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Imperial Coinage of Vespasian


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Titus Flavius Vespasianus - Augustus 69-79 AD

Imperial coins are arranged according to the new RIC II Part 1.

References cited:
RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage II Part 1 - Carradice and Buttrey
BMC - Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum II - Mattingly
RSC - Roman Silver Coins II - Seaby
RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RIC frequency ratings:
R3 unique
R2 very few examples known
R rare
C common
C2 very common
C3 extremely common

185 files, last one added on Feb 27, 2019

Imperial Coinage of Titus


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Titus Flavius Vespasianus - Caesar 69-79 AD, Augustus 79-81 AD

Imperial coins are arranged according to the new RIC II Part 1.

References cited:
RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage II Part 1 - Carradice and Buttrey
BMC - Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum II - Mattingly
RSC - Roman Silver Coins II - Seaby
RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RIC frequency ratings:
R3 unique
R2 very few examples known
R rare
C common
C2 very common
C3 extremely common

129 files, last one added on Mar 25, 2019

Imperial Coinage of Domitian


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Titus Flavius Domitianus - Caesar 69-81 AD, Augustus 8196 AD

Imperial coins are arranged according to the new RIC II Part 1.

References cited:
RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage II Part 1 - Carradice and Buttrey
BMC - Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum II - Mattingly
RSC - Roman Silver Coins II - Seaby
RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RIC frequency ratings:
R3 unique
R2 very few examples known
R rare
C common
C2 very common
C3 extremely common

Common Minerva Types:
M1 Minerva advancing right, brandishing spear
M2 Minerva advancing right, brandishing spear, on capital of rostral column, accompanied by owl
M3 Minerva standing, facing left, with thunderbolt and spear and shield behind her feet
M4 Minerva standing left with spear

214 files, last one added on Mar 19, 2019

Imperial Coinage of Julia Titi


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Flavia Julia Titi - Augusta 80-91 AD

Imperial coins are arranged according to the new RIC II Part 1.

References cited:
RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage II Part 1 - Carradice and Buttrey
BMC - Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum II - Mattingly
RSC - Roman Silver Coins II - Seaby
RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RIC frequency ratings:
R3 unique
R2 very few examples known
R rare
C common
C2 very common
C3 extremely common

3 files, last one added on Aug 24, 2017

Imperial Coinage of Domitia


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Domitia Longina - Augusta 81-96 AD

Imperial coins are arranged according to the new RIC II Part 1.

References cited:
RIC - The Roman Imperial Coinage II Part 1 - Carradice and Buttrey
BMC - Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum II - Mattingly
RSC - Roman Silver Coins II - Seaby
RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RIC frequency ratings:
R3 unique
R2 very few examples known
R rare
C common
C2 very common
C3 extremely common

1 files, last one added on Jul 25, 2018

Provincial Coinage of the Flavian Dynasty


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Flavian Dynasty 69-96 AD

Provincial coins are arranged according to RPC II

Reference cited: RPC - Roman Provincial Coinage II - Burnett, Amandry, Carradice

RPC frequency is determined by the number of specimens in the 'core collections'

Core collections:
Berlin, Staatliche Museen
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum
Copenhagen, Nationalmuseet
Glasgow, Hunterian Museum
London, British Museum
Munich, Staatliche Mnzsammlung
New York, American Numismatic Society
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Paris, Bibliothque Nationale de France
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

68 files, last one added on Nov 06, 2018

6 albums on 1 page(s)

Last additions - David Atherton's Gallery
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Titus as Caesar RIC-126821 views As, 9.35g
Lyon mint, 77-78 AD (Vespasian)
RIC 1268 (C2). BMC 862.
Obv: T CAES IMP AVG F TR P COS VI CENSOR; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.; globe at point of bust
Rev: IVDAEA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Palm tree; to r., Judaea std. r.; to l. of tree, arms
Acquired from GB Collection, March 2019.

The importance of the Jewish War to the Flavian dynasty cannot be overestimated. It provided much needed legitimacy for the imperial rule of 'new men'. This common as struck for Titus Caesar nearly eight years after the fall of Jerusalem is ample evidence of the dynasty's continued reliance on the propaganda value of 'Judaea Capta'. It would continue to be Titus' calling card even after he became emperor a year or so later. This coin was struck in Lugdunum (Lyon) in a fairly large issue that presumably addressed a shortage of bronze coinage in the Western provinces.

