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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > David Atherton > Imperial Coinage of Vespasian

Vespasian RIC-221
∆ Sestertius, 19.38g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: VICTORIA AVGVSTI; S C in exergue; Victory stg. r., l. foot on helmet, inscribing OB / CIV / SERV on shield on palm tree; to r., Judaea std. r.
RIC 221 (C3). BMC 582. BNC 561.
Ex CNG eAuction 453, 2 October 2019, lot 522.

The commonness of most Judaea Capta types underscores how important the Jewish War and subsequent defeat of the Jews was to the fledgling Flavian dynasty. This iconic sestertius from the second bronze issue of 71 was struck in fairly plentiful numbers and copies a similar Victory type coined under Vitellius. It very likely was the first 'Judaea Capta' type struck for Vespasian. Colin Kraay records 21 different reverse dies used for this one type alone. The iconography on the reverse is quite explicit. Victory, nude from the waist up, is inscribing a shield attached to the trunk of a palm tree, the palm being a topographical symbol for the land of Judaea. The personification of Judaea herself sits in dejected mode to the right of the palm. The inscription on the shield, OB CIV SERV - 'for saving the citizens', credits the emperor for keeping the empire safe. The clear allegorical message of the reverse giving the credit to Vespasian for defeating the Jews and saving the empire would have been quite apparent to most people handling this coin. The amount of propaganda squeezed from the rebellion of such a small region is indeed remarkable. Josephus' declaration of the Jewish War as the 'greatest' of all time would have been quite welcomed by the Flavian regime.

Beautiful dark olive green patina good style.

NB: Special thanks to Curtis Clay for the Kraay citation.
File information
Album name:David Atherton / Imperial Coinage of Vespasian
File Size:363 KB
Date added:Oct 07, 2019
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FlaviusDomitianus  [Oct 07, 2019 at 09:56 AM]
Nice example of the type.
Jay GT4  [Oct 07, 2019 at 06:44 PM]