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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Adoptive Emperors ▸ TrajanView Options:  |  |  |   

Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a brilliant general and administrator, was adopted and proclaimed emperor by the aging Nerva in 98 A.D. Regarded as one of Rome's greatest emperors, Trajan was responsible for the annexation of Dacia, the invasion of Arabia and an extensive and lavish building program across the empire. Under Trajan, Rome reached its greatest extent. Shortly after the annexation of Mesopotamia and Armenia, Trajan was forced to withdraw from most of the new Arabian provinces. While returning to Rome to direct operations against the new threats, Trajan died at Selinus in Cilicia.Roman Dominions in the Time of Trajan


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Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a brilliant general and administrator, was adopted and proclaimed emperor by the aging Nerva in 98 A.D. Regarded as one of Rome's greatest emperors, Trajan was responsible for the annexation of Dacia, the invasion of Arabia and an extensive and lavish building program across the empire. Under Trajan, Rome reached its greatest extent. Shortly after the annexation of Mesopotamia and Armenia, Trajan was forced to withdraw from most of the new Arabian provinces. While returning to Rome to direct operations against the new threats, Trajan died at Selinus in Cilicia.
RB88224. Orichalcum sestertius, Woytek 240q (same dies), BnF IV 512 (same dies), BMCRE III 771, Banti 117, Strack 398, RIC II 478 var. (bust), Cohen 367 var. (same), VF, well centered, rough, weight 21.340 g, maximum diameter 34.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 106 - 107 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate heroic bust left, full chest exposed, drapery on left shoulder; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Ceres standing half left, head left, holding grain over modius in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, S – C (senatus consulto) divided across field; extremely rare with this bust, struck with a superb obverse die!; $980.00 (€862.40)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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In 116, Trajan completed his invasion of Parthia by capturing the cities of Seleucia, Babylon, Ctesiphon and Susa. This was the high-water mark of the Roman Empire's eastern expansion.
RX87338. Bronze drachm, BMC Alexandria p. 48, 402; Geissen 702; Emmett 611.19; Dattari 1072; Kampmann-Ganschow 27.662; SNG Milan -, Choice VF, well centered, attractive brown patina, a little flatly struck on highest points, weight 18.113 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 115 - 28 Aug 116 A.D.; obverse AVT TPAI-AN API CEB Γ-EPM ∆AKIK ΠAP, laureate bust right, aegis on far shoulder; reverse Zeus enthroned left, long scepter vertical in right hand, thunderbolt at side in left hand, eagle at feet standing left looking back, L I-Θ (year 19) across field; ex CNG, auction 78 (14 May 2008), lot 1508 ($650 plus fees); ex Empire Coins, auction 8 (7 Dec 1987), lot 429; $470.00 (€413.60)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Abdera, Thrace

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RPC III notes Abdera issued this denomination in two variants, one with laureate heads right and this type with laureate, draped and cuirassed busts right, seen from behind. The laureate head type reverse portrait is older and has been identified as possibly as the deified Nerva or Trajan Pater. The portrait on this type is younger and also appears on coinage of Hadrian. RPC III notes that long ago Pellerin (Mélanges II, Paris, 1756, p. 85) proposed identification of the portrait as Timesios of Clazomenae, the founder of Abdera.
RP89295. Bronze AE 19, RPC III 673 (9 spec.), SNG Cop 387, AMNG II 249, Chryssanthaki-Nagle 897 - 900, VF, dark green, slightly porous patina, weight 6.306 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Abdera mint, 25 Jan 98 - 8/9 Aug 117 A.D.; obverse AYTO TPAIANW KAICAPI CEBACTW, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Trajan right, seen from behind; reverse ΓEP ∆AKI AB∆HPEITAI, Laureate, draped and cuirassed male bust (Timesios of Clazomenae, the founder of Abdera?) right, seen from behind; ex Numismatik Naumann Auction 35 (6 Sep 2015), lot 368; very rare; $180.00 (€158.40)
 


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Trajan's "bridge reverse" is usually identified as the monumental bridge built across the Danube by the famous architect Apollodorus of Damascus, an amazing example of Roman engineering. Apollodorus' bridge is believed to have differed greatly from the bridge on coin and G.F. Hill suggested the bridge is the Pons Sublicius, a revered ancient wooden structure in Rome, often damaged by floods and presumably restored under Trajan. We believe the Danube Bridge is a more likely subject. Architecture is notoriously schematized on ancient coins and both bridges required piers in the riverbed, so the artistic departure from reality would be the same in both cases.