Good Lyon style with a fetching dark patina.
3 commentsDavid AthertonMar 25, 2019
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Domitian RIC-82155 viewsAR Denarius, 3.42g
Rome mint, 96 AD
RIC 821 (R2). BMC 237D. RSC 297b.
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XVI; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: IMP XXII COS XVII CENS P P P; Minerva, winged, flying l., with spear and shield
Ex jerusalemhadaya2012, eBay, 4 March 2019.

Domitian achieved tribunician power for the 16th time on 14 September 96 AD. He was assassinated in a palace plot four days later on 18 September. In between those two dates the mint struck only one issue of denarii recording Domitian as TR P XVI, needless to say they are extremely rare! The Senate decreed Damnatio Memoriae within a day of Domitian's assassination which would have quickly halted production at the mint for his coinage. The months leading up to Domitian's assassination saw the mint at Rome experimenting with many new reverse designs (altar, winged Minerva, Maia, temple reverses), breaking the monotony of the four standard Minerva types that had previously dominated the denarius. These new types are exceedingly rare and were perhaps experimental in nature. This denarius shows one of these new reverse types, Minerva Victrix, a more warrior like attribute of the goddess. The fact that this new type which originally appeared on the denarius when Domitian was TR P XV carried over to the briefly struck TR P XVI issue alongside the Maia and the M1, M3, and M4 Minerva types may hint that there was indeed change in the air at the mint. Perhaps the mix of new types with the older ones hint at a transition regarding the typology on his precious metal coinage? Regardless, the experiment was cut short by an assassin's blade, so we shall never know. This denarius may very well be the last coin ever struck for Domitian.

Fine late style with good natural toning. Same dies as the BM specimen.
10 commentsDavid AthertonMar 19, 2019
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Titus as Caesar RIC 43134 views Sestertius, 25.13g
Rome mint, 72 AD (Vespasian)
RIC 431 (R). BMC 636.
Obv: T CAES VESPASIAN IMP PON TR POT COS II; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: S C in exergue; Titus stg. r., with branch and sceptre, in quadriga r.
Acquired from Wallinmynt, February 2019.

In 71 AD Vespasian and Titus held a double triumph celebrating their victory in the recently concluded Judaean War. The spectacular triumph was held a few days after Titus' arrival from the East in June and could be viewed as his effective homecoming party. Mary Beard has shrewdly observed that the triumph served as 'the Flavian coronation, the official launch party and press night of the Flavian dynasty.' It was the first time after Vespasian's rise to the purple that the whole family could be seen together by the Roman populace. Vespasian and Titus were identically dressed riding in matching quadrigas while Domitian trotted alongside on a splendid mount. The procession included massive towering floats depicting various 'battles' (one wonders how the makeshift naval battle on the Sea of Galilee was rendered?) that were so enormous many onlookers feared they would topple over. Booty from the destroyed Temple (the famous Menorah for one) along with other Eastern flavoured treasures were on display. Much of these treasures were likely manufactured in Rome for the event - a lavish sham in other words. The war ravaged region really didn't have much to offer in the way of razzmatazz show pieces, even the Temple's coffers were likely depleted by war's end. Despite all this, it cannot be underestimated how important this manufactured spectacle was for the young dynasty. The legitimacy and prestige the triumph provided to the family was worth every propaganda penny the regime spent on it, allowing Vespasian to announce to the world that Titus was his chosen heir. By showcasing his eldest son on an equal footing in the procession, it left little doubt who would succeed after his death. Coins were struck in all metals to commemorate the event. Here is a rare sestertius struck for Titus Caesar in 72 showing him in triumphal dress riding in a triumphal quadriga, the type is more commonly seen in silver from Antioch. The same reverse was identically struck for Vespasian, clear numismatic evidence of Vespasian's intentions for his son. The piece itself serves as a superb memento of the 'Greatest Show on Earth' triumph put on by the Flavian regime in the late First century.

