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

Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

After a successful campaign in Judaea (which he left to his son Titus to finish), Flavius Vespasianus was declared emperor by his troops at Alexandria in 69 A.D. Upon the defeat of Vitellius by the Danubian legions, Vespasian went to Rome and consolidated his power. He built the Colosseum and other important public works. Vespasian was popular, being both down to earth and possessed of great wit. He was responsible for the economic and military recovery of Rome and is justly regarded as one of the greatest Roman emperors.


Vespasian the Younger, Caesar, 94 - 95 A.D., Smyrna, Ionia

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In 94 A.D., because he had no heir, Domitian adopted his two young great-nephews. He renamed them Vespasian and Domitian. The next year he executed the boys' father, his cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, and exiled the boys' mother, his niece, Flavia Domitilla. They were charged with Atheism, a charge sometimes applied to condemn converts to Judaism or Christianity. The boys then disappeared from history and their fate is unknown.

Smyrna was the only city to strike coins in the name of Vespasian the Younger. No coins were struck for his brother.

Some scholars connect Domitilla with a Roman Matron in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) and the Deuteronomy Rabbah 2.25. When the emperor had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, the Roman matron convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. If that identification is correct, her husband Flavius Clemens converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Flavia Domitilla is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
SH83453. Bronze AE 16, Klose p. 244, 3, pl. 31 (V1/R1); RPC II 1028; SNG Cop 1360; SNGvA 2208; BMC Ionia p. 276, 320, gF/F, weight 2.790 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna mint, as caesar, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse OYOCΠACIANOC NEΩTEPOC, bare head right; reverse ZMYPNAIΩN, Nike standing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Solidus Numismatik, auction 7, lot 200; rare; $1170.00 (€1041.30)
 


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The caduceus, the traditional symbol of Hermes featuring two snakes around an often winged staff, is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine, instead of the Rod of Asclepius. The caduceus appeared on the chevrons of U.S. Army hospital stewards as early as 1856 and was formally adopted by the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902 and added to the uniforms of medical officers. Even the American Medical Association used the symbol for a time. In 1912, after considerable discussion, the caduceus was abandoned by the AMA and the rod of Asclepius was adopted instead. The U.S. military medical corps all now also use the more appropriate rod of Asclepius. The caduceus is a symbol of peace.
RS85546. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 703; RSC II 362; BMCRE II 138; BnF III 113; SRCV I 2299, VF, toned, centered on a tight flan, light scratches, weight 3.221 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 74 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TR P COS V PON MAX (tribune of the people, consul for the 5th time, high priest), winged caduceus; from the Lucas Harsh collection; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


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Vesta was the Roman goddess of the hearth (home) and, derived from that, was important for the security of the state (homeland). Vespasian may have been especially devoted to Vesta because he was brought up by his grandmother in home that he loved and appreciated. Suetonius wrote, "He was brought up under the care of his paternal grandmother Tertulla on her estates at Cosa. Therefore, even after he became emperor he used constantly to visit the home of his infancy, where the manor house was kept in its original condition, since he did not wish to miss anything which he was wont to see there; and he was so devoted to his grandmother's memory that on religious and festival days he always drank from a little silver cup that had belonged to her." With his coinage dedicated to Vesta, Vespasian expressed his respect for home and hearth, and his dedication to security of the state.
SL85101. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 50; RSC II 574; BMCRE II 71; BnF III 55; SRCV I 2316, ANACS VF35 (5163464), Rome mint, 72 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII, laureate head right; reverse Vesta standing left, simpulum in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, VES-TA across field; certified (slabbed) by ANACS; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


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In the Roman Republic, and Empire, the curule chair (sella curulis, supposedly from currus, "chariot") was the seat upon which magistrates holding imperium were entitled to sit. This includes dictators, magistri equitum, consuls, praetors, censors, curule aediles, and the promagistrates, temporary or de facto holders of such offices. Additionally, the Flamen of Jupiter (Flamen Dialis) was also allowed to sit on a curule seat, though this position did not hold imperium. Livy writes that the three flamines maiores or high priests of the Archaic Triad of major gods were each granted the honor of the curule chair.
SH70290. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 6 (R); RSC II 541a; BMCRE II p. 8, 46; BnF III -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, F, toned, tight flan, flan crack, weight 3.296 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1st issue, 21 Dec 69 - early 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TITVS ET DOMITIAN CAESARES PRIN IV, Titus and Domitian seated left, side by side on curule chairs, each holding a laurel branch in extended right hand; rare; $155.00 (€137.95)
 


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Spes was the Roman personification of Hope. In art Spes is normally depicted carrying flowers or a cornucopia, but on coins she is almost invariably depicted holding a flower in her extended right hand, and raising a fold of her dress with her left hand. She was also named "ultima dea" - for Hope is the last resort of men.
RB84861. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 894; BMCRE II 725, BnF III 757, Cohen I 457, Hunter I C3852, SRCV I -, VF, reverse rough and smoothed, weight 11.521 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 76 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESP AVG COS VII, laureate head right; reverse Spes standing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


