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Dates of operation: c. 289 - 40 B.C. and 20 B.C. - 476 A.D. Mintmarks: R, RM, ROM, ROMA, ROMOB, VRB ROM, SMR.
Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D.
This type was the first portrait sestertius struck at the mint of Rome. The wreath on the reverse is the corona civica, the oak wreath awarded to Roman citizens ex senatus consulto (by special decree of the Senate) for saving the life of another citizen by slaying an enemy in battle. It became a prerogative for Roman emperors to be awarded the Civic Crown, originating with Augustus, who was awarded it in 27 B.C. for saving the lives of citizens by ending the series of civil wars.SH94041. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 37, BMCRE I 38, Cohen I 24, BnF II 50, Hunter I 15, SRCV I -, Choice VF, well centered, attractive style, dark reddish brown patina, highest point of bust a little weakly struck, weight 28.089 g, maximum diameter 35.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse S P Q R / P P / OB CIVES / SERVATOS (from the Senate and people of Rome to the father of the country for saving the citizens) in four lines within Corona Civica oak wreath; ex Nomos Obolos auction 9 (25 March 2018), 160; ex Stoecklin Collection (Amriswil, Switzerland, acquired prior to 1975, see The Story of the Stoecklin Collection); $3280.00 SALE |PRICE| $2952.00
Didius Julianus, 28 March - 2 June 193 A.D.
193 A.D. - The Year of Five Emperors. On 1 January, the Senate selected Pertinax, against his will, to succeed the late Commodus as Emperor. The Praetorian Guard assassinated him on 28 March and auctioned the throne to the highest bidder, Didius Julianus, who offered 300 million sesterces. Outraged by the Praetorians, legions in Illyricum select Septimius Severus as emperor; in Britannia the legions select their governor Clodius Albinus, and in Syria the legions select their governor Pescennius Niger. On 1 June Septimius Severus entered the capital, put Julianus put to death and replaced the Praetorian Guard with his own troops. Clodius Albinus allied with Severus and accepted the title of Caesar. Pescennius Niger was defeated, killed and his head displayed in RomeSH89752. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 14a; Woodward, Didius, p. 79 (dies 11/E); Banti 1, Nice F, excellent portrait, attractive dark brown patina, typical tight flan, weight 18.230 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 28 Mar - 2 Jun 193 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M DID SEVER IVLIAN AVG, laureate head right; reverse CONCORD MILIT (harmony with the soldiers), Concordia Militum standing half left, head left, legionary aquila (eagle) standard in right hand, signum standard in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field below center; ex CNG e-auction 276 (21 Mar 2012), lot 420 (sold for $2520 including buyer's fees); rare; $1980.00 SALE |PRICE| $1782.00
Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D.
This type was the first portrait sestertius struck at the mint of Rome. The wreath on the reverse is the corona civica, the oak wreath awarded to Roman citizens ex senatus consulto (by special decree of the Senate) for saving the life of another citizen by slaying an enemy in battle. It became a prerogative for Roman emperors to be awarded the Civic Crown, originating with Augustus, who was awarded it in 27 B.C. for saving the lives of citizens by ending the series of civil wars.SH94039. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 37, BMCRE I 38, Cohen I 24, BnF II 50, Hunter I 15, SRCV I -, VF, good style portrait, well centered on a tight flan, corrosion, weight 25.093 g, maximum diameter 34.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse S P Q R / P P / OB CIVES / SERVATOS (from the Senate and people of Rome to the father of the country for saving the citizens) in four lines within Corona Civica oak wreath; ex Savoca auction 34 (16 Jun 2019), 365; $1800.00 SALE |PRICE| $1620.00
Nerva, 18 September 96 - 25 January 98 A.D.
Nerva maintained that he had liberated Rome from the tyranny of Domitian and restored a constitutionally-based regime. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. and many Mexican coins.SH94036. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC II 86, BMCRE III 112, BnF III 100, Cohen II 114, SRCV II 3050, Hunter I -, Choice gVF, well centered, nice portrait, mottled patina, scattered tiny pits, weight 19.627 g, maximum diameter 34.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - Sep 97 A.D.; obverse IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P, laureate head right; reverse LIBERTAS PVBLICA (freedom of the people), Libertas standing left, pileus liberatis (freedom cap) in right hand, staff in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $1570.00 SALE |PRICE| $1413.00
Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.
Annona was the goddess of harvest and Ceres the goddess of agriculture. This reverse refers to the transportation of grain by sea from the provinces (especially from Africa) and its distribution to the people. By the Code De Naviculariis, the mariners appointed to carry grain from Egypt could be executed if they did not keep the proper course; and if they did not sail in the proper season, the master of the vessel would be banished.SH94037. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 137, BMCRE I 128, Mac Dowall WCN 119, BnF II 273 var. (NERO CLAVDIVS...), Cohen I 24 var. (same), Hunter I -, SRCV I -, VF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, pin-prick pitting, weight 26.678 g, maximum diameter 35.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right wearing aegis; reverse ANNONA AVGVSTI CERES, Annona standing right, right hand on hip, cornucopia in left hand, facing Ceres enthroned left, holding grain-ears in right hand, torch in left hand, modius on garlanded altar in center between them, ship's stern in background, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; ex Pegasi Numismatics; $1350.00 SALE |PRICE| $1215.00
Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D.