While Apollodorus' own writings on the bridge are lost, it is depicted on Trajan's Column, and discussed in the writing of Cassius Dio and Procopius of Caesarea, among others. The bridge, constructed with wooden arches set on twenty masonry pillars, is estimated to have been 1135 meters long and the river about 800 meters wide. Each gateway was protected by a castrum. Procopius tells us that during construction the river was diverted and about half of the pillars were built on dry land. Cassius Dio tells us that Hadrian removed the wooden arches to protect Moesia from northern invasions. Since Dacia continued to be a province for about the next 150 years, the bridge must have been rebuilt. Aurelian likely demolished it when he abandoned Dacia. In 1856, when the Danube was at a record low, all twenty pillars were seen out of the water. In 1906 two were demolished to ease navigation. In 1982 archaeologists could only find the remains of twelve pillars. Both end pillars are still standing on the Serbian and Romanian shores.
RB89360. Orichalcum sestertius, Woytek 314bC, BMCRE III 847, Hunter II 320, BnF IV 315, RIC II 569, Strack I 385, Cohen II 542, SRCV II 3207, aF, bare toned brass, spots of corrosion, light marks, weight 24.040 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 107 - 110 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust right, from behind, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI, arched single-span covered bridge over river, gateways surmounted by statuary, right one with flight of steps; boat sailing left on river below, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $175.00 (€154.00) ON RESERVE


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This coin celebrates Alimenta Italiae, a program to aid orphans and other needy children. Pliny, in his panegyric in 100 A.D., testified that infants were diligently looked after and registered, in order to be brought up at the expense of the state. "There were very nearly 5000 free-born children, whom the liberality of our prince sought out and adopted. A reserve in case of war, and an ornament in peaceful times, they are nourished at the public cost; and learn to love their country, not as their country only, but also as their nourishing mother. From the ranks of these will our camps, our tribes, be filled."
RS88842. Silver denarius, Woytek 395b2, BMCRE III 472, Strack I 173, RIC II 243, RSC II 9, BnF IV 664, SRCV II 3117, Choice gF, excellent portrait, well centered, flow lines, some die wear, a few small marks/scratches, two small edge cracks, weight 2.915 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 113 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate bust right, drapery on far shoulder; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Annona standing slightly right, looking left, stalks of grain in right hand held over child at her feet on left, cornucopia in left hand, ALIM ITAL in exergue; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 72, part of lot 1047; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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In Roman mythology, Aequitas was the minor goddess of fair trade and honest merchants. Aequitas was also the personification of the virtues equity and fairness of the emperor (Aequitas Augusti). The scales, a natural emblem of equity, express righteousness. The cornucopia signifies the prosperity which results from Aequitas and Aequitas Augusti.
RS88844. Silver denarius, Woytek 278b, RIC II 118, RSC II 85, BMCRE III 281, BnF IV 257, Strack I 144, Choice VF, well centered, nice portrait, attractive toning, a few marks and scratches, weight 3.618 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 108 - 109 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate head right, slight drapery on far shoulder; reverse COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, Aequitas standing slightly, left head left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 72, part of lot 1047; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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Felicitas was the goddess or personification of happiness, good fortune, and success. She played an important role in Rome's state religion during the empire and was frequently portrayed on coins. She became a prominent symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Roman Empire.
RS88845. Silver denarius, Woytek 422v, BMCRE III 424, Hunter II 141, BnF IV 668, RIC II 271, RSC II 404b, Strack I 186, SRCV II -, VF, excellent portrait, light toning, some light marks and scratches, weight 3.315 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 195o, Rome mint, 112 - 114 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate and draped bust right; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Felicitas (happiness) standing slightly left, head left, caduceus (symbol of peace) in right hand, cornucopia (symbol of abundance) in left hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 72, part of lot 1047; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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"Trajan, having crossed the Ister by means of the bridge, conducted the war with safe prudence rather than with haste, and eventually, after a hard struggle, vanquished the Dacians. In the course of the campaign he himself performed many deeds of good generalship and bravery, and his troops ran many risks and displayed great prowess on his behalf. It was here that a certain horseman, after being carried, badly wounded, from the battle in the hope that he could be healed, when he found that he could not recover, rushed from his tent (for his injury had not yet reached his heart) and, taking his place once more in the line, perished after displaying great feats of valor." -- Roman History by Cassius Dio
RB77285. Orichalcum sestertius, Woytek 203o, BnF IV 564, RIC II 535 (S), Strack 360, Banti 215, BMCRE III -, Cayón -, aF, well centered, corrosion, pitting, weight 21.572 g, maximum diameter 32.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 104 - 107 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust left; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Trajan on horseback galloping right, in military dress, brandishing spear at Dacian warrior who is falling on his left knee, looking back at Trajan, raising both hands, and being trampled by horse's fore-hooves, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Sebastian Sondermann (Sep 2008); very rare bust left; $145.00 (€127.60)
 


