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Domitian AR Denarius 88 CE RIC 596

Domitian AR Denarius Struck 88 CE (Third Issue)

(18.71mm 3.14 grams)

Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII, laureate head right Rev: COS XIIII - LVD SAEC FEC, Herald walking left, wearing feathered cap, holding wand and shield

RIC II 596, RSC 76/77, BMC 131

Ex FLAN Numismatics with tag. Ex Madroosi collection

Purchased from Marc Breitsprecher Feb 17, 2020

A worn but ver nice example of a Secular Games denarius struck in 88 CE. I have said elsewhere on this site that the Domitian denarii that were struck from 84-88 CE were the best as regards the quality of the portraiture. While I like this portrait it does not rise to quality of engraving i have seen on other denarii from this period.


Of course what is significant about this coin is the reverse.It features a herald with wand and shield. This reverse closely mimics a reverse for Augustus decades earlier. I have said before that the Flavians used reverse types from Augustus to promote the legitimacy of their rule. While this is true, there is another reason this reverse was used. The secular games held before Domitian's time were celebrated by Augustus in 17 CE. So this reverse had a double purpose.


Some of the secular games denarii for Domitian are very rare, this one is not. However that does not mean they are not sought after. The secular games denarii for Domitian are very sought after and bring very healthy prices at auction. One reason is that Domitian's denarii are dominated by Minerva reverses and many people find these boring. Of course that does not apply to myself. There are a number of Minerva denarii I actively pursue because there are minor differences that make the coins special including legend variations.


So, as I have said this coin is not strictly speaking rare. However, the demand the secular games denarii means that they are scarce in the market. One reason for this is the near total domination of Minerva on the reverse of Domitian's denarii. Many people are bored by them but I am not because there are gems to be had by the educated collector if one is alert to some of the small variation in these denarii including differences in the legends. If you would like one of these be prepared to face some strong competition from others who would like an interesting coin like this one.