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

Vespasian RIC-195
Sestertius, 25.37g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r., drapery on l. shoulder
Rev: ROMA RESVRGES; S C in exergue; Vespasian stg. l., raising kneeling Roma (city); behind, the goddess Roma stg. r.
RIC 195 (R2). BMC 565. BNC 531.
Acquired from Marti Numismatics, September 2020. Ex Jean Elsen Auction 144, 14 March 2020, lot 526.

This iconic sestertius struck during the great bronze issue of 71 advertises Vespasian's ambitions to repair both the great financial burden and physical devastation Rome had suffered from the recent Civil War and Nero's great fire of 64. Vespasian is shown extending a hand to raise the kneeling personification of the city of Rome while the goddess Roma looks on with approval in the background. Suetonius tells us 'Rome was unsightly because of earlier fires and collapsed buildings...Having undertaken the restoration of the Capitol, he (Vespasian) was the first to set his hands to clearing away the rubble and carried it off on his own shoulders.' It would cost nearly 400 million aueri to set things right and put the city and the empire on sound footing. The 'Resurgence of Rome' announces the beginning of the bold plan to do so, which in hindsight was quite successful. The completion of the temple of Claudius, the rebuilding of the Capitol, the construction of temple of Peace, and the building of the Colosseum all attest to Vespasian's success at achieving his goal.

Ironically, despite the importance of the reverse's message, these ultra-rare ROMA RESVRGES sestertii were struck from only one die pair and could not have been produced in very large numbers. Also of note, the drapery on Vespasian's left shoulder marks this coin as part of a special issue (the vast majority of his portraits are unadorned). Remarkably, this same exact scene was used for a reverse with the legend LIBERTAS RESTITVTA, probably produced by the same engraver.

Many examples of this type seen in trade are actually Paduan aftercasts in poor condition and are mistakenly(?) presented as ancient coins.

Fantastic portrait with beautiful dark olive patina. No tooling or smoothing!
File information
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File Size:
37 KB
Date added:
Sep 25, 2020
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quadrans  [Sep 26, 2020 at 07:41 AM]
Great piece ..I like it..
FlaviusDomitianus  [Sep 26, 2020 at 08:30 AM]
Nice one, mine is from the same dies.
*Alex  [Sep 26, 2020 at 11:37 AM]
Great coin. Congratulations
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