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Marcus Aurelius was recognized by Hadrian as a fine and capable youth and betrothed to the daughter of Aelius. Antoninus Pius adopted him and in 145 A.D. he married Antoninus' daughter, Faustina II. In 161 A.D., he succeeded Antoninus as Augustus, immediately proclaiming Lucius Verus his co-emperor. Although known for his adherence to the philosophy of Stoicism and as a naturally peaceful man, Marcus' reign was disturbed by war with Parthia, plague and then a long, hard war along the Danube frontier. He died on March 17th, 180 A.D. and was deified by the senate soon after.
In late summer or fall of 161, Vologases IV of Parthia captured the Roman client Kingdom of Armenia, expelled its king and installed his own; Pacorus, an Arsacid like himself. In 162, Lucius Verus began the war to recover Armenia and exact vengence. Rome recovered the Armenian capital Artaxata in 163. At the end of 163, Verus took the title Armeniacus, despite having never personally seen combat. Marcus Aurelius initially declined to accept the title, but accepted it in 164. Unfortunately the victorious army returned bringing a pandemic known as the Antonine Plague, which significantly depopulated and greatly weakened the Roman Empire.RB83578. Orichalcumsestertius, BMCRE IV 1092; RIC III 890 corr. (standard & shieldrev. r.), Cohen III 984 corr. (same), MIR 18 95, Cayon III 464, SRCV II 5013, Hunter II -, VF, well centered on a tight flan, green patina, light scrape on obverse high point, some corrosion, weight 23.68 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 164 - Aug 165 A.D.; obverse M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG ARMENIACVS P M, laureate head right; reverseVICT AVG TR P XVIII IMP IICOS III, Victory standing half right, trophy transverse upward to right in both hands, mourning Armenian captive at feet on right, captive seated right with head propped on right hand and left hand on ground, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $580.00 SALE PRICE $522.00
Posthumous commemorative struck by Marcus Aurelius' son, Commodus.
BMCRE p. 62 notes that the "spear head" variety listed by Cohen is probably from an altered die. We have, however, found coins from more than one reverse die with this object. It is not clear to us why Cohen identified this indistinct object as a spear head.RS77835. Silver denarius, RSC II 82; RIC III C271; MIR 18 478-4/10, Hunter II 4; BMCRE IV 24 var., note. p. 692, VF, small edge cracks, weight 3.130 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, 180 A.D.; obverseDIVVS M ANTONINVS PIVS, bare head right; reverseCONSECRATIO, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head right, wings open, spear head(?) in beak; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
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, while the left is raising a fold of her dress. She was also named "ultima dea" - for Hope is the last resort of men. On this coin, the Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, the designated successor of the emperor, is identified as the hope for the future of the Roman people.RS79920. Silver denarius, RIC III A479(a), BMCRE IV A960, RSC II 473, Hunter II -, SRCV II -, gVF, ragged flan, weight 3.407 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 158 - 159 A.D.; obverse AVRELIVS CAES ANTON AVG P II F, bare head right; reverseTR POT XIII COS II, Spes advancing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
The brothers Annius Verus and Commodus, sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger, were made caesars in 166 A.D. Annius Verus died at age 7 of natural causes in Rome on 10 September 169. His younger brother Commodus became his father's heir and later successor to his father's throne. The portraits are obviously unrealistic - the caesars were small boys when the coin was struck. RP84085. Bronze AE 18, RPC Online 5035 (17 spec.); BMC Lycaonia p. 191, 166; SNGvA 5993; SNG BnF 1456; SNG Levante 1018 var. (no star); SNG Cop -, F, turquoise patina, tight flan, porous, earthen deposits, weight 3.339 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 166 - 170 A.D.; obverse KOPOI CEBACTOY, confronted draped youthful busts of Annius Verus (on left) and Commodus, star over crossed club and caduceus between them; reverse temple with ten columns, eagle left with head right and wings open in pediment, KOINOC KIΛIKIAC in architrave, TAP-COY across field at center, MHTPOΠ in exergue; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Bizya, Thrace
