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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Adoptive Emperors ▸ TrajanView Options:  |  |  |   

Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a brilliant general and administrator, was adopted and proclaimed emperor by the aging Nerva in 98 A.D. Regarded as one of Rome's greatest emperors, Trajan was responsible for the annexation of Dacia, the invasion of Arabia and an extensive and lavish building program across the empire. Under Trajan, Rome reached its greatest extent. Shortly after the annexation of Mesopotamia and Armenia, Trajan was forced to withdraw from most of the new Arabian provinces. While returning to Rome to direct operations against the new threats, Trajan died at Selinus in Cilicia.Roman Dominions in the Time of Trajan


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SH30319. Gold aureus, Woytek 525t+-12 var. (no stops, same rev. die), Calicó 1025 var. (same), RIC II 320, Cohen II 152, BMCRE III 576 var. (globe under bust), Choice VF, elegant bust type, nice style, excellent strike, weight 7.224 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 114 - 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate bust right, bare chest, wearing aegis visible front and back; reverse FORT RED P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; very scarce; SOLD


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SH30330. Gold aureus, Woytek 525, Calico 1026, RIC II 319, BMCRE III 569, Cohen II -, Choice EF, well centered and struck on a full broad flan, nice style, minor scratches, weight 7.355 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse FORT RED P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; SOLD


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This is an extremely rare heroic bust variety of a scarce type. There is only one auction record on Coin Archives for this variety: NAC Auction 59 (4 Apr 2011), lot 968 (a beautiful near EF example). It sold for $48,717 including fees.
SH73454. Orichalcum sestertius, Woytek 203q+2 (same obv die), RIC II 535 (S, no belt), BMCRE III 838 var. (no belt), BnF IV 565 var. (no belt), VF, well centered, high relief bust, Tiber patina, porous, areas of corrosion, weight 25.631 g, maximum diameter 34.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 104 - 107 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust left, full chest exposed, with drapery on left shoulder, military belt (balteus) across chest; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Trajan in military dress on horseback right, thrusting spear at Dacian warrior trampled and falling under fore-hooves, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; extremely rare variety; SOLD


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Fortuna (equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) goddess of fortune, was the personification of luck. Fortuna Redux brought one safely home, in this case the emperor. The Romans believed that Fortuna, after deserting the Persians and Assyrians, took flight over Macedonia and saw Alexander perish as she passed into Syria and Egypt. At last arriving on Mount Palatine, she threw aside her wings and casting away her wheel (the wheel of fortune), entered Rome where she took up her abode forever.
SH91180. Gold aureus, SRCV II 3092 (same dies), Woytek 525f-1, RIC II 319, BMCRE III 569, Calico I 1026, BnF IV 805, Cohen II 153, Strack 235, Hunter II 186, Choice gVF, some mint luster, well centered, handsome portrait, flow lines, some light marks, weight 7.203 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, late 114 - beginning 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, holding rudder by tiller in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, FORT RED in exergue; ex Malter auction XLVII (4 Feb 1992), lot 359; SOLD


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The wreath on the reverse is the corona civica, the oak wreath awarded to Roman citizens ex senatus consulto (by special decree of the Senate) for saving the life of another citizen by slaying an enemy in battle. It became a prerogative for Roman emperors to be awarded the Civic Crown, originating with Augustus, who was awarded it in 27 B.C. for saving the lives of citizens by ending the series of civil wars.
SH87508. Gold aureus, Woytek 224f, RIC II 150, BMCRE III 253, Cohen II 581, BnF IV 368, Hunter II 85, Calicó 1121, SRCV II -, aVF, well centered, excellent portrait with high relief, bumps, scratches, weight 6.886 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 103 - 111 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI ([Awarded by] the senate and the Roman people, [to the] best of princes) in three lines within oak wreath; scarce; SOLD


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"The Roman Emperor Trajan, being of an impetuous and active temperament, seemed to be filled with resentment that his realm was not unlimited, but was bounded by the Ister River [Danube]. So he was eager to span it with a bridge that he might be able to cross it and that there might be no obstacle to his going against the barbarians beyond it.." Procopius of Caesarea, Buildings (IV.6.12).

The bridge, depicted on Trajan's Column, was constructed by the master-builder, Apollodorus of Damascus, with wooden arches set on twenty masonry pillars, about 1135 meters long where the river about 800 meters wide. Each gateway was protected by a castrum. Procopius tells us that during construction the river was diverted and about half of the pillars were built on dry land. Cassius Dio tells us that Hadrian removed the wooden arches to protect Moesia from northern invasions. Since Dacia continued to be a province for about the next 150 years, the bridge must have been rebuilt. Aurelian likely demolished it when he abandoned Dacia. In 1856, when the Danube was at a record low, all twenty pillars were seen out of the water. In 1906 two were demolished to ease navigation. In 1982 archaeologists could only find the remains of twelve pillars. Both end pillars are still standing on the Serbian and Romanian shores.
SH32823. Orichalcum sestertius, SRCV II 3207, RIC II 569, Cohen II 542, Choice VF, weight 25.790 g, maximum diameter 35.3 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 105 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust right, from behind, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI, arched single-span bridge over river, covered walkway separated by vertical bars and middle curved line, each gateway surmounted by statuary, right one with flight of steps; boat over S C (senatus consulto) below; SOLD