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On 8 or 9 August 117, Trajan, age 63, died at Selinus, Cilicia while en route from Mesopotamia to Italy. On his death bed, he adopted Hadrian as his successor. The Roman Empire reached its maximum territorial extent at the time of Trajan's death. Hadrian soon abandoned indefensible parts of Mesopotamia to the Parthians.Rome's greatest extent 117 A.D.
RS88849. Silver denarius, Woytek 554v, BMCRE III 590, RSC II 271, BnF IV 866, Hunter II 192, RIC II 340, Strack I 243, aVF, nice portrait, oval flan, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 3.350 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 20 Feb - autumn 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC PARTHICO, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Mars walking right, helmeted, nude but for cloak billowing behind and sword on belt around waist, transverse spear in right hand, trophy over shoulder in left; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 72, part of lot 1047; $140.00 (€123.20)
 


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The Romans believed that Fortuna, after deserting the Persians and Assyrians, took flight over Macedonia and saw Alexander perish as she passed into Egypt and into Syria. At last arriving on Mount Palatine, she threw aside her wings and casting away her wheel, entered Rome where she took up her abode forever.
RS88846. Silver denarius, Woytek 271b, BMCRE III 306, RSC II 87, BnF IV 269, RIC II 122, Strack 149, SRCV II 3125, Choice gF, well centered, attractive style, light toning, small edge cracks, weight 3.170 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 210o, Rome mint, mid 107 - 108 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate head right, slight drapery on far shoulder; reverse COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, Fortuna standing slightly left, head left, holding tiller of grounded rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 72, part of lot 1047; $130.00 (€114.40)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

BONEVENTLIBO
DIVOTRAIANO
DIVOTRAIANOPARTHAVGPATRI
DIVVSTRAIANVSPATERAVGVSTVS
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERDACPARTHICOPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERMDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOPTIMAVGPMTRPCOSVI
IMPCAESNERVAETRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVPP
IMPCAESNERVAETRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMDACICVSPM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPMTRPPP
IMPCAESNERVATRAIANOGERM
IMPCAESNERTRAIANAVG
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDAC
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDACPARTHICOPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPCAESNERTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERM
IMPCAESTRAIANAVGGERDACPPREST
IMPCAESTRAIANAVGGERM
IMPNERVATRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPNERVACAESTRAIANAVGGERMPM
IMPNERVACAESTRAIANAVGGERMPMTRPPP
IMPNERVATRAIANVSAVGGERDACICVS
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRP
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPARTHICO
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVPP
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVDESVI
IMPTRAIANOAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPTRAIANOPTIMAVGGERMDAC
IMPTRAIANOOPTIMOAVGGERDACPMTRP
IMPTRAIANOPIOFELAVGPP
IMPTRAIANVSAVGGERDACPMTRPCOSVIPP
IMPTRAIANVSAVGGERMDACICVS


REFERENCES

Besombes, P. Bibliothèque Nationale, Catalogue des Monnaies de l'Empire Romain, IV Trajan (98-117 après J.-C.). (Paris, 2008).
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. I: De Pompeyo Magno a Matidia (Del 81 a.C. al 117 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 2: Nerva to Antoninus Pius. (Paris, 1883).
Hill, P. The Dating and Arrangement of the Undated Coins of Rome, A.D. 98-148. (London, 1970).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 3: Nerva to Hadrian. (London, 1936).
Mattingly H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II: Vespasian to Hadrian. (London, 1926).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Simic, V. & M. Vasic. "La monaie des mines romaines de I'llyrie" in RN 1977.
Strack, P. Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil 1: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Traian. (Stuttgart, 1931).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Woytek, B. Die Reichsprägung des kaisers Traianus (98-117). MIR 14. (Vienna, 2010).

Catalog current as of Monday, June 17, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Trajan