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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Twelve Caesars ▸ NeroView Options:  |  |  |   

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

Nero became emperor after his stepfather, the emperor Claudius, died (Claudius was probably poisoned by Nero's mother Agrippina II). At first, Nero ruled well, guided by his mentors Seneca and Burrus, but soon his reign degenerated into the debauchery and murder for which he is infamous. He had his mother, Burrus, Britannicus, and numerous senators and members of the nobility murdered or executed. Legend says he kicked Poppaea, his pregnant wife, to death. He was the first emperor to persecute Christians, blaming them for the Great Fire in 64 A.D. Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D after generals in Africa, Gaul, and Spain all rebelled, and the Praetorian Guard in Rome deserted him.


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Following tradition, when young Nero was elevated to princeps juventutis (prince of youth) in 51 A.D., the equestrian order (Roman knights) gave him a silver buckler (a small round shield) and lances. Coins depicting these traditional gifts were issued for Caius and Lucius, when they were designated princeps juventutis in the time of Augustus. Aurei and denarii with the same types were struck for Nero at Rome. Due to the rarity of the type and the lack of S C on the reverse, it was long believed this type was funded by the knights for distribution as gifts to attendees at the event where Nero was given his buckler and lances. In SNR 63 (1984), von Kaenel re-attributed this type to a Thracian mint. A few dozen examples are know and some, according to RPC I, were found in Thrace.
RB88176. Orichalcum sestertius, von Kaenel Thrakien, type A (unlisted dies); RIC I Claudius 108 (R4); BMCRE p. 195 note, pl. 37, 4; BnF II Claudius 288; Cohen I 99; see RPC I p. 311, aVF, dark brown near black patina, minor roughness, weight 26.001 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Balkan or Thracian mint, as caesar, 51 - 54 A.D.; obverse NERONI CLAVDIO DRVSO GERMANICO COS DESIG, bare headed and draped bust right; reverse EQVESTER / OR-DO / PRINCIPI / IVVENT in four lines on a buckler (small round shield), lance vertical behind; ex CNG e-sale 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 434; ex CNG e-sale 174 (10 Oct 2007), lot 204; ex CNG auction 67 (22 Sep 2004), lot 1316; ex Michael Weller Collection; very rare; $1620.00 (€1425.60)
 


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The reverse legend translates, "The gates of Janus' temple are closed because peace of the Roman people is set on both land and sea." On the rare occasions when Rome was not at war the doors of the 'Twin Janus' were ceremonially closed, an event Nero commemorated extensively on the coinage of 65 - 67 A.D. -- Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1 by David R. Sear
SH89524. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 438, BMCRE I 319, BnF I 73, Mac Dowall WCN 419, Cohen I 146, SRCV I 1958, Hunter I -, F/aF, brown fields with brassy high points, obverse slightly off center, beveled obverse edge (typical for this issue), weight 20.807 g, maximum diameter 35.3 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head right, globe at the point of the bust; reverse PACE P R TERRA MARIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT, view of the Temple of Janus from the front left corner, temple front on the right with garland over closed doors within arch, the left side of the temple to the left with long latticed window, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $300.00 (€264.00)
 


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Quadrantes, like quinarii, were issued only occasionally, perhaps exclusively for imperial distributions. Suetonius reported that, from the roof of the Basilica Julia "Caligula threw coins among the people." Perhaps this small coin was thrown to the crowd by the Nero himself at a similar event.
RB89528. Orichalcum quadrans, BMCRE I p. 258, 300 (same legend breaks); Mac Dowall WCN 342a; RIC I 258, BnF I 353; Cohen I 110; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, aEF, nice red and green patina, porosity, obverse slightly off center, weight 1.910 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAV CAE AVG 16, owl, with wings spread, standing facing on garlanded altar, snake winding up the right side of the altar; reverse GER P M TR P IMP P P, upright olive-branch, three tiny dots (mark of value) below, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $250.00 (€220.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., Perinthus, Thrace

