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Domitian "Snake cowboy"

EGYPT. Alexandria. Domitian, 81-96. Diobol

(25 mm, 7.42 g, 11 h),

Obv: RY 10 = 90/1. [ΑΥΤ] ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΔΟΜΙΤ [ϹЄΒ ΓЄΡΜ] Laureate head of Domitian to right, with aegis on his left shoulder.

Rev: L I Agathodaemon serpent riding horse to right.

Dattari (Savio) 563. Emmett 276.10. K&G 24.110. RPC II 2584A.

Extremely rare. Somewhat porous and with light deposits, otherwise, good fine. From a European collection, formed before 2005.

Leu Numismatic Web auction 17 Lot 2103 Sunday August 15, 2021

A few years ago, a friend of mine acquired one of these and called it the "Snake cowboy" coin. Just to get it out the way let me say that I would never understand how anyone could not want of these fascinating coins. There are many interesting Flavian coins struck in Alexandria and this is but one example. The portrait is not very interesting at all but that reverse...well that is a different story entirely. The snake is actually Agathadaemon and not an actual snake. The imagery here is meant to signify the importance of the harvest and of agriculture in general. Agrarian themes are common on the coins of many emperors because a hungry populace could be very dangerous for an emperor.

I know that this coin is quite worn, but sometimes it is necessary to accept a lower grade coin. This is especially true of rare coins such as this. A few have emerged in the last year or so and brought very strong prices regardless of condition. I have slowly been adding some Alexandrian coins from the Flavian dynasty because the reverses are interesting and many of these do not occur on the coins struck in Rome.

If you go looking for one of these be prepared for some competition. It is not just the Flavian collectors that will be interested. Those who collect interesting Alexandrian reverse types specifically, or those who just like Alexandrian coins in general will also pursue a coin like this.