The fine style portrait on the obverse is quite impressive, unmarred by three punch marks from antiquity.
3 commentsDavid AthertonMar 12, 2019
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Vespasian-RIC-26043 views Sestertius, 27.35g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD (Titus)
RIC 260 (R2). BMC 224.
Obv: DIVVS AVGVSTVS VESP; Deified Vespasian std. l., with branch and sceptre
Rev: IMP T CAES DIVI VESP F AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; S C, large, in centre
Ex eBay, 21 February 2019. Ex Tom Cederlind, 1996.

The funeral Titus held for his father Vespasian in the early summer of 79 was a lavish affair. Suetonius says it reportedly cost 10 million sestertii! B. Levick in her Vespasian biography speculates the procession was closely modelled on the one held for Divus Augustus by Tiberius. Vespasian's body was borne by leading senators on a funerary couch of ivory and gold with the body hidden from view, instead onlookers saw a wax image of Vespasian in triumphal gear. A cult statue of the dead emperor was also displayed in a triumphal chariot - the same statue of Vespasian that is likely commemorated on the obverse of this rare sestertius struck by Titus for the deified Vespasian. Two variants of the obverse legend occur: one with 'VESPASIAN' (seated on a curule chair) and this coin's 'VESP' - which seems to be slightly rarer. Only one obverse die has been recorded for this variant.
The seated emperor with branch and sceptre was also struck for Divus Augustus in a restoration issue by Titus. Minting the same type for both Divus Augustus and Divus Vespasian was a way to stress a parallel between the two emperors, a parallel that Vespasian had earlier emphasised with his own coinage. The date with Titus as COS VIII places the coin between 80-81, at least a full six months after Vespasian's death on 24 June 79 (assuming the coins were produced contemporaneously with Vespasian's deification). Epigraphic evidence shows Vespasian had been deified sometime before 29 May 80. Why they were struck so late remains a mystery. Perhaps the delay for deification was an attempt on Titus' part to avoid his father becoming a court joke as Claudius had become, or so B. Levick has asserted. She believes the famous 'Woe's me ...' quip attributed to Vespasian is likely a later cruel jest parodying Claudius' last utterance 'Woe's me, I think I've messed myself'. Regardless, the political expediency of having a deified father likely overruled any such qualms.

Beautiful dark brown patina. A fine piece in hand!
4 commentsDavid AthertonFeb 27, 2019
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Domitian RIC-25165 views Quadrans, 3.32g
Rome Mint, 84-85 AD
RIC 251 (R). BMC - .
Obv: (No legend) Rhinoceros stg. l.
Rev: IMP DOMIT AVG GERM; S C in centre
Acquired from Marc Breitsprecher, February 2019.

A few years into Domitian's reign an extraordinary issue of quadrantes were struck featuring a rhinoceros. Although the coins are undated, their production can be narrowed down between late 83 when he assumed the title Germanicus and 85 when the consular date XI appeared on the quadrantes. The type is highly unusual and breaks with the standard obverses that were normally featured on the quadrans. One may ask, why a rhinoceros? Certainly the animal was rare in Rome and most difficult to obtain. The rhinoceros depicted on the coin is the African species, identified by the two horns. Martial in his book 'On Spectacles' tells of such a rhinoceros in the Colosseum. Presumably, these coins were struck with that very 'star performer' in mind. Ted Buttrey wrote about this coin type in his article Domitian, the Rhinoceros, and the Date of Martial's "Liber De Spectaculis": "it is wrong to write off the rhinoceros of Domitian's coin casually, as if the coin were a picture postcard from the zoo: 'This is a rhinoceros'. No, coin types are pointed. Everything has to do with imperial advertisement and with its importance at the moment of issue: 'This is my rhinoceros'. Domitian's rhinoceros, in its supremacy in the arena might well stand as a metaphor for the invincible success of the emperor conquering general who had recently assumed the historically-weighted title of Germanicus." Coming back to Martial, he also speaks of tokens being showered upon the cheering crowds - could these quadrantes struck cheaply and in massive quantities have been gifts to the cheering mob at the arena? In essence, can this coin double as currency and a souvenir from a long ago day at the games in the Colosseum?

