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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Severan Period ▸ Septimius SeverusView Options:  |  |  |   

Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

Septimius Severus, a native of Leptis Magna, Africa was proclaimed emperor by his troops after the murder of Pertinax. He is at the same time credited with strengthening and reviving an empire facing imminent decline and, through the same policies that saved it, causing its eventual fall. Severus eliminated the dangerous praetorians, unified the empire after turmoil and civil war, strengthened the army, defeated Rome's most powerful enemy, and founded a successful dynasty. His pay increases for the army, however, established a severe burden on Rome. Future emperors were expected to increase pay as well. These raises resulted in ever-increasing taxes that damaged the economy. Some historians believe high taxes, initiated by Severus policies, played a significant role in Rome's long-term decline. In 208 A.D., he traveled to Britain to embarked on revitalization after a disastrous barbarian invasion. He died in York in 211 A.D and was succeeded by his sons, Caracalla and Geta.

Click here to read more about Septimius Severus.


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Hebros is the Romanized version of the original Thracian Ebros. Today it is the Maritsa river or, in Greece, the Evros. The river enters the Aegean Sea near Enez. The lower course of the Maritsa/Evros forms part of the Bulgarian-Greek border and most of the Greek-Turkish border. The upper Maritsa valley runs east-west in Bulgaria. The unnavigable river is used for power production and irrigation.

The Three Graces, named Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia, were the attendants of Venus (Aphrodite).
SH74540. Brass AE 31, Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana 27 (V13/R24), Varbanov III 2739, SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, F, well centered, cleaning scratches, smoothing, weight 11.934 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, die axis 15o, Traianopolis mint, hegemon Statilus Barbarus; obverse AYK Λ CEΠ - CEYHPOC Π, laureate head right; reverse HΓ CTATI BAPBAPOY TPAIANOΠO−ΛITΩN, River-god Hebrus reclining left on upturned urn; the Charites (the Three Graces) behind his legs standing facing; left and middle Charites with heads right, left Charis holding rod(?), middle Charis holding apple; big 31 mm bronze!; very rare; $580.00 (€516.20)
 


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Issued to commemorate victory in Britain. Between 208 and 210 A.D., Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla campaigned into Scotland (then Caledonia) and also restored Hadrian's Wall. The victories in the north pacified the island for the remainder of the century, but the aged Septimius died at Eburacum (York) in 211 A.D.
SH83529. Silver denarius, RIC IV 332 (S); RSC III 727; BMCRE V p. 366, 51; Hunter III 108; SRCV II 6382, Choice gVF, some luster, perfect centering, nice portrait, light toning, small edge cracks, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 210 - 211 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIAE BRIT (victories over the British), Victory advancing right, raising wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand over left shoulder; scarce; $450.00 (€400.50)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Augusta Traiana, Thrace

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Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria today) was founded by Trajan, c. 106 A.D. During 2nd - 3rd century A.D., it was the second largest city in Roman Thrace, after Philippopolis, and was fortified by strong walls. The city struck bronze coins from the time of Marcus Aurelius to Gallienus.
RP83509. Brass AE 31, Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana 163, Varbanov II 1009 (R7), SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, F, well centered, centration dimples, weight 15.997 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 0o, Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AV K Λ CEΠTI - CEVHPOC Π, laureate head right; reverse AVΓOVCT-HC TRAIAN-HC, tetrastyle temple on raised platform, flanked on each side by a tree and a stag leaping outward, Artemis standing right within the temple, holding bow in left hand and drawing arrow from quiver on shoulder with right hand; big 31 mm bronze!; very rare; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


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Adventus reverse types commemorate the emperor's arrival at Rome, either at the commencement of his reign or on his return from a distance. In 202, Septimius Severus returned to Rome after a five year absence. Festivals were held to celebrate his six year reign. Severus made changes in the imperial government, giving the Roman army a dominant role, raising pay in the legions, and permitting legionaries to marry in order to secure their loyalty.
RS76380. Silver denarius, RIC IV 248 (S); RSC III 1; BMCRE V p. 213, 304; Hunter III 79; SRCV II 6255, VF, toned, broad flan with a few small edge cracks, weight 3.454 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 202 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse ADVENT AVGG, Severus on horseback left, bare-headed, in military garb, raising right hand, spear in left hand; in front of him a soldier walking left, holding vexillum and leading the horse by its bridle; ex CNG auction 148 (20 Sep 2006), lot 357; ex Robert Kutcher Collection; scarce; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

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The first of Herakles' twelve labors, set by King Eurystheus (his cousin), was to slay the Nemean lion and bring back its skin. It could not be killed with mortal weapons because its golden fur was impervious to attack. Its claws were sharper than swords and could cut through any armor. Herakles stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense strength, strangled it to death. During the fight, the lion bit off one of his fingers. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt but failed. Wise Athena, noticing the hero's plight, told him to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt.
RP77125. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.14.7 (R4), AMNG I/I 1308, Moushmov 1009, Varbanov -, SNG Cop -, VF, nice style, some marks and corrosion, weight 12.9 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 225o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, consular legate Aurelius Gallus, 201 - 203 A.D.; obverse AV K Λ CE CEVHPOC Π, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VΠ AVP ΓAΛΛOV NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC I (OV ligate), Herakles standing slightly right, nude, leaning on grounded club in right hand, patera in left hand, Nemean lion draped over left arm; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Pautalia, Thrace

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The site of Pautalia (modern Kyustendil, Bulgaria) was settled in the Iron Age by the Thracian Dentheletes tribe. It was located near thermal springs and remains of the ancient city include a temple of Asklepios and Roman baths. In the 1990s, excavation of nearby 2nd century A.D. tumuli unearthed bronze surgical instruments and a small bronze case containing a variety of medicines.
RP63965. Bronze AE 30, Ruzicka 264 (same reverse die), Varbanov II 4653, SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, aF, smoothing, weight 26.306 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, die axis 180o, Pautalia (Kyustendil, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AYT K Λ CEΠTI CEYHPOC ΠEP CEB, laureate head right.; reverse HΓE K AIΛIOY ONEPATOY OYΛΠIAC ΠAYTAΛIAC, tetrastyle temple seen in three-quarters perspective, no steps, Apollo-Bonus Eventus standing within, flanked by a tree left and another right; thick sestertius-like flan; rare; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


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The as is a rare denomination for Septimius Severus.
SH66874. Copper as, RIC IV 683, BMCRE V 527A, Cohen IV 313 (4 Fr), VF, weight 11.298 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 194 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP IIII, laureate head right; reverse MARS PATER, Mars walking right, nude but for helmet and cloak over shoulder flying behind, transverse spear in right hand, trophy of captured arms in left over shoulder; very rare; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


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Septimius Severus was the commander of Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix when Pertinax was murdered in 193 B.C. After the victory against Didius Julianus, most coins of the legionary series coins honored the soldiers who made their commander an emperor. The legion was raised by Octavian, who made the capricorn its symbol (depicted on coins as well). It is one of the legions that participated in the invasion of Britain under Claudius and later defeated queen Boudica receiving the Martia Victrix cognomen from Nero. The legion later moved to Gaul, then Germany where it participated in Saturninus' rebellion. Domitian moved it further East to Pannonia replacing the XXIth Rapax which was destroyed by the Sarmatians. Trajