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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Twelve Caesars ▸ VespasianView Options:  |  |  |   

Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

After a successful campaign in Judaea (which he left to his son Titus to finish), Flavius Vespasianus was declared emperor by his troops at Alexandria in 69 A.D. Upon the defeat of Vitellius by the Danubian legions, Vespasian went to Rome and consolidated his power. He built the Colosseum and other important public works. Vespasian was popular, being both down to earth and possessed of great wit. He was responsible for the economic and military recovery of Rome and is justly regarded as one of the greatest Roman emperors.


Vespasian the Younger, Caesar, 94 - 95 A.D., Smyrna, Ionia

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In 94 A.D., because he had no heir, Domitian adopted his two young great-nephews. He renamed them Vespasian and Domitian. The next year he executed the boys' father, his cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, and exiled the boys' mother, his niece, Flavia Domitilla. They were charged with Atheism, a charge sometimes applied to condemn converts to Judaism or Christianity. The boys then disappeared from history and their fate is unknown.

Smyrna was the only city to strike coins in the name of Vespasian the Younger. No coins were struck for his brother.

Some scholars connect Domitilla with a Roman Matron in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) and the Deuteronomy Rabbah 2.25. When the emperor had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, the Roman matron convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. If that identification is correct, her husband Flavius Clemens converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Flavia Domitilla is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
SH83453. Bronze AE 16, Klose p. 244, 3, pl. 31 (V1/R1); RPC II 1028; SNG Cop 1360; SNGvA 2208; BMC Ionia p. 276, 320, gF/F, weight 2.790 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna mint, as caesar, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse OYOCΠACIANOC NEΩTEPOC, bare head right; reverse ZMYPNAIΩN, Nike standing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Solidus Numismatik, auction 7, lot 200; rare; $1170.00 (€994.50)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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In the Roman Republic, and Empire, the curule chair (sella curulis, supposedly from currus, "chariot") was the seat upon which magistrates holding imperium were entitled to sit. This includes dictators, magistri equitum, consuls, praetors, censors, curule aediles, and the promagistrates, temporary or de facto holders of such offices. Additionally, the Flamen of Jupiter (Flamen Dialis) was also allowed to sit on a curule seat, though this position did not hold imperium. Livy writes that the three flamines maiores or high priests of the Archaic Triad of major gods were each granted the honor of the curule chair.
RS85571. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 6 (R); RSC II 541a; BMCRE II p. 8, 46; BnF III -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, VF, toned, light marks and scratches, tight flan, weight 2.899 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1st issue, 21 Dec 69 - early 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TITVS ET DOMITIAN CAESARES PRIN IV, Titus and Domitian seated left, side by side on curule chairs, each holding a laurel branch in extended right hand; rare; $480.00 (€408.00)
 


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Ephesus peaked during the 1st and 2nd century A.D. when it was second in importance and size only to Rome, with a population estimated at 400,000 to 500,000 in 100 A.D. The city was famous for the Temple of Artemis, the Library of Celsus, and its theater, seating 25,000 spectators. Ephesus also had several large bath complexes and one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world. Water powered numerous mills, one of which has been identified as a sawmill for marble. The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263 A.D., marking the decline of the city's splendor.
RS86444. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 1431; RSC II 276; RPC II 833; BnF III 351; BMCRE II 457, SRCV I 2270, gVF, attractive Eastern style, toned, bumps and marks, obverse slightly off center but full legend, weight 3.202 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesus mint, 71 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P, laureate head right; reverse PACI AVGVSTAE, Victory advancing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand, EPHE (PHE ligate) lower right; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 17 (25 Apr 2015), lot 588; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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The Roman curule chair made its way along the Silk Road to China, where it was adopted in various forms including the hu chuang (barbarian bed). In Han China, the folding chair was used out-of-doors in a military, rather than domestic, setting by the 2nd century A.D. Its foreign origin was addressed in a poem by Yu Jianwu, written about 552:

By the name handed down you are from a foreign region
coming into [China] and being used in the capital
With legs leaning your frame adjusts by itself
With limbs slanting your body levels by itself...
RS86448. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 702; RSC II 364; BMCRE II 136; BnF III 110; cf. SRCV I 2301 (COS VI), VF, superb portrait, toned, edge cracks, weight 3.432 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 74 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse PON MAX TR P COS V (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power, consul for the 5th time), Vespasian seated right on curule chair, feet on footstool, long scepter behind in right hand, olive branch in left hand; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 36 (4 Oct 2015), lot 616; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Caesarea, Cappadocia

