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

Galba, 3 April 68 - 15 January 69 A.D.

Galba was governor of Hispania Tarraconensis when he was proclaimed emperor by his troops. The Senate recognized his authority in Jul 68. His avarice, ruthlessness, and refusal to pay a promised donative to the praetorian guards made him unpopular. He was assassinated in a conspiracy plotted by Otho.

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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. coins.
SH30337. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 387, Cohen I 108, Choice VF, weight 24.415 g, maximum diameter 34.9 mm, die axis 195o, Rome mint, c. Oct 68 A.D; obverse SER GALBA IMP CAESAR AVG TR P, laureate draped bust right; reverse LIBERTAS PVBLICA (freedom of the people), Liberty standing half left, pileus in right, rod in left, S - C (Senatus Consulto) across fields; "Tiber" patina, nice round flan, some smoothing; SOLD

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Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. The earliest certain cult to dea Roma was established at Smyrna in 195 B.C., probably to mark the successful alliance against Antiochus III. In 30/29 B.C., the Koinon of Asia and Bithynia requested permission to honor Augustus as a living god. "Republican" Rome despised the worship of a living man, but an outright refusal might offend their loyal allies. A cautious formula was drawn up, non-Romans could only establish a cult for divus Augustus jointly with dea Roma. In the city of Rome itself, the earliest known state cult to dea Roma was combined with Venus at the Hadrianic Temple of Venus and Roma. This was the largest temple in the city, probably dedicated to inaugurate the reformed festival of Parilia, which was known thereafter as the Romaea after the Eastern festival in Roma's honor. The temple contained the seated, Hellenised image of dea Roma with a Palladium in her right hand to symbolize Rome's eternity.
SH37368. Orichalcum sestertius, Kraay Officina D, obverse die A55 (pl. XVIII), new reverse die; BMCRE I 87; BnF III 115; RIC I 240; Cohen I 170 (6 Fr.), VF, weight 25.790 g, maximum diameter 35.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 68 - 69 A.D.; obverse SER GALBA IMP CAES AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse ROMA S C, Roma seated left on cuirass and two shields, right foot on helmet, spear in right; ex Harlan J. Berk; ex Thomas D. Walker Collection (1980s); excellent portrait; SOLD

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With this coin Galba asserts that he has restored freedom, but this was empty propaganda. Galba was notoriously cruel, sentenced many to death without trial, raised taxes, and rarely accepted requests for citizenship.
RS72971. Silver denarius, RIC I 7 (R2); BMCRE I 197, BnF III 4, RSC I 132, Hunter I -, SRCV I -, VF, lightly toned, lightly etched surfaces, weight 3.204 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Tarraco mint, April - late 68 A.D.; obverse GALBA IMPERATOR, laureate head right; reverse LIBERTAS RESTITVTA (liberty restored), head of Libertas right, hair knotted behind, wearing pearl necklace; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Artcoins auction 6 (10 Dec 2012), lot 800 (the one and only sale of this type on Coin Archives); extremely rare; SOLD

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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. The shield in the center commemorates the golden shield awarded to Augustus by the Senate for his virtue, piety, justice and clemency, which was kept on display in the Curia Iulia.
SH72982. Silver denarius, RIC I 47 (R2), RSC II 282, BMCRE I 190, BnF III 28, Hunter I 71, SRCV I -, VF, hoard patina, some smoothing around bust, weight 3.439 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 180o, Tarraco mint, 3 Apr - Aug 68 A.D.; obverse GALBA IMPERATOR, laureate head right, globe at point of bust; reverse S P Q R on round shield, surrounded by oak-wreath; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; ex CNG e-auction 202 (14 Jan 2009), lot 195; ex White Mountain Collection; very rare; SOLD

Roman Civil Wars, Revolt of Galba, Governor of Spain, April - June 68 A.D.

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Galba lived in Tarraco for eight years. This coin was issued by Galba as governor of Spain in revolt against Nero. The obverse is copied from Republican denarii struck in 62 B.C. by the moneyer L. Scribonius Libo.
SH63560. Silver denarius, RIC I 9 (R4), RSC II 396, BMCRE I 9, SRCV I 2072, F, toned, weight 3.515 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 225o, Tarraco(?) mint, Apr - Jun 68 A.D.; obverse BON EVENT, young female head (Bonus Eventus) right, fillet around forehead; reverse ROM RENASC, Roma standing right in military garb, Victory on globe in right hand, eagle-tipped scepter over left shoulder in left; bargain priced for this interesting R4 rarity implying the restoration of the Republic!, from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare (R4); SOLD

Galba, 3 April 68 - 15 January 69 A.D.

