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Vespasian AR Denarius 69-70 CE

Vespasian AR denarius, Rome mint, c. 21 Dec 69 - early 70 A.D.;

Obv: Laureate head right; IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG,;

Rev: Judaea or Jewess seated right on ground at foot of palm tree behind her, her hands bound behind and tied to the tree, IVDAEA in exergue;

RIC 4

This coin is part of the Westbury Sub Mendip hoard of 188 Roman silver denari, found during 2016 by a metal detectorist

Ex: Silbury Coins


If you have been reading the previous posts on this blog for a while you will probably recognize this coin type that I already own. You would be correct. The first one I bought is encapsulated and was purchased from Forum Ancient Coins (highly recommended). So why have 2? Well, I would be tempted to buy everyone of these that became available. Yes, it is a highly desirable Judea Capta type, but it is more unusual than that. Take a look at the reverse. Instead of the trophy of arms that appears on the ubiquitous RIC 2, this type (RIC 4) features a palm tree instead.


There is however, another unusual feature of this coin. Does the portrait look like Vespasian to you? Not to me. It looks very much like his predecessor Vitellius. It took some time for Vespasian to reach Rome after becoming emperor so the engravers had to guess at what he looked like. The very early denarii of Vespasian often have these Vitellian portraits, but these are quite scarce on this issue in particular.


Yet another reason to want this coin has to do with the provenance. This coin is part of the Westbury sub-Mendip hoard. I love owning hoard coins because you can trace it back to the ground out came from. This is not true for the majority of ancient coins. This adds to the story of the coin for me.


I love the portrait, and I love that you can see the rope that binds the personification of Judea on the reverse. There is another reason to love this coin. If you search for either RIC 2 or RIC 4, you will see that many of these Judea Capta denarii do not have the full spelling of IVDAEA on the reverse in the exergue. I also like that this is extremely clear on this denarius. If you see one of these become available and you would like to add one to your collection, do not hesitate. This coin type is extremely popular even with non-collectors because of the biblical connection. It is a historically fascinating type.