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Very early Augustus issue of Titus 79 CE

Titus AR Denarius. Rome. 79 CE after July 1.

(18mm 3.19g)

Obv: Head laureate right; IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG PM

Rev: Capricorn left, globe below; TR P VIIII IMP XIIII COS VII

RIC 5; BMC P. 224 note; RSC 280a

Purchased from CGB ( July 1, 2021

The rarity ratings from RIC (2007) are not always accurate. This coin is an example of that. While rated as common, this one was the first I had seen for 5 years! Needless to say I bought it as soon as I saw it.

The Capricorn on the reverse was also used by Vespasian and was on the Titus as Caesar issues struck by Vespasian. The Capricorn was used by Augustus on his denarii decades earlier. Vespasian and Titus both used throwback reverses on their coinage. These homages to earlier issues served a propagandistic purpose. These coins connected the rule of the Flavian emperors to the glory days of Rome as represented by the reign of Augustus. In essence, the message was "Happy days are here again". In the case of this particular reverse, the Flavians knew that Augusutus was a very popular ruler, and they want that association.

What makes this coin both early and rare is the use of COS VII instead of the later and more common COS VII PP. In fact, this coin is the only denarius rated as common in the first 2 groups presented in RIC. If you want one of these watch out for dealer attribution errors. I have seen these early denarii misattributed as COS VII PP when the actual legend was COS VII. These coins are difficult to find with complete reverse legends.

The other reasons I wanted the coin include the excellent portrait of Titus looking very much like his father, and Capricorn reverse are just very cool and interesting.