Bizya (or Bizye) was located between Hadrianopolis and Byzantion. The first Roman imperial coins struck at Bizya, were struck under Hadrian.RP79648. Bronze AE 25, Jurukova Bizye 21, Varbanov 1437, F, nice dark green patina, centration dimples, weight 8.813 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 180o, Bizya mint, as caesar, 139 - 161 A.D.; obverse M AVPHΛIOC OYHPOC KAIC CEB, bare head right; reverse BIZYHNΩN, Herakles standing facing, head left, nude, resting right hand on grounded club, apple in left hand, Nemean lion skin draped over left forearm; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
In 167, the Marcomanni tribe attacked at Aquileia ending the Pax Romana that had kept the center of Empire free from invasion since the days of Augustus. Marcus Aurelius repelled the invaders but it was an omen of tribulations to come.RB79868. Orichalcumsestertius, RIC III 948, BMCRE IV 1318, Hunter II 124, Cohen III 815, SRCV II 5011, VF, nice portrait, tight flan, weight 19.735 g, maximum diameter 29.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 167 - 168 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX, laureate head right; reverseTR POT XXI IMP IIII COS III, Victory walking left, extending wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Koinon of Macedonia
The Macedonian Koinon (community) was the political organization governing the autonomous Roman province of Macedonia and responsible for issuing coinage. Member cities sent representatives to participate in the popular assembly. The Koinon held celebrations and games annually at Beroea (modern Verria) in honor of Alexander the Great and the Roman emperor.RB83510. Bronze AE 25, SNG Cop 1345; SNG Hunterian 730; AMNG III /2 277; Varbanov 3050 (R4) var. (Ω vice W); BMC Macedonia p. 28, 156 var. (laureate), VF, nice green patina, tight flan, cut on lower obverse, weight 11.478 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 270o, 7 Mar 161 - 17 Mar 180 A.D.; obverseKAICAP ANTWNINOC, radiatehead right; reverseKOINON MAKE∆ONWN, thunderbolt with four wings; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
Roman Empire, Anonymous, Domitian to Antoninus Pius, c. 81 - 161 A.D.
RIC identifies this type as common but it appears to be rare with the dove facing left.
Quadrantes, like quinarii, were issued only occasionally, perhaps exclusively for imperial distributions. Suetonius reported that, from the roof of the BasilicaJulia "Caligula threw coins among the people." Perhaps this small coin was thrown to the crowd by the emperor himself at a similar event.RB63623. Bronze quadrans, RIC II p. 218, 25, VF, weight 1.847 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 81 - 161 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust of Venus right; reverse dove standing left, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; rare; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ionia
"..the temple of Artemis Leukophryene, which in the size of its shrine and in the number of its votive offerings is inferior to the temple at Ephesos, but in the harmony and skill shown in the structure of the sacred enclosure is far superior to it. And in size it surpasses all the sacred enclosures in Asia except two, that at Ephesos (to Artemis) and that at Didymoi (to Apollo)" (Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 40).RP58784. Bronze AE 31, Schultz Magnesia 113 (R4), Imhoof MG 311, RPC Online -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG München -, BMC Ionia -, et al. -, aF, weight 13.406 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 0o, Magnesia ad Maeandrum mint, magistrate Diophantus; as caesar, 139 - 161 A.D.; obverse M AIΛIOC AYPHΛIOC BHPOC KAICAP, bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed young bust right; reverse ΓPAM ∆IOΦAN TOY MAΓNHTΩN, facing cult statue of Artemis Leukophryene, wearing polos and veil, flanked by two Nikes over shoulders crowning her, eagles with open wings at feet; very rare; $65.00 SALE PRICE $58.50
In 166 A.D., an epidemic known as the Antonine Plague (possibly small pox) spread from the East throughout the Roman Empire. This coin was likely dedicated to Salus to plea for her aid against the outbreak. In 169, Marcus' co-emperor, Lucius Verus, fell ill with symptoms attributed to food poisoning and died after a few days. He may have actually been a victim of the plague. Salus was slow to act. The plague continued for roughly twenty years.RB77308. Orichalcumsestertius, RIC III 979, BMCRE III 1376, MIR 18 182-6/30, Cohen III 547, Hunter III 137, cf. SRCV II 4998 (TR P XXIII), aVF, rough, weight 26.549 g, maximum diameter 30.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 169 - Dec 170 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXIIII, laureate head right; reverseSALVTI AVGCOS III, Salus standing facing, head left, from patera in right hand feeding snake rising from altar at feet on left, long scepter vertical in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00
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