This variant of the famous rhinoceros quadrans is somewhat rare (no examples in the BM) because of the obverse legend beginning in the upper right, more commonly it begins in the lower left. Artistically, most of the rhinos depicted on these coins have a lot to be desired. Some look like wild boars with horns added for effect. Happily, the animal depicted on this coin's obverse indeed looks every part the powerful and fearsome beast which awestruck Roman audiences - as a matter of fact, it appears to be charging with its head down. Perhaps the engraver was a witness to the very games martial describes?

As mentioned above, the rhino depicted on the coin is the two-horned African species. In contrast, the Indian rhino has one horn. Pliny in his Natural Histories describes the rhinoceros as a one horned creature (although confusingly he confirms its Ethiopian origins), Martial said it had two. The rhino was so rare in Rome, Pliny had to go all the way back to the games of Pompey the Great in 55 BC to find a reference for the animal on display in the city, apparently it was a one-horned Indian rhino. At any rate, both the numismatic evidence and Martial's description coincide rather nicely to confirm that Domitian, at great expense no doubt, brought to Rome an African rhinoceros for his shows in the new Colosseum. The surviving coins featuring this fantastic beast prove how important a feat this was to the emperor.

Well centred with a lovely green patina and fine style.
3 commentsDavid AthertonFeb 19, 2019
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Vespasian-RIC-1170 Engraver's Error68 views As, 8.58g
Lyon mint, 71 AD
RIC 1170 var. BMC 811 var.
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIAN AVG COS III; Head of Vespasian, r.; globe at point of bust
Rev: Retrograde S C in field; Eagle stg. front on globe, wings outstretched, head r.
Ex Ibercoin 25, 30 January 2019, lot 385.

The reverse is the main attraction here. The 'S C' is mistakenly struck retrograde, a major error on the engraver's part. I wonder how many of these were struck until the mistake was noticed? It's the first one I've come across. Errors like this are quite rare in the Flavian era, which would probably indicate there aren't many examples of this reverse die that survived. This As was struck in 71 when both Rome and Lyon produced a massive issue of bronze, which may somewhat excuse the error. Rare even without the retrograde 'S C'. Also of note, the 'S C' on this type is normally placed on either side of the eagle's wings, here it is on either side of its claws.

Rough, but the all important reverse is decently struck and nicely centred.
6 commentsDavid AthertonFeb 14, 2019
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Vespasian-RIC-156561 views As, 6.57g
Rome mint, 74 AD
RIC 1565 (C2). BMC 894. RPC 1984 (20 spec.).
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESP AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, l.
Rev: S C in laurel wreath
Acquired from Ephesus Numismatics, January 2019.

In 74 AD the Rome mint produced an extraordinary issue of bronze coinage of dupondii, asses, semisses, and quadrantes with a somewhat Eastern theme. Previously, these coins had been attributed to either Commagene (BMCRE) or Syria (RPC, and doubtfully so in RIC), but more recent scholarship has shown they actually were struck in Rome. The circulation pattern confirms this - out of a total of 112 of the smaller denominations cited by RPC, all but 4 were found in Western Europe. Ted Buttrey confirms 'The Eastern finds appear to be simply the dbris of Mediterranean circulation.' But why was this series produced in such a fashion? Buttrey proffers a plausible theory - 'There is nothing like this series in the whole of Roman imperial coinage. It is a deliberate act of Orientalism, imposing the flavour of the East on a Western coinage. The key to its understanding is the reverse type of the dupondius, two crossed cornuacopiae with a winged caduceus between. It replicates the type of an obscure issue of the Galilean city of Sepphoris, an issue which had been, astonishingly, signed by Vespasian himself (ΕΠΙ ΟΥΕCΠΑCΙΑΝΟΥ, on the authority of) when on duty there in the last days of Nero. The dupondius-sized bronze was accompanied by a half-unit with the type of a large, central S C again signed by Vespasian, and now imitated on the As of the orichalcum series with the wreath of the As of Antioch (RPC I 4849-50). The whole of this series memorializes not Vespasian the conquering general (IVDAEA CAPTA, VICTORIA AVGVSTI), but the man. His re-use of earlier coin types is well-known; here he re-uses his own, harking back to his career just prior to his final success in seizing the empire. And the series was struck in 74 A.D., co-terminous with the celebration of Vespasians first quinquennium.' So, in essence, a very personally important issue for Vespasian.