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In 75 A.D., the Temple of Peace was built in Rome to celebrate the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 and house the Menorah and other sacred objects from Herod's Temple. A representation of the menorah is depicted in a frieze on the Arch of Titus. According to the Torah, the menorah was hammered from pure gold following the design God revealed to Moses. The menorah was looted by the Vandals in the sacking of Rome in 455, and taken to their capital, Carthage. According to Procopius, the Byzantine General Belisarius recovered it when he defeated the Vandals in 533 and it was carried through the streets of Constantinople during his triumph. Procopius adds that it was later sent back to Jerusalem, after which there is no further record of it. The menorah might have been destroyed when the Persians pillaged Jerusalem in 614.
RS85128. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 772; RSC II 366; BMCRE II 161; BnF III 139; Hunter I 51; SRCV I 2301, F, centered on a tight flan, a little rough, struck with a worn reverse die, edge crack, weight 3.220 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 75 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG (counterclockwise), laureate head right; reverse PON MAX TR P COS VI (high priest, tribune of the people, consul for the 6th time), Pax seated left, extending olive branch in right hand, left hand at side; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Caesarea, Cappadocia

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Kayseri, Turkey was originally named Mazaca. It was renamed Eusebia by Ariarathes V Eusebes, King of Cappadocia, 163 - 130 B.C. The last king of Cappadocia, King Archelaus, renamed it "Caesarea in Cappadocia" to honor Caesar Augustus upon his death in 14 A.D. Muslim Arabs slightly modified the name into Kaisariyah, which became Kayseri when the Seljuk Turks took control, c. 1080 A.D.
RP85311. Silver drachm, RPC II 1636 (6 spec.); Sydenham Cappadocia 96; Metcalf Conspectus p. 94, 7; BMC Galatia -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, aF, marks and scratches, weight 2.536 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Cappadocia, Caesarea (Kayseri, Turkey) mint, c. 73 - 74 A.D.; obverse AYOKPA KAICAP OVECΠACIANOC CEBACTOC, laureate head right; reverse ETOYC EKTOY (year 6), Mount Argaeus surmounted by a statue of figure standing facing, radiate, globe in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; very rare; $95.00 (€84.55)
 


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On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RS70291. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 21; RSC II 94a; BMCRE II 17; BnF III 10; SRCV I 2284, VF, excellent portrait, toned, well centered on a tight flan, small edge cracks, weight 3.231 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER TR POT, Aequitas standing left, scales in right hand, scepter transverse in left; $90.00 (€80.10)
 


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This coin may have been struck to appeal to Pax to deliver peace at the time the First Jewish Revolt was coming to its end. On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RS70310. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 29; RSC II 94h; BMCRE II 26; BnF III 17; Hunter I 14; SRCV I 2285, F, toned, weight 3.226 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left on chair without back, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left hand; $90.00 (€80.10)
 


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In the spring 73 A.D., the Roman governor Lucius Flavius Silva laid siege to Masada, the last outpost of the Jewish rebels. The Roman army (Legio X Fretensis) surrounded the mountain fortress with a 7-mile long siege wall and built a rampart of stones and beaten earth against the western approach. Under the leadership of Eleazar ben Ya'ir, 960 Zealots committed mass suicide when defeat became imminent.
RS70418. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 546; RSC II 387; BMCRE II 98; BnF III 86; SRCV I 2305, gF, excellent portrait, toned, weight 3.227 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 73 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESP AVG CENS, laureate head right; reverse PONTIF MAXIM (high priest), Vespasian seated right on seat without back, feet on footstool, long scepter vertical behind in right, olive branch in left; $90.00 (€80.10)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

CAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
DIVVSAVGVSTVSVESPASIANVS
DIVOAVGVESPSPQR
DIVOVESPASIANO
IMPCAESARAVGVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSII
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSVTRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIAN
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSTRP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESARVESPAVG
IMPCAESARVESPAVGCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPAVGVST
IMPCAESVESPASAVG
IMPCAESVESPASAVGPMTRPPPCSIII
IMPCAESVESPASAVGTRPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIIIPP
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPASCOSIIICENS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGPMTPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIIICEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTPCOSIIIICENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPIIIIPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASAVGPMTRIPPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASIANAVG
IMPVESPAVG
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIPP
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIIIPP
TCAESVESPASIANIMPPTRPCOSII


REFERENCES

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Burnett, A. & M. Amandry. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Butcher, Kevin. Coinage in Roman Syria: Northern Syria, 64 BC - AD 253. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 34. (London, 2004).
Calicó, E. Xavier. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Carradice, I.A. & T.V. Buttrey. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II, Part 1: From AD 69 to 96. (London, 2007).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. I: De Pompeyo Magno a Matidia (Del 81 a.C. al 117 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
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, Jean-Baptiste. Monnaies de l'Empire romain, III Du soulèvement de 68 après J.-C. a Nerva. Catalogue Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 1998).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 2: Vespasian to Domitian. (London, 1930).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Monday, September 25, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Vespasian