. I bought one for Titus a while ago but had not found a Domitian example that I liked. I saw this one and decided to try to get it. This is a very rare coin. There are types of Cistophori for Domitian that are quire common, but not this one. A cistophorus is a large silver coin (over 10g), with a value of 3 denarii. Funny thing is I won this coin for about the price of 3 ordinary Domitian denarii. A nice bit of synergy there. This coin was graded vf. If you watch the Heritage auctions you will notice a pattern very quickly. Anything graded AU or MS will sell for very high prices with much competition among bidders. However, coins like this which are below those grades often go unnoticed. This presents certain opportunities to the careful collector. If you know your approximate values for the coins you are seeking you can sometimes get a real bargain while others are fighting among themselves after the AU and MS coins.


When I first saw this example I was captivated by the portrait. It is a rather sympathetic portrait for a ruler that would be dead not long after this coin was struck. However, the reverse was what captured the most of my attention. There is a cistophorus of Clavdivs with the same reverse. They Flavians often used reverse types from earlier emperors. It is not mistake that Avgvstvs is featured on the reverse. The message to the citizens is clear; the Flavian emperors are the rightful inheritors of the empire from those who went before. The other message is that the citizens can expect the same prosperity and good rule that happened in these earlier golden days of Rome.On the reverse you can see Roma crowning Avgvstvs. The implication is that the successful and hearty spirit of Rome is also crowning Domitian. Who would not love such a blatant yet beautiful piece of propaganda.

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