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The obverse bust is in sculptural relief, quite different than a regular Trajan sestertius. Bernard Woytek's recent study of the coinage of Hadrian cites only five specimens. He includes a note reiterating Toynbee's classification of them as "medallic coins" that seem to employ medallion dies (although this obverse die is apparently unknown for a medallion), or at the very least were intended as to give the coins a medallic look.
SH63645. Orichalcum medallic sestertius, Toynbee pl. 20, 10; Woytek 338u; BMCRE III 811A; RIC II 519; Cohen II 459; SRCV II 3200; Cayon -, VF, obverse die of particularly fine style, weight 21.846 g, maximum diameter 33.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 109 - 110 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate and draped half-bust right, wearing aegis; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Spes advancing left, raising flower in right hand, raising drapery with left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; very rare; SOLD


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In 116, Trajan completed his invasion of Parthia by capturing the cities of Seleucia, Babylon, Ctesiphon and Susa, marking the high-water mark of the Roman Empire's eastern expansion. Trajan made Syria a Roman province and crossed the Tigris to annex Adiabene. He proceeded with his army to the Persian Gulf and conquered territory that became the province of Parthia. This coin was dedicated to Fortune to obtain her support for Trajan's safe return to Rome.
SH65969. Gold aureus, Calico 1026a, Cohen II 153, RIC II 318, BMCRE III 569 ff. var. (draped and cuirassed), VF, weight 6.993 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse FORT RED (in exergue), P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, holding tiller and rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; SOLD


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A gilded 2nd century B.C. slightly over-lifesize bronze statue, Hercules of the Forum Boarium, has Hercules in a similar pose. This statue is probably the one mentioned by Pliny, which originally stood in the Temple of Hercules Victor, by the Tiber. It lacks the lion skin. Perhaps a actual lion skin was once draped on it. The sculpture is now in the Musei Capitolini, Rome. Another similar sculpture, from the 2nd Century A.D., the Hercules of the Theatre of Pompey, was discovered in 1864, carefully buried under protective tiles. It was incised FCS (fulgor conditum summanium), indicating that it had been struck by lightning, and had been carefully interred on the spot. The figure lightly supports himself on his grounded vertical club, the skin of the Nemean Lion is draped over his left forearm. This sculpture is now in the round room area of Museo Pio-Clementino, in the Vatican.Hercules_Sculptures
SH32111. Gold aureus, Woytek 72b, RIC II 37, Calicó 1053a, BMCRE III 58 var. (aegis), BnF 75 var. (no drapery), Cohen 215 var. (same), SRCV II 3095 var. (same), VF, scrape on cheek, scratches, weight 7.347 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, Jan/Feb 100 - Oct 100 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVA TRAIAN AVG GERM, laureate bust right, hint of drapery on far shoulder; reverse P M TR P COS III P P, statue of Hercules standing facing on low base, nude except for lion skin draped over shoulders and left arm, club downward in right hand, apples of Hesperides in his left hand; SOLD


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In 107 A.D., Trajan received an ambassador from India.
SH53588. Silver denarius, Woytek 270b, RIC II 128, RSC II 74, BMCRE III 328, Strack I 128, SRCV II 3129, Superb EF, fine style, bold, from sharp dies, as struck mint state except for the addition of wonderful iridescent toning, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 107 - 108 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate bust right, slight drapery on far shoulder; reverse COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, Victory standing slightly left, naked to hips, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand; ex H. S. Perlin Co., 1989; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE LEGENDS

BONEVENTLIBO
DIVOTRAIANO
DIVOTRAIANOPARTHAVGPATRI
DIVVSTRAIANVSPATERAVGVSTVS
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERDACPARTHICOPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERMDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGPMTRPCOSVI
IMPCAESNERVAETRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVPP
IMPCAESNERVAETRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMDACICVSPM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPMTRPPP
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANOGERM
IMPCAESNERTRAIANAVG
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDACPARTHICOPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERM
IMPCAESTRAIANAVGGERDACPPREST
IMPCAESTRAIANAVGGERM
IMPNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPNERVACAESTRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPNERVACAESTRAIANAVGGERMPMTRPPP
IMPNERVATRAIANVSAVGGERDACICVS
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRP
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPARTHICO
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVPP
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVDESVI
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERMDAC
IMPTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDACPMTRP
IMPTRAIANOPIOFELAVGPP
IMPTRAIANVSAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPTRAIANVSAVGGERMDACICVS


REFERENCES

Besombes, P. Bibliothèque Nationale, Catalogue des Monnaies de l'Empire Romain, IV Trajan (98-117 après J.-C.). (Paris, 2008).
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
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. 2: Nerva to Antoninus Pius. (Paris, 1883).
Hill, P. The Dating and Arrangement of the Undated Coins of Rome, A.D. 98-148. (London, 1970).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 3: Nerva to Hadrian. (London, 1936).
Mattingly H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II: Vespasian to Hadrian. (London, 1926).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Simic, V. & M. Vasic. "La monaie des mines romaines de I'llyrie" in RN 1977.
Strack, P. Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil 1: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Traian. (Stuttgart, 1931).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Woytek, B. Die Reichsprägung des kaisers Traianus (98-117). MIR 14. (Vienna, 2010).

Catalog current as of Saturday, June 15, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Trajan