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Kayseri, Turkey was originally named Mazaca. It was renamed Eusebia by Ariarathes V Eusebes, King of Cappadocia, 163 - 130 B.C. The last king of Cappadocia, King Archelaus, renamed it "Caesarea in Cappadocia" to honor Caesar Augustus upon his death in 14 A.D. Muslim Arabs slightly modified the name into Kaisariyah, which became Kayseri when the Seljuk Turks took control, c. 1080 A.D.
RS85572. Silver hemidrachm, RPC II 1659; Metcalf Cappadocia 17; Sydenham Cappadocia 94; BMC Galatia p. 47, 17; SNGvA 6362, gVF, well centered and struck, toned, light marks, light deposits, weight 1.452 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 0o, Cappadocia, Caesarea (Kayseri, Turkey) mint, c. 69 - 79 A.D.; obverse AYOKP KAICAP OVECΠACIANOC CEBA, laureate head right; reverse Nike advancing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm over left shoulder in left hand; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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Legio X Fretensis was garrisoned in Jerusalem. The LEGIO X FRETENSIS acquired its nick name, Fretensis, from the famous naval battle of 36 B.C. where the Tenth Legion under the command of Marcus Agrippa destroyed the forces of Sextus Pompey off the coast of Sicily. The nick name is taken from "Fretum Siculum," which loosely translates to the Straits of Sicily, near where the naval battle occurred. The galley and the dolphin in some of the countermarks of this legion refer to its Naval victories.
CM86442. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 730; BMCRE II 703; BnF III 721; Cohen I 452; SRCV I 2361; c/m: Howgego 735ii (Ascalon, c. 85/6 A.D.), Rosenberger I, p. 41, 55, coin: Fair, countermark: VF, weight 8.453 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 74 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESP AVG COS V CENS, laureate head right, countermark: X in a square punch (Legio X Fretensis); reverse Spes (hope) standing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; ex Incitatus Coins (2011); $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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Vesta was the Roman goddess of the hearth (home) and, derived from that, was important for the security of the state (homeland). Vespasian may have been especially devoted to Vesta because he was brought up by his grandmother in home that he loved and appreciated. Suetonius wrote, "He was brought up under the care of his paternal grandmother Tertulla on her estates at Cosa. Therefore, even after he became emperor he used constantly to visit the home of his infancy, where the manor house was kept in its original condition, since he did not wish to miss anything which he was wont to see there; and he was so devoted to his grandmother's memory that on religious and festival days he always drank from a little silver cup that had belonged to her." With his coinage dedicated to Vesta, Vespasian expressed his respect for home and hearth, and his dedication to security of the state.
SL85101. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 50; RSC II 574; BMCRE II 71; BnF III 55; SRCV I 2316, ANACS VF35 (5163464), Rome mint, 72 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII, laureate head right; reverse Vesta standing left, simpulum in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, VES-TA across field; certified (slabbed) by ANACS; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


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Spes was the Roman personification of Hope. In art Spes is normally depicted carrying flowers or a cornucopia, but on coins she is almost invariably depicted holding a flower in her extended right hand, and raising a fold of her dress with her left hand. She was also named "ultima dea" - for Hope is the last resort of men.
RB84861. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 894; BMCRE II 725, BnF III 757, Cohen I 457, Hunter I C3852, SRCV I -, VF, reverse rough and smoothed, weight 11.521 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 76 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESP AVG COS VII, laureate head right; reverse Spes standing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


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The caduceus, the traditional symbol of Hermes featuring two snakes around an often winged staff, is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine, instead of the Rod of Asclepius. The caduceus appeared on the chevrons of U.S. Army hospital stewards as early as 1856 and was formally adopted by the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902 and added to the uniforms of medical officers. Even the American Medical Association used the symbol for a time. In 1912, after considerable discussion, the caduceus was abandoned by the AMA and the rod of Asclepius was adopted instead. The U.S. military medical corps all now also use the more appropriate rod of Asclepius.
RS86447. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 703; RSC II 362; BMCRE II 138; BnF III 113; SRCV I 2299, VF, nice portrait, toned, weight 3.367 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 74 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TR P COS V PON MAX (holder of Tribunitian power, consul for the 5th time, high priest), winged caduceus; ex Amphora Coins, catalog 98, lot 220; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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The curule chair was for senior magistrates including dictators, masters of the horse, consuls, praetors, censors, and the curule aediles. As a form of a throne, it might be given as an honor to foreign kings recognized formally as a friend (amicus) by the Roman people or senate. Designed for use by commanders in the field, the curule chair could be folded for easy transport. It had no back, low arms, curved legs forming an X, and was traditionally made of or veneered with ivory.
RS86449. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 685 (R); RSC II 386; BnF III 119; BMCRE II p. 27, *; SRCV I -, F, toned, double struck, light marks and scratches, tight flan, weight 3.206 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 74 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESP AVG, laureate head right; reverse PONTIF MAXIM (high priest), Vespasian seated right on curule chair, feet on footstool, long scepter vertical behind in right hand, olive branch in left hand; ex Wayne C. Phillips Rare Coins; rare; $110.00 (€93.50)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

CAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
DIVVSAVGVSTVSVESPASIANVS
DIVOAVGVESPSPQR
DIVOVESPASIANO
IMPCAESARAVGVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSII
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSVTRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIAN
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSTRP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESARVESPAVG
IMPCAESARVESPAVGCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPAVGVST
IMPCAESVESPASAVG
IMPCAESVESPASAVGPMTRPPPCSIII
IMPCAESVESPASAVGTRPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIIIPP
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPASCOSIIICENS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGPMTPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIIICEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTPCOSIIIICENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPIIIIPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASAVGPMTRIPPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASIANAVG
IMPVESPAVG
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIPP
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIIIPP
TCAESVESPASIANIMPPTRPCOSII


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. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Butcher, Kevin. Coinage in Roman Syria: Northern Syria, 64 BC - AD 253. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 34. (London, 2004).
Calicó, E. Xavier. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Carradice, I.A. & T.V. Buttrey. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II, Part 1: From AD 69 to 96. (London, 2007).
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. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon, De Claude Ier à Vespasien (41-78 après J.-C.), et au temps de Clodius Albinus (196-197 après J.-C.). (Wetteren, 2000).
Giard, Jean-Baptiste. Monnaies de l'Empire romain, III Du soulèvement de 68 après J.-C. a Nerva. Catalogue Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 1998).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 2: Vespasian to Domitian. (London, 1930).
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).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Monday, December 11, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Vespasian