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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Twelve Caesars| ▸ |Otho||View Options:  |  |  |   

Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

Otho came to power after the murder of Galba in the Year of Four Emperors, 68 - 69 A.D. Otho supported Galba's revolt against Nero, in the expectation he would be named heir, but the old soldier instead named Calpurnius Piso. Otho, angered by this, conspired against them and put them both to death after being declared emperor. After a minor defeat by the forces of Vitellius, Otho committed suicide. This was perhaps the only noble act of his life - he preferred to die rather than see more blood shed in civil war.


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SH75694. Silver denarius, RIC I 19 (R2), RSC II 9, BMCRE I 6, BnF III 22, SRCV I 2158, aEF, toned, die break on obverse, flan flaw on reverse, weight 3.526 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PONT MAX (high priest), Aequitas standing left, scales in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; ex New York Sale XXVIII (5 Jan 2012), lot 1063; rare; SOLD


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With this coin Otho claimed there was peace all over the world. It was true that at the time it was struck there was peace along all the borders of the empire, which was a rare event because Rome was almost always engaged in some war with the nations and tribes that surrounded it. It was, however, an absurdity, in the midst of a civil war within the borders, to acclaim peace on the borders as peace all over the world.
SH72949. Silver denarius, RIC I 6 (R), RSC II 5, BMCRE I 4, SRCV I 2156 var. (head right), BnF III 3 var. (same), Hunter I 2 var. (same), VF, excellent portrait, attractive toning, some marks, some light corrosion mostly near rim, weight 3.290 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 2nd issue, late Jan - Feb 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head left; reverse PAX ORBIS TERRARVM (All the World at Peace), Pax standing left, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Moruzzi, Italy (1997) with their Italian export certificate of authenticity and provenance; one of the rarest coins of Otho, only 7/1000 coins in Jyrki Muona's Otho die study; extremely rare; SOLD


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From the Prof. Henry H. Armstrong collection. In 1910, when he purchased this coin, Professor Armstrong lived in Rome working as a Research Associate of the Carnegie Institution in Archaeology teaching at the American School for Classical Studies. From 1918 until his death in 1935 he taught at Beloit College as head of the Department of Romance Languages. Nicknamed "Sparky" by the students, his death after a two-week illness came as a shock to the college. His coins, inherited by his son, sat in a cigar box for the next 74 years.
SH39592. Silver denarius, RIC I 8 (R2), RSC II 17, BMCRE I 18, BnF III 10, Hunter I C3807, SRCV I 2162, VF, beautiful rainbow toning, weight 3.057 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Feb - Mar 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse SECVRITAS P R (security of the people of Rome), Securitas standing slightly left, head left, wreath in right hand, long scepter in left hand; exceptional full flan and beautiful old "cigar box" collection rainbow toning; from the Prof. Henry H. Armstrong collection, handwritten envelope notes, "Alcott sold for $3.50 for very good. Purchase, Champion, 1910."; rare; SOLD


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Otho first appears as one of the most reckless and extravagant of the young nobles who surrounded Nero. This friendship was brought to an end in 58 A.D. At her insistence, Otho introduced his beautiful wife, Poppaea Sabina, to the Emperor. Poppaea soon became Nero's mistress, divorced Otho, and had Nero send Otho away as governor to the remote province of Lusitania. Otho remained in Lusitania for the next ten years, administering the province with a moderation unusual at the time. When in 68 A.D. his neighbor, the future Emperor Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, rose in revolt against Nero, Otho accompanied him to Rome. Resentment toward Nero may have impelled him to this course, but he was soon inspired by personal ambition.
SH28061. Silver denarius, RIC I 8 (R2), RSC II 17, BMCRE I 18, BnF III 10, Hunter I C3807, SRCV I 2162, gVF/F, exceptional portrait, weight 2.963 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Feb-Mar 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse SECVRITAS P R (security of the people of Rome), Securitas standing slightly left, head left, wreath in right hand, long scepter in left hand; rare; SOLD


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With this coin Otho claimed there was peace all over the world. It was true that at the time it was struck there was peace along all the borders of the empire, which was a rare event because Rome was almost always engaged in some war with the nations and tribes that surrounded it. It was, however, an absurdity, in the midst of a civil war within the borders, to acclaim peace on the borders as peace all over the world.
SH75695. Silver denarius, RIC I 4 (R), RSC II 3, BMCRE I 3, BnF III 3, SRCV I 2156, VF, superb portrait, nice toning, scratches, reverse center flatly struck, weight 3.518 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - Feb 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PAX ORBIS TERRARVM (All the World at Peace), Pax standing left, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; rare; SOLD


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extremely rare spelling error (OTHONS vice OTHONIS) known from a single reverse die.