The rare double sestertius denomination, distinguished by its radiate crown, was introduced with this issue. The denomination was also issued by Gallienus and especially by Postumus.
Trajan Decius, a general under Philip I, was sent to crush the revolt of Pacatian but was forced by his troops to declare himself emperor. He defeated Philip in a great battle at Verona. Decius spent the rest of his short reign combating barbarians. In June 251, Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus became the first Roman emperors to die in battle against a foreign enemy.SH94035. Orichalcum double sestertius, RIC IV 115(a) (R), Hunter III 42, Cohen V 39, SRCV III 9395, NGC XF, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, removed from NGC holder, flaws on obverse, edge crack, weight 34.843 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 249 - 251 A.D.; obverse IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, slight drapery on far shoulder (as normal for similar busts, not described in references except in Hunter); reverse FELICITAS SAECVLI (era of good fortune), Felicitas standing slightly left, head left, grounded long caduceus in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at center; ex Pegasi sale 154 (21 Aug 2018), lot 425 ($2950 on tag, $2500 estimate, unsold), big 35 mm DOUBLE Sestertius!; rare; $1260.00 SALE |PRICE| $1134.00
Balbinus, 22 April - 29 July 238 A.D.
Providentia is the personification of the ability to foresee and make provision. She was among the embodiments of virtues that were part of the Imperial cult of ancient Rome. Providentia apparently did not favor Balbinus. If he had a little foresight, he would have modified the chain of events that led to his murder after a reign of only 99 days.SH92614. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 19, BMCRE VI 34, Cohen V 24 (12 fr.), Hunter III 19, SRCV III 8499, Choice gVF, well centered, excellent portrait, squared flan as typical for the period, some light corrosion, tiny edge crack, weight 21.840 g, maximum diameter 31.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 22 Apr - 29 Jul 238 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES D CAEL BALBINVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse PROVIDENTIA DEORVM (to the foresight of the gods), Providentia standing half left, head left, wand downward over globe at feet in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection, ex H. Donald Collection; scarce; $1200.00 SALE |PRICE| $1080.00
Lucilla, Augusta c. 164 - 182 A.D., Wife of Lucius Verus
For Roman wives, piety often meant accepting neglect. It was not considered adultery for a Roman husband to have sex with slaves or unmarried women. The historian Spartianus wrote that after Lucilla complained, Lucius Verus reproached her: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis" (Wife is the name of dignity, not bliss).RB92463. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 1756, BMCRE IV 1161, Cohen III 54, Hunter II 27, SRCV II 5505, VF, nice portrait, flow lines, well centered on a squared flan, light bumps and scratches, weight 26.206 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 330o, Rome mint, 164 - 166 A.D.; obverse LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust right, hair waived and knotted in chignon low at back; reverse PIETAS, Pietas standing left, veiled, right hand extended over flaming altar at feet on left, incense box in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $500.00 SALE |PRICE| $450.00
Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.
Ceres a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships, was listed among the Di Consentes, Rome's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.SH92409. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC II-1 T334 (R2), BnF III T246 var., Hunter I T21 var., BMCRE II 237 var., SRCV I 2687 var., Cohen I 32 var. (all var. bust right), F, nice portrait, well centered on a broad flan, light marks, light corrosion, weight 18.218 g, maximum diameter 29.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 80 A.D.; obverse CAES DIVI AVG VESP F DOMITIAN COS VII, laureate and draped bust left; reverse CERES AVGVST, Ceres standing left, holding grain ears and torch; from the Errett Bishop Collection; with head left this type is missing from all references except the new RIC II-1, zero sales recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; very rare; $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00
Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.
Annona was worshiped in Rome as the goddess who prospered the year's supply of grain. She was represented on an altar in the capital. The three principal granaries of Rome were Sicily, Egypt, and the African provinces. Annona civilis was the grain which purchased each year by the Roman state, then imported and put into storage, reserved and distributed for the subsistence of the people. Annona militaris was grain appropriated to the use of an army during a campaign. RB92442. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC III 993; Strack III 1129; BMCRE IV p. 342, * (refs Strack); Hunter II 342; SRCV II -; Cohen II -, gVF, superb portrait and reverse style, attractive toned brass surfaces, marks, some porosity, tight flan, weight 11.118 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 156 - 157 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II, radiate head right; reverse TR POT XXI COS IIII (holder of Tribunitian power 21 years, consul 4 times), Annona standing slightly left, head left, two stalks of grain downward in right hand, modius at feet left overflowing with grain, rudder in left hand resting on prow at feet on right, S - C (senatus consulto) divided across field at center; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $300.00 SALE |PRICE| $270.00