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On this reverse, Galba is depicted as a vigorous soldier, with a full head of hair. He was, in fact, sixty-five years old, bald, and his feet and hands were so crippled by arthritis that he could not wear shoes, or hold a book, let alone ride a horse. He had a growth on his left side which was held in by a corset. He was so feeble that he had to be carried in a litter.
SH72988. Silver denarius, RIC I 145 (R), BMCRE I 21, RSC II 93, SRCV I 2104, BnF III -, Hunter I -, VF, excellent portrait, toned, high-points a little flat, weight 3.437 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. Jul - Aug 68 A.D.; obverse SER GALBA AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse Galba on horseback prancing right, right arm thrown up and back, IMP below; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Lanz auction 135 (21 May 2007), lot 564; only two on Coin Archives, one of which is this coin, and it is the nicer of the two; very rare; SOLD

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This coin is dedicated to Rome reborn, presumably due to the leadership of Galba. To Galba it seems rebirth primary concerned an attempt to restore state finances. To this end he undertook a number of unpopular measures, the most dangerous was his refusal to pay the praetorians the reward promised to them in his name. Galba scorned the notion that soldiers should be "bribed" for their loyalty. According to the historian Suetonius, Galba levied massive taxes against areas that were slow to receive him as emperor.
SH30315. Silver denarius, RIC I 229 (R2), RSC II 208, BnF III 103, SRCV I 2107, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, gVF, toned, weight 3.055 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Nov 68 - 15 Jan 69; obverse IMP SER GALBA CAESAR AVG, laureate bust right; reverse ROMA RENASCES (Rome Reborn), Roma standing left, Victory on globe presenting wreath in right hand, long eagle-tipped scepter transverse in left; slightly flat strike from high relief dies, well centered, old cabinet toning; rare (R2); SOLD

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On 8 June 68, the Roman Senate accepted Galba as emperor. The following day, four miles outside Rome, after being deserted by the Praetorian Guard, Nero committed suicide by stabbing himself in the throat.
SH63654. Orichalcum sestertius, BnF III 197, BMCRE I 81, Cohen I 185, RIC I 359 var. (draped), SRCV I -, F, superb portrait, smoothing, weight 24.250 g, maximum diameter 34.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. Oct 68 A.D.; obverse IMP SER GALBA CAES AVG P M TR P, laureate head right; reverse Roma standing left, Victory on globe in right presenting wreath, spear vertical behind in left, S - C / RO-MA in two lines across field; scarce; SOLD

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In June of 68, after Nero committed suicide, and Galba was made emperor. Galba's concord with the provinces advertised on this coin was wishful thinking. Legions in Germania Inferior soon acclaimed Vitellius as emperor. The following year, 69 A.D. would be The Year of the Four Emperors, when Rome was ruled in rapid succession by Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.The Roman Civil War AD 68 - 69
SH68883. Silver denarius, RIC I 120, RSC II 38, BMCRE I 223, Hunter I 78, SRCV I 2100 var. (obv leg), VF, excellent portrait, toned, porous, weight 3.334 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 225o, Narbo(?) mint, c. Oct - Dec 68 A.D.; obverse SER•GALBA•IMP•CAESAR•AVG•P•M•TR•P•, laureate head right; reverse CONCORDIA PROVINCIARVM (harmony with the provinces), Concordia standing half left, olive branch in right hand, cornucopia in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; rare (R2); SOLD

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Otho expected Galba to make him caesar, but Galba selected Piso. Otho roused the discontented Praetorians who hailed him as their emperor on 15 January 69. Galba at once set out to meet the rebels, though he was so feeble that he had to be carried in a litter. According to Suetonius, Galba had put on a linen corset, remarking that it offered little protection against so many swords. He was met by a troop of Otho's cavalry and was killed near Lacus Curtius. One guard, centurion Sempronius Densus, died defending him. Piso was killed shortly afterward. According to Plutarch, during Galba's last moments he offered his neck, and said, "Strike, if it be for the good of the Romans!" After his death, Galba's head was brought to Otho, who gave it to his camp followers who paraded and mocked it. The head was then bought by a freedman so he could throw it on the place where his former master had been executed on Galba's orders. Later Galba's steward buried both his head and trunk in a tomb by the Aurelian Road.
RS72983. Silver denarius, RIC I 193 (R2), BMCRE I 16, RSC II 83, BnF III 89, Hunter I 1 var. (no CAESAR, Aug - Oct 68), SRCV I 2103 var. (same), VF, elegant style, light toning on nice surfaces, high-points flatly struck, weight 3.512 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Nov 68 - Jan 69 A.D.; obverse IMP SER GALBA CAESAR AVG, laureate head right; reverse HISPANIA (counterclockwise starting on left), Hispania advancing left, draped, poppy and two stalks of grain in extended right hand, round shield and two transverse spears in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; a very rare late issue - none on Coin Archives; SOLD


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American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online -
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Catalog current as of Tuesday, November 19, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Galba