Titus as Caesar AR Denarius RIC 858 [Vespasian]
Titus as Caesar AR denarius 76 CE
Obv: T CAESAR IMP VESPASIAN; head laureate right
Rev: COS V; Bull standing right
RIC 858 [VESP], RSC 52, BMC 186 Var
Purchased from Brian Bucklan Bargain bin ancients January 23, 2020
There are a number of reverses on denarii of Vespasian and Titus that feature agrarian themes. Cows, bulls, goats, and pigs are all featured on these coins. This could be because the food supply was extremely important not only to feed the populace but to keep them happy. Emperors were only too keenly aware of what happens to them when the masses become unhappy. There is another type as well that features a modius of grain. In addition, Flavian denarii also feature deities such as CERES. This is where we get cereal from. However, there is another popular explanation. Vespasian had agrarian origins. Also, it is possible the reverse served both purposes-emphasizing Vespasian's agrarian roots and marking the important of the food supply.
I have seen 3 of these including this one for sale in the last few years. They are not extremely rare, but they are very elusive if you are trying to find one as I was. As a coin, I like it very much even though its flaws are obvious. I think it is an interesting agrarian type and I think the bull on the reverse has lots of charm. Unfortunately the obverse has little to recommend it.
RIC notes "Bull or cow" in the listing for this coin. On the coins I have seen some are obviously a bull and some are not and must therefore be cows. When you look at my coin above what do you see?