This Victory type was likely struck in anticipation of the upcoming war with Vitellius.
SH41725. Silver denarius, Unpublished variant; cf. RIC I 16 (R3), RSC II 24, BMCRE I 24, BnF III 24, SRCV I 2165 (all OTHONIS), aVF/F, weight 3.155 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - Feb 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse VICTORIA OTHONS (sic), Victory walking left, wreath extended in right hand, palm frond in left hand; extremely rare; SOLD


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Gaius Licinius Mucianus (named on this coin) was governor of Syria. When he failed to put down the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was sent to replace him. After the death of Galba, Mucianus and Vespasian both swore allegiance to Otho. Mucianus persuaded Vespasian to take up arms against Vitellius, who had seized the throne. They agreed Vespasian would settle affairs in the East, while Mucianus made would attack Vitellius. On his way to Rome, Mucianus defeated a Dacian invasion of Moesia. Mucianus reached Rome the day after Vitellius' death. Mucianus never wavered in his allegiance to Vespasian and was appointed consul for the third time in 72. As no mention is made of Mucianus during the reigns of Titus or Domitian, he probably died during the reign of Vespasian.
RP85562. Bronze AE 28, McAlee 319 (ex. rare, same dies), cf. RPC 4316 (not specifying obverse legend direction), aVF, nice portrait, dark patina with buff earthen highlighting, spots of light corrosion, obverse legend mostly weak or off flan, weight 11.757 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 15 Jan 69 - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse [IMP M OT]-HO - [CAE AVG] (counterclockwise from upper left), head laureate right, dot in field behind; reverse EΠI / MOYKIA/NOY AN/TIOXEΩ/N ET ZIP (legate Mucianus, of Antioch, year 117) in five lines within a linear circle in a laurel wreath; this variant with a counterclockwise obverse legend is extremely rare; ex Gemini auction XIII (6 Apr 2017), lot 158, ex Jyrki Muona Collection; SOLD


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With this coin Otho claimed there was peace all over the world. It was true that at the time it was struck there was peace along all the borders of the empire, which was a rare event because Rome was almost always engaged in some war with the nations and tribes that surrounded it. It was, however, an absurdity, in the midst of a civil war within the borders, to acclaim peace on the borders as peace all over the world.
SH72951. Silver denarius, RSC II 4a, RIC I -, BMCRE I -, BnF III -, Hunter I -, SRCV I -, VF, nice toning, a few bumps and scratches, weight 3.335 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, late Feb - early Mar 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PAX ORBIS TERRARVM (All the World at Peace), Pax standing left, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Freeman & Sear Mail Bid Sale 13 (2006), lot 437; not in RIC - this is the much rarer later variety without M between IMP and OTHO, 45/1000 coins in Jyrki Muona's Otho die study; very rare; SOLD


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Vesta was originally a household spirit but was later personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta her flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins.
SH68892. Silver denarius, RIC I 24 (R3), RSC II 7, BMCRE I 11, BnF III 29, SRCV I 2161, VF/F, scratches, weight 3.321 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PONT MAX (high priest), Vesta seated left, veiled, patera in right hand, scepter in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare; SOLD


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Otho wore a wig and on some of his coin portraits, such as this one, it seems you can actually see the wig.
SH87606. Silver denarius, RIC I 8 (R2), RSC II 17, BMCRE I 18, BnF III 10, Hunter I C3807, SRCV I 2162, VF, superb portrait, crowded flan, some bumps and scratches, uneven toning, weight 3.366 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Feb - Mar 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse SECVRITAS P R (security of the people of Rome), Securitas standing slightly left, head left, wreath in right hand, long scepter in left hand; rare; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

IMPMOTHOCAESARAVGTRP
IMPOTHOCAESARAVGTRP


REFERENCES|

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry & P.P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplement).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. One: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Butcher, K., M. Ponting & J. Muona. "The denarii of Otho: a stylistic and compositional study" in La Rivista Italiana di Numismatica 110 (2009), pp. 291 - 310.
Calicó, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Monnaies de l'Empire romain, III Du soulèvement de 68 après J.-C. a Nerva. Catalogue Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 1998).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol 1: Augustus to Vitellius. (London, 1923).
Muona, J. "The Rome mint coins of Marcus Salvius Otho" in Tutkimusta ja keräilyä, Suomen numismaattinen yhdistys 1914 - 2014., pp. 16 - 27.
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sutherland, C.H.V. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. I, From 39 BC to AD 69. (London, 1984).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Otho