Curtis Clay has a few objections for Buttrey's theory why the issue was struck. 'As far as I am aware, there is nothing "astonishing" about Vespasian's "signing" of the two coins of Sepphoris. EΠI followed by the governor's name appeared frequently on Roman provincial coins, meaning simply, "Struck while the man named was governor". So there was no evident reason for Vespasian to consider it extraordinary that he had been named as governor of Syria on coins of Sepphoris struck for Nero near the end of his reign (Year 14), and no evident reason why he should have referred to the Sepphoris coins in his orichalcum issue struck at Rome five years later. It seems quite probable that Vespasian never even noticed his name on the coins of Sepphoris, and certainly very few Romans in the West will ever have seen such a coin, though Buttrey thinks the orichalcum coins were struck for circulation in the West in 74 in order to recall precisely those Sepphoris coins with their reference to Vespasian some months before his accession. Why waste coin types on references that were inconsequential, and that nobody was likely to comprehend?

If the orichalcum issue was meant to recall those two coins of Sepphoris, shouldn't it have been struck for Vespasian only, and using only those two rev. types, caduceus between crossed cornucopias and large SC? But that was not the case. Both the caduceus between crossed cornucopias type and the large SC type were struck not only for Vespasian, but also for Titus and Domitian as Caesars. Moreover those were not the only two rev. types of the issue: other coins showed a bust of Antioch with legend ANTIOCHIA , and (on small coins only) the same winged caduceus as on the crossed cornucopias dupondii, but without the cornucopias (see images below). It seems to me highly unlikely that the three main types of this issue, all struck for Titus and Domitian as well as Vespasian, were inspired by and meant to recall the far simpler issue of Sepphoris, using just two changing types (obv. types in this case) and of course naming Vespasian only.'

If Buttrey's argument is wrong it brings us back to the original question - why was an Eastern flavoured coinage struck for circulation in the West? Perhaps the issue may be nothing more than Vespasian paying homage to the part of the world that elevated him.

This As is a fine example of the smaller denomination, nicely centred with a beautiful emerald green patina.
2 commentsDavid AthertonFeb 12, 2019
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Domitian RIC-623b64 views As, 10.13g
Rome mint, 88 AD
RIC 623b (C2). BMC 434.
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: COS XIIII LVD SAEC FEC; S C in exergue; Domitian stg. l., sacrificing over altar; to l., flute player and lyre player stg. r.; in background, temple, wreath in pediment
Acquired from Knker, January 2019. Ex Heinrich Pilartz Mnzhandlung.

In October 88 AD Domitian held the Secular Games, a festival featuring theatrical performances and circus games accompanied by six various daytime and nighttime religious ceremonies. The games marked the transition from one era (saeculum) to another and were supposedly held once every 110 years, or the maximum span of a human lifetime, making them a 'once in a lifetime' event. Domitian conducted his games on the Augustan calculation, rejecting the formula for the Claudian games held in 47 AD. The festival was important enough to interrupt the normal striking of reverse types on the coinage and for the mint to produce a new unique issue commemorating the event both in precious metal and bronze. The precious metal designs tended to be symbolic while the bronze were more narrative in nature, focusing on the various religious sacrifices that were at the heart of the games.

The reverse on this as features a daytime victimless sacrifice of cakes to Apollo and Diana on the sixth and last day of the celebrations, held in front of an unidentified hexastyle temple somewhere on the Palatine. The stylised nature of the reverse's design makes it difficult to pinpoint the temple in question. The generic decorative wreath in the pediment offers no clues. Another variant of the type (RIC 623a) has an eagle in the pediment, perhaps an indication the engravers were not intending to depict a specific temple at all. The scene could stand alone and be an excellent representation for all the religious ceremonies of the games. The main message of the design is to show the Roman people that Domitian provided and responsibly held the Secular Games. The fact this type was struck in fairly large quantities hints it was an important piece of Domitianic propaganda.

Struck on a large flan in fine style.
5 commentsDavid AthertonFeb 05, 2019
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Vespasian-RIC-121560 views Dupondius, 12.97g
Lyon mint, 77-78 AD
RIC 1215 (C3). BMC 833.
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG COS VIII P P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.; globe at point of bust
Rev: FORTVNAE REDVCI; S C in field; Fortuna stg. l., with rudder on globe and cornucopiae
Acquired from GB Collection, January 2019.

