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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Personifications| ▸ |Generosity||View Options:  |  |  |   

Generosity (Liberalitas)

Liberalitas coin types attest to occasions when the emperor has displayed his generosity towards the people by a distribution to them of money, provisions, or both. The first mention of Liberalitas was on coins of Hadrian. It was a type frequently repeated by the succeeding emperors. Indeed these instances of imperial generosity are more carefully recorded on coins than they are by history. Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a counting board, or square tablet with a handle on which are cut a certain number of holes. These boards were used to quickly count the proper number of coins or other items for distribution to each person. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the prosperity of the state and the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries.

Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

|Antoninus| |Pius|, |Antoninus| |Pius,| |August| |138| |-| |7| |March| |161| |A.D.||aureus|
Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

A rare and interesting type. LIBERALITAS coins commemorate largesses, distributions of money to the people of Rome, usually made upon important events or the return of the emperor after a longer absence. This coin commemorates Antoninus' seventh Liberalitas, perhaps on the occasion of the birth of a son to Marcus and Faustina in 152.

RIC only lists a draped and cuirassed bust obverse, and describes the reverse as Liberalitas holding an account board and a rod. The description must be based on a poorly preserved specimen, as our coin (and others) clearly show a male holding a simple fasces (rods bundled with an axe as seen on the back of a U.S. dime). The other object should be regarded more as a banner, on which dots were painted equal to the number of aurei distributed to each citizen. Another theory suggests it is actually a wooden shovel, with shallow pits which was used to draw an exact number of coins from a chest. True or not, we think it would be great fun to shovel through thousands of aureii.
SH21931. Gold aureus, RIC III 229 var., Cohen II 520 var., Choice gVF, weight 7.276 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 152 - 153 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XVI, laureate bust right, very slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse LIBERALITAS VII COS IIII, Lictor, standing facing, head left, wearing cap and chlamys, fasces (rods bundled with an axe) in right, tessera in left; nice style, full circle centering on both obverse and reverse; very rare; SOLD


Pupienus, 22 April - 29 July 238 A.D.

|Pupienus|, |Pupienus,| |22| |April| |-| |29| |July| |238| |A.D.||sestertius|
A.D. 238 was the year of six emperors. Maximinus Thrax was killed (along with his son Maximus Caesar) when his soldiers mutinied. Gordian II was killed in battle. Gordian I hanged himself. Pupienus was lynched by his bodyguard. Balbinus was beaten and dragged naked through the streets of Rome before being killed by the Praetorians. Gordian III lived to become sole emperor.
SH58649. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV-1 14 (S), Cohen V 15, BMCRE VI 10, Hunter III 16, SRCV III 8531, VF, flan crack, weight 20.102 g, maximum diameter 31.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 22 Apr - 29 Jul 238 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M CLOD PVPIENVS AVG, Laureate and draped bust right; reverse LIBERALITAS AVGVSTORVM (the generosity of the Emperor), Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S - C divided across lower half of the field; scarce; SOLD


Macrinus, 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D.

|Macrinus|, |Macrinus,| |11| |April| |217| |-| |8| |June| |218| |A.D.||denarius|
Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a counting board, or square tablet with a handle on which are cut a certain number of holes. These boards were used to quickly count the proper number of coins or other items for distribution to each person. It appears they were held over a container, covered with coins and the excess swept away back into the container. The proper number of coins would fill the holes and then would be dumped out to the recipient. On coins this symbol indicated the prince had given to the people money, grain, or other articles of consumption. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries.
SH33746. Silver denarius, RIC IV 78, RSC III 41, superb EF, weight 4.106 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, obverse IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse LIBERALITAS AVG (the generosity of the Emperor), Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; sharp!; SOLD


Pupienus, 22 April - 29 July 238 A.D.

|Pupienus|, |Pupienus,| |22| |April| |-| |29| |July| |238| |A.D.||sestertius|
A.D. 238 was the year of six emperors. Maximinus Thrax was killed (along with his son Maximus Caesar) when his soldiers mutinied. Gordian II was killed in battle. Gordian I hanged himself. Pupienus was lynched by his bodyguard. Balbinus was beaten and dragged naked through the streets of Rome before being killed by the Praetorians. Gordian III lived to become sole emperor.
SH91233. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV-1 14 (S), Cohen V 15, BMCRE VI 10, Hunter III 16, SRCV III 8531, VF/F, black patina, scratches, reverse rough, weight 21.051 g, maximum diameter 30.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 22 Apr - 29 Jul 238 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M CLOD PVPIENVS AVG, Laureate and draped bust right; reverse LIBERALITAS AVGVSTORVM (the generosity of the Emperor), Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S - C divided across lower half of the field; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 76 (7 Apr 2019), part of lot 942; scarce; SOLD