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In 46 A.D., after the death of the Thracian king Rhoemetalces III and after an unsuccessful anti-Roman revolt, the Thracian Kingdom was annexed by Claudius as the Roman province of Thracia. Perinthus was made the capital of Roman Thracia. Although the denomination is uncertain, RPC I suggests it is a sestertius.
RP87197. Brass provincial sestertius, Schonert Perinthos 233 - 235; RPC I 1754; Varbanov III 20 (R4); Moushmov 4421; BMC Thrace p. 148, 13 var. (obv. leg.); SNG Cop -, F, dark patina, some porosity, central cavities, weight 20.839 g, maximum diameter 33.2 mm, die axis 0o, Heraclea Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, 63 - 9 Jun 68 A.D.; obverse NEPΩN KΛAY∆IOΣ KAIΣAP ΣEBAΣTOΣ, laureate head left; reverse ΠEPIN/ΘIΩN in two lines within oak wreath tied at the bottom; $215.00 (€189.20)
 


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The shield held by Victory is the golden shield that was dedicated to Augustus by the Senate and Roman People (S. P. Q. R.) in recognition of his classic, cardinal virtues. By placing the shield and Victory on his coin, Nero was claiming these same virtues were part of his regime. -- Roman History from Coins by Michael Grant
SH91200. Copper as, RIC I 543, BMCRE I 381, BnF II 160, Mac Dowall WCN 593, Hunter I 131, Cohen I 302, SRCV I -, aVF, nice green patina, nice portrait, some porosity, bumps and marks, weight 10.709 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 66 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVG P MAX TR P P P, laureate head right, globe at point of neck; reverse Victory flying left, shield inscribed S P Q R in right hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking high across field; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Ptolemy Soter wanted to integrate the Hellenistic and Egyptian religions by finding a deity that could win the reverence of both groups. The Greeks would not accept an animal-headed figure, so a Greek-style anthromorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis. It was named Aser-hapi (i.e. Osiris-Apis), which became Serapis, and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka (life force). Ptolemy's efforts were successful - in time Serapis was held by the Egyptians in the highest reverence above all other deities, and he was adored in Athens and other Greek cities.
RX91486. Billon tetradrachm, Kampmann 14.84; Geissen 170; Dattari 253; Milne 226; BMC Alexandria p. 19, 157; RPC I 5281; Kampmann 14.84; Emmett 133 (R1), gVF, old collection toning, well centered, highest points flat, few spots of corrosion, weight 12.522 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 64 - 28 Aug 65 A.D.; obverse NEPΩ KΛAV KAIΣ ΣEB GEP, radiate head right; reverse AYTOKPA, draped bust of Serapis right, wearing polos, LIA (year 11) right; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., Cyzicus, Mysia, Poppaea or Statilia Messalina Reverse

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RPC I notes, "although certainty is not at the moment possible (because of the small size and relatively poor preservation of the coins), the portrait of Nero seems to be the "steps" portrait, introduced in 63. If so, the bust should be that of Poppaea (or possibly Statilia Messalina)." In 62 A.D., Nero divorced Octavia and married Poppaea. In the summer of 65, Nero and Poppaea quarreled. She was pregnant. In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, killing her. Statilia Messalina was already Nero's mistress. After Poppaea's death, Nero forced Statilia's husband to commit suicide, so he could marry her. Statilia kept a low profile in public and survived the fall of his reign. After Nero's death, Otho promised to marry her, before his suicide in 69.
RP85905. Bronze AE 16, RPC I 2249 (3 spec.), BMC Mysia -, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG Tübingen -, Lindgren -, aF, green patina, weight 3.390 g, maximum diameter 15.8 mm, die axis 0o, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 63 - 65 A.D.; obverse NEPΩN (counterclockwise on right), bare head of Nero right, ΦY monogram behind; reverse K-Y-Z (K over Z in left field, Z appearing as I, Y in right field), draped bust of empress right; only one specimen on Coin Archives; extremely rare; $125.00 (€110.00)
 


