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

Vespasian RIC-688
AR Denarius, 2.84g
Rome mint, 74 AD
RIC 688 (R). BMC 147. RSC 569.
Obv: IMP CAESAR in exergue; Vespasian stg. r., with branch and sceptre, in quadriga r.
Rev: VESP AVG across field; Victory on prow r., with wreath and palm
Ex Nomos Obolos 4, 21 February 2016, lot 575. Ex GH Collection. Ex Superior Galleries, The Moreira sale, Part II, 10-11 December 1988, lot 2374.

A major feature of Vespasian's coinage is in its use of antiquarian styled types and recycled ones from previous eras. K. Butcher and M. Ponting in The Metallurgy of Roman Silver Coinage have shown that a big component of Vespasian's silver bullion consisted of recycled denarii from the republic and early empire. Vespasian's moneyers were removing the older worn coinage and replacing them with brand new coins and in the process keeping some of the familiar reverse designs that the Roman public had grown accustomed to.

With that in mind, this very rare coin which copies not only the reverse design from a denarius of Octavian, it also copies the obverse. The only change is with the reverse legend VESP AVG to indicate Vespasian's authority. Being undated, it is difficult to correctly place in the series. RIC assigns it to 74 AD based on the legends. D. Hendin to 71-72, just after Vespasian and Titus' joint triumph for the Jewish War.

This denarius is so rare I have only been able to locate six other examples, all of which are in public collections: BM 3 examples (one plated), Paris (obv die match with mine), Berlin (rev die match with mine), and ANA NY. Curtis Clay has kindly informed me of several other examples offered at auction: "Glendining, 1952, Ryan Part 5, part of lot 2147, not illustrated, 'only fine but rare.' Perhaps the same coin as Trau Sale, 1935, lot 625, pl. 8: a worn example. Stack's, Knobloch, May 1980, lot 300. VF, but small edge chip (the ANA NY coin). Leu, April 1982, lot 327, VF."

I think the RIC frequency rating of 'rare' really underestimates the rarity of the type.

Fantastic old cabinet toning on a large 20mm flan.
File information
Album name:David Atherton / Imperial Coinage of Vespasian
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File Size:174 KB
Date added:Mar 09, 2016
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Jay GT4  [Mar 09, 2016 at 07:18 PM]
What a coin! Great catch David!
Jochen  [Mar 09, 2016 at 07:31 PM]
Molinari  [Mar 09, 2016 at 07:43 PM]
Nemonater  [Mar 09, 2016 at 07:47 PM]
Pharsalos  [Mar 09, 2016 at 08:00 PM]
Fascinating rarity!
Sam  [Mar 09, 2016 at 10:32 PM]
WOW ! Congratulations .. This is a home run
orfew  [Mar 10, 2016 at 01:01 AM]
great coin David
ickster  [Mar 10, 2016 at 02:03 AM]
Congratulations I end the day better informed than I started!
quadrans  [Mar 10, 2016 at 03:41 AM]
Hoops, not an every day coin...
ancientdave  [Mar 10, 2016 at 04:07 AM]
Wow! A marvelous find! Congrats!
Enodia  [Mar 10, 2016 at 04:48 AM]
i'm a Greek coin snob and even i love this one. nice acquisition!
mix_val  [Mar 10, 2016 at 10:29 AM]
A satisfying addition to your collection
djmacdo  [Mar 19, 2016 at 10:38 AM]
I did not even know such a type exists!
Vincent  [Mar 26, 2016 at 01:10 PM]
Wow, what a coin story....Hail Vespasian
NORMAN K  [May 25, 2016 at 02:20 PM]
Great acquisition.