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

|Hadrian|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.||denarius|
Liberalitas coin types attest to occasions when the emperor has displayed his generosity towards the people by a distribution to them of money, provisions, or both. The first mention of Liberalitas was on coins of Hadrian. It was a type frequently repeated by the succeeding emperors. Indeed these instances of imperial generosity are more carefully recorded on coins than they are by history.
SH33871. Silver denarius, RIC II-3 1105 (R2), BMCRE II 562 var. (no drapery), RSC II 919a (Vienna, drapery not certain), Strack II 345, Hunter II -, SRCV II -, nice VF, nice portrait, well centered, small edge splits, weight 3.105 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 129 - 130 A.D.; obverse HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, bust left, drapery (aegis?) on right shoulder; reverse LIBERALITAS AVG (the generosity of the Emperor) COS III P P, Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; very rare; SOLD


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

|Hadrian|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.||denarius|
Liberalitas coin types attest to occasions when the emperor has displayed his generosity towards the people by a distribution to them of money, provisions, or both. The first mention of Liberalitas was on coins of Hadrian. It was a type frequently repeated by the succeeding emperors. Indeed these instances of imperial generosity are more carefully recorded on coins than they are by history.
RS42471. Silver denarius, RIC II-3 1103 (R), RSC II 920, BMCRE II 559 var. (laureate), Strack II 345, Hunter II -, SRCV II -, EF, mint luster, well centered, nice style, small edge splits, weight 3.276 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 129 - 130 A.D.; obverse HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, bust right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse LIBERALITAS AVG COS III P P (the generosity of the Emperor, consul three times, father of the country), Liberalitas standing half-right, emptying cornucopia held in both hands; SOLD


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

|Severus| |Alexander|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.||denarius|
This interesting mint error mixes the legend LIBERTAS (liberty) with the figure of Liberalitas (generosity). Libertas usually hold a pileus and rod, symbols of liberty. On this coin, Liberalitas holds scales and a cornucopia, symbols of fairness and prosperity. A similar error coin in the Reka Devnia hoard has the legend LIBERITAS and Liberalitas holding an abacus (counting board) and cornucopia. The mint officials at Antioch apparently did not speak Latin and did not know the difference between the words and images of Libertas and Liberalitas.
SH60464. Silver denarius, cf. Reka Devnia p. 133 for similar error: LIBERITAS and Liberalitas holding abacus; RSC III 145a (refs RD coin), RIC IV 284 note (same), gVF, toned, crack, weight 3.372 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 223 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right from behind; reverse LIBERTAS AVG, Liberalitas standing left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left; not in sources consulted, perhaps unpublished; extremely rare; SOLD


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

|Hadrian|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.||sestertius|
The generosity and munificent largesses of Hadrian, after having been recorded many times on various coins and in diverse ways, are on the reverse of a first brass medal of great rarity, glorified altogether by the above splendid title, "The Benefactor of the World," a superlative the more remarkable, inasmuch as, neither before nor afterward, is it found conferred on any other emperor. -- Dictionary| of Roman| Coins|
RB72510. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC II 585b (R), BMCRE III 1194, Cohen II 950 var. (100 fr., no drapery), SRCV II 3609 var. (same), Hunter II - (lxi. note), F, rough, corrosion, flan crack, weight 21.705 g, maximum diameter 32.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 123 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG P M TR P COS III, laureate head right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse LOCVPLETATORI ORBIS TERRARVM (To the Benefactor of the world), Hadrian seated left on a platform, Liberalitas standing beside him pouring gifts from a cornucopia, two citizens standing before them, one extending the drapery of his toga to receive the munificence of the emperor, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; ex Morton & Eden auction 59 (13 - 14 Nov 2012), part of lot 957; ex Kenneth Edwin Day Collection; very rare; SOLD


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

|Septimius| |Severus|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.||denarius|
Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a counting board, or square tablet with a handle on which are cut a certain number of holes. These boards were used to quickly count the proper number of coins or other items for distribution to each person. It appears they were held over a container, covered with coins and the excess swept away back into the container. The proper number of coins would fill the holes and then would be dumped out to the recipient. On coins this symbol indicated the prince had given to the people money, grain, or other articles of consumption. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries.
SH47419. Silver denarius, RIC IV 182, RSC III 291, SRCV II -, EF, weight 3.260 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 202 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse LIB AVG III P M TR P X COS III P P, Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; rare; SOLD


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||denarius|
Julia Domna was born in Emesa (now Homs), Syria in 170 A.D. She was the youngest daughter of high-priest Julius Bassianus, a descendant of the Royal House of Emesa. Emesa was famous for its Temple of the Sun, the center of worship for the ancient pagan cult El-Gebal (or Elagabal). El-Gebal, worshiped in the form of a conical black stone, was the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God and means God of the Mountain. Emesa was also the birthplace of three other Roman empresses, Julia Maesa, Julia Mamaea and Julia Soaemias, and one emperor, Julia Domna's nephew, Elagabalus.
SH47755. Silver denarius, RIC IV S627 var. (spelling), SRCV II 6591 var. (same), VF, weight 2.628 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 0o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IVLA (sic) DOMNA AVG, draped bust right; reverse LIBERAL AVG, Liberalitas standing slightly left, polos or kalathos on head, counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; rare; SOLD




  




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