Nero and Poppaea, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Poppaea was renowned for her beauty and voluptuous extravagance. In 62 A.D., Nero divorced his wife Octavia to marry Poppaea. According to Tacitus, Poppaea married Otho only to get close to Nero and then, in turn, became Nero's favorite mistress, and then wife. She bore Nero one daughter, Claudia Augusta, born 21 January 63, who died at only four months of age. At the birth of Claudia, Nero honored mother and child with the title of Augusta. According to Suetonius, one day in the summer of 65, Poppaea quarreled fiercely with Nero over his spending too much time at the races. She was pregnant with her second child. In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, killing her.
RX91478. Billon tetradrachm, RPC I 5282; Geissen 168; Kampmann 14.85; Milne 223; Curtis 143; BMC Alexandria p. 16, 124; SRCV I 2002, VF, well centered, reverse double strike, some porosity, minor flan flaw, edge cracks, weight 11.818 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 64 - 65 A.D.; obverse NERΩ KΛAV KAIΣ ΣEB ΓEP AV, radiate head right; reverse ΠOΠΠAIA ΣEBAΣTH, draped bust of Poppaea right, date L IA right (year 11); from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $110.00 (€96.80)
 


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C. Howgego suggests that this might belong with the Thracian group of Neronian coins in Latin (RPC I 1758 ff.).
RP91898. Bronze semis, RPC I Supplement (online) S2-I-5487 (4 spec.), RIC I -, Cohen I -, BMCRE I -, BnF I -, aF, weight 3.052 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain (Perinthus, Thrace?) mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR, bare head right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVSTI (the victory of the Emperor), Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; very rare; $90.00 (€79.20)
 


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C. Howgego suggests that this might belong with the Thracian group of Neronian coins in Latin (RPC I 1758 ff.).
RP87433. Bronze semis, RPC I Supplement (online) S2-I-5487 (4 spec.), RIC I -, Cohen I -, BMCRE I -, BnF I -, aF, nice green patina, minor pitting, weight 4.079 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain (Perinthus, Thrace?) mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR, bare head right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVSTI (the victory of the Emperor), Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; very rare; $80.00 (€70.40)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMAXTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMAXTRPPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPONTMAXTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGVSTVS
NEROCAESAR
NEROCAESARAVGGERMIMP
NEROCAESARAVGIMP
NEROCAESARAVGVSTVS
NEROCAESAVGIMP
NEROCLAVCAEAVGGER
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMANI
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMP
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLAVDCAESDRVSVSGERMPRINCIVVENT
NEROCLAVDDIVICLAVDFCAESARAVG
NEROCLAVDDIVICLAVDFCAESARAVGGERMANI
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMA
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMANIC
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLDIVIFCAESAVGPMTRPII
NERONERONICLAVDIODRVSOGERMCOSDESIGN
NERONICLAVDIODRVSOGERMCOSDESIGN


REFERENCES

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, & P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Clay, C. "Münzprägung des Kaisers Nero" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 96 (1982), pp. 7 - 17.
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon, De Claude Ier à Vespasien (41-78 après J.-C.), et au temps de Clodius Albinus (196-197 après J.-C.). (Wetteren, 2000).
Giard, J-B. Bibliothèque National Catalogue Monnaies de L'Empire Romain II: De Tebère à Néron. (Paris, 1988).
King, C. Roman Quinarii from the Republic to Diocletian and the Tetrarchy. (Oxford, 2007).
Mac Dowall, D. The Western Coinages of Nero. ANSNNM 161. (New York, 1979).
Mac Dowall, D. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68" in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 1: Augustus to Vitellius. (London, 1923).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sutherland, C. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. I, From 39 BC to AD 69. (London, 1984).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
von Kaenel, H.-M. "Britannicus, Agrippina Minor und Nero in Thrakien" in SNR 63 (1984).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, July 17, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Nero