A possible shortage of bronze coinage in the Western provinces late in Vespasian's reign likely prompted the Lyon mint to temporarily reopen in 77-78 and strike a fairly substantial issue of coinage. Curiously, as seen here, the dupondii are commonly unradiated but can be told apart from the asses by their heavier weight. The reverses are standard types copied from Rome. This common Fortuna REDVCI reverse featuring her with a steady hand steering the rudder of the world was a familiar propaganda type both at Rome and Lyon that continued to commemorated the safe return of Vespasian and Titus from the East at the beginning of the reign.

A fantastic high relief portrait in distinctive Lyonnais style.
4 commentsDavid AthertonJan 29, 2019
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Titus RIC-15543 views Sestertius, 22.74g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD
RIC 155 (C). BMC 171.
Obv: IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l.
Rev: PAX AVGVST; S C in field; Pax stg. l., with branch and cornucopiae
Acquired from Marti Numismatics, January 2019.

Pax was a fairly common reverse type struck for Titus. This particular Pax with branch and cornucopiae is a carry-over from Vespasian's coinage. Apparently, the propaganda value of peace was quite limitless. Despite the wear, this coin features one of the most magnificent coin portraits of Titus I have come across in either silver or bronze. Truly the work of a master engraver! There is one peculiar thing I have noticed about Titus' bronze coinage, the left facing portraits tend to be in a finer style than the right facing ones. Perhaps a talented engraver at the mint preferred his portraits facing left?

Worn, but in exceptionally fine style with an appealing dark patina.
5 commentsDavid AthertonJan 22, 2019
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03c Domitian as Caesar RIC 93249 views As, 10.65g
Rome mint, 76 AD (Vespasian)
RIC 932 (C). BMC - .
Obv: CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS COS IIII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: S C in field; Spes stg. l., with flower
Acquired from Ken Dorney, January 2019.

Spes, the goddess of hope, is seen here as an 'heir apparent' type. She is represented on Roman coins as a young girl, reminiscent of earlier Greek statures depicting Elpis. H. Mattingly in BMCRE II says 'the flower held by Spes is an opening bud, she is raising her skirt in order to hasten forward'. Spes occurs quite commonly throughout the Flavian coinage and is frequently paired up with the young Domitian Caesar, likely expressing a hope or expectation for future dynastic success. It is very Ironic that Spes is often associated with Domitian Caesar on the coinage, considering he would later be the family member most responsible for the dynasty's downfall in 96. Surprisingly, this common Spes type is not in the BM.

The obverse features a quintessential Flavian portrait - unflattering hook nose with full and heavy facial features. Pleasant dark green patina.
2 commentsDavid AthertonJan 15, 2019
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Titus RIC-49964 views Sestertius, 24.63g
Eastern Mint (Thrace?), 80-81 AD
RIC 499 (C). BMC 310. RPC 502.
Obv: IMP T CAES DIVI VESP F AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: S C in field; Mars, with cloak over shoulders, adv. r., with spear and trophy
Acquired from Ken Dorney, December 2018.

A remarkable sestertius from a truly mysterious issue of bronze that was struck under Titus in 80-81. The style (heavily seriffed letters, large portraits, and massive reverse figures), unique obverse legends (DIVI VESP F for Titus), and uncommon fabric (convex flans) all suggest a mint other than Rome. Attributing exactly where these coins were struck has historically been a moving target - Mattingly in BMCRE thought Lugdunum, H.A. Cahn believed somewhere in Bithynia. More recent scholarship has looked towards Thrace as a possible location for production based on the Balkan distribution pattern of found specimens. Although the region of mintage has been narrowed down, the city itself remains elusive. RPC has suggested possibly Perinthus. Presumably a shortage of bronze coins in the region during Titus' reign prompted a localised imperial issue, which in the main copied types from Rome. The striking of imperial bronze outside of Rome was an exceptional step at the time considering the last imperial branch mint at Lugdunum had shuttered late in Vespasian's reign.

