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Vespasian RIC-238
∆ Sestertius, 25.68g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPAS AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: MARS VICTOR; S C in field; Mars, armoured, adv. l., with Victory and trophy
RIC 238 (C). BMC 552. BNC 509.
Ex CNG E443, 1 May 2019, lot 530.

A sestertius struck in Vespasian's great bronze issue of 71. The reverse features the first Mars type coined for the new emperor, copied from one previously struck for Vitellius. Mars is seen here in full military dress instead of the heroic nude he is normally depicted as on the contemporary denarii. This MARS VICTOR type pays proper respect to the god of war for granting Flavian success in the recently concluded Jewish War (an open display of celebration for defeating Vitellius would be taboo on the coinage). The portraits from this aes issue can be quite extraordinary. C.H.V. Sutherland in his book Roman Coins writes: 'Vespasian's aes, however, and not merely the sestertii, developed a full magnificence of portraiture ... The beauty of this work lay in it's realism, strong in authority and yet delicate in execution ...' (p. 189). Perhaps, a portrait such as this is what Sutherland had in mind when he wrote that passage.

The minor porosity does not detract from the superb veristic portrait and beautiful dark brown patina.
File information
Album name:David Atherton / Imperial Coinage of Vespasian
Rating (1 votes): (Details)
File Size:433 KB
Date added:May 10, 2019
Dimensions:776 x 389 pixels
Displayed:76 times
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quadrans  [May 10, 2019 at 06:43 PM]
Wow, great piece..
Nemonater  [May 10, 2019 at 09:01 PM]
Great coin and write up!
Jay GT4  [May 11, 2019 at 02:54 AM]
okidoki  [May 16, 2019 at 02:01 PM]
Nice David
maridvnvm  [May 20, 2019 at 07:52 AM]
Gorgeous. It's a type I have always admired.