An appealing example with a beautiful sandy patina.
3 commentsDavid AthertonJan 09, 2019
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Titus RIC-23356 views As, 11.89g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD
RIC 233 (R3). BMC - .
Obv: IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P COS VIII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l.
Rev: PAX AVGVST; S C in field; Pax stg. l., with branch and cornucopiae
Acquired from Praefectus Coins, December 2018. Ex Hirsch 317, 18 February 2016, lot 2027. Ex Hirsch 249, 6 February 2007, lot 1851.

The various stock Pax types struck for Titus are general carry-overs from Vespasian's reign and are normally seen on Titus' sestertii and asses. This as features a rare variant of the standing Pax type. She is seen here holding a cornucopiae instead of the much more common variant with caduceus. This reverse type with AVGVST instead of AVGVSTI is also extremely rare - only one specimen was known when the new RIC II.1 was published.

Fine style portrait and a pleasing coppery tone.
4 commentsDavid AthertonJan 02, 2019
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Domitian RIC 7832 views Sestertius, 25.82g
Rome mint, 81 AD
RIC 78 (C2). BMC 261.
Obv: IMP CAES DIVI VESP F DOMITIAN AVG P M; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: TR P COS VII DES VIII P P; S C in field; Minerva stg. l., with spear
Acquired from Vilmar, December 2018.

While Domitian's initial denarius output is dominated by the carry-over pulvinar types from Titus, his first issue of sestertii have a more personal touch with the reverses featuring his patron deity Minerva. These first bronze coins were not struck in massive quantities and likely date between mid October and 31 December 81. The reverse legend indicates he is consul for the seventh time and has already been voted as consul for the eighth time beginning 1 January 82.

Superb portrait with an aged brassy appearance.
2 commentsDavid AthertonDec 26, 2018
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Vespasian RIC-32259 views As, 10.55g
Rome mint, 71 AD
RIC 322 (R). BMC 612.
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: S C in field; Eagle stg. facing on globe, wings open, head r.
Ex eBay, 20 November 2018. Ex Heritage.

The eagle on globe type was sparingly struck at Rome on the As issues. Introduced during the great bronze mintage of 71, the type harkens back to a similar reverse struck for Divus Augustus under Tiberius and symbolises Vespasian as Augustus' worthy successor. The type was struck much more frequently at Lugdunum.

Strong Roman portrait with a lovely olive green patina.
5 commentsDavid AthertonDec 18, 2018
V167sm.jpg
Vespasian RIC-167105 views Sestertius, 24.60g
Rome mint, 71 AD
RIC 167 (C3). BMC 543.
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: IVDAEA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Palm tree; to l., Vespasian stg. r. with spear and parazonium, foot on helmet; to r., Judaea std. r. on cuirass
Acquired from Denarius, December 2018.

The Jewish War was an important event for the fledgling Flavian dynasty - in essence it gave them the legitimacy to rule. The ensuing propaganda onslaught after the capture of Jerusalem in August of 70 is awe inspiring. We have Josephus' description of the joint triumph of 71 held for Vespasian and Titus in book 7 of his 'Jewish War', the buildings and monuments erected by the regime, and more importantly for our purposes we have the coins. Judaea Capta types were struck in all metals for almost as long as the dynasty ruled. The first flurry of these came in 71, presumably in conjunction with the triumph, amidst a great issue of bronze coinage that same year. One of the most iconic Judaea Capta types is this sestertius' reverse featuring a triumphal Vespasian with a defeated Judaea at his feet, not surprisingly one of the more common types from the issue. Vespasian is seen proudly standing holding a spear and parazonium (a triangular sword) with his foot on an enemy helmet, while Judaea is sitting on a captured cuirass in abject despair - take note of their size discrepancy. The iconography on display here strongly hints at what the spectators of the triumph likely witnessed. The slight of hand the Flavian regime devised which transformed defeated rebel provincials into a foreign menace is truly amazing.

'Ambition sighed: she found it vain to trust
The faithless column and the crumbling bust;
Huge moles, whose shadow stretched from shore to shore,
Their ruins perished, and their place no more!
Convinced, she now contracts her vast design,
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps,
Beneath her palm here sad Judea weeps.' -
Alexander Pope, To Mr. Addison, Occasioned by his Dialogues on Medals II. 19-26

Honest wear with some minor cleaning scratches.
6 commentsDavid AthertonDec 11, 2018

Random files - David Atherton's Gallery
V1543A.JPG
Vespasian-RIC-1542A82 viewsAR Denarius, 2.80g
Antioch (?) mint, 72-73 AD
RIC 1542A (R3). BMC - . RSC - . RPC - .
Obv: IMP CAES VESP AVG P M; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: AVGVR above TRI POT below; priestly implements
Ex G&N, eBay, 22 November 2012.

The type copies a contemporary Rome issue, but is clearly not from that mint. The best fit style wise is Antioch, which also issued this reverse type with a slightly different obverse legend. The lettering is rendered rather crudely similar to many Antiochene denarii. Until this specimen surfaced, this obverse legend combined with the priestly implements reverse was completely unknown for Antioch. Both the legend and the type are extremely rare for this mint. The new RIC II authors Ian Carradice and Ted Buttrey agree the coin is Syrian in style and have tentatively assigned it to the upcoming RIC II Addenda as 1542A, although Carradice hasn't completely ruled out the possibility it is a barbarous copy. Harry Sneh also agreed the best fit is Antioch, proposing that there may have been several mints operating in Syria and this may be the product of one of them.

It is quite possible there are other examples out there misattributed to Rome as yet unrecognised, as this example had been by the seller. It pays to know your mints!
4 commentsDavid Atherton
D48a.jpg
Domitian RIC 4851 viewsAR Denarius, 2.96g
Rome mint, 81 AD
RIC 48 (C). BMC 18. RSC 570.
Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG P M; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: TR P COS VII DES VIII P P; Curule chair, wreath above
Acquired from Lucernae, eBay, December 2014.

This fairly common denarius was struck towards the end of 81 and is part of the group 4 denarii, the largest issue of the year. The curule chair reverse is a carry-over from the pulvinaria types struck by Titus. Presumably the mint had no new reverse types in readiness for Domitian and had to recycled those from the previous reign.

A good, early style portrait struck on a tight flan.
David Atherton
D70.jpg
Domitian RIC 7059 viewsAR Denarius, 3.28g
Rome mint, 81 AD
RIC 70 (C). BMC 15. RSC 575.
Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG P M; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: TR P COS VII DES VIII P P; Seat, draped; above, winged thunderbolt
Ex Den of Antiquity, eBay, February 2014.

A fairly common coin from the large fourth issue of 81. The early coinage of Domitian continues in the same style of those struck under Titus using many of his pulvinaria reverse types. The thunderbolt over table is thought to be attributed to the pulvinar of Jupiter.

A decent coin both in style and eye appeal.
David Atherton
D331sm.jpg
Domitian RIC-331160 viewsAR Denarius, 3.20g
Rome mint, 85 AD
RIC 331 (R2). BMC 82. RSC 181.
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P IIII; Bust of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis
Rev: IMP VIIII COS XI CENS POTES P P; Germania seated r. on shield; below, broken spear
Ex Roma Auction V, 23 March 2013, lot 728.

In either 82 or 83 AD Domitian conducted a census of Gaul as a smoke screen in order to make preparations to invade the Germanic Chatti lands across the Rhine. Not much is known of what the actual war consisted of - perhaps some road building, punitive raids against Chatti strongholds, and some minor skirmishes. No large battles, a la Mons Graupius, have come down to us, prompting Tacitus' assertion, 'that in recent times, the Germans were more triumphed over than conquered'. Even the date of the conflict is in dispute - although Domitian did rack up four salutations between June 83 and September 84, several of which must be attributed to the Chattan Campaign.

Domitian celebrated a triumph over the Chatti in 83, after which he claimed the title 'Germanicus'. This rare denarius from 85 is a record of the war and triumph over the defeated German tribe. The coin is part of the last series of denarii minted with the recently increased silver fineness before the lesser Neronian standard was restored. During this period particular attention was paid by the die engravers to Domitian's portrait, evidenced here by the aegis and fine style. The Germania Capta reverse has become an iconic Flavian type, along with Vespasian and Titus' Judaea Capta types, despite the 'hollow' triumph it records.

A most wonderful coin in hand!
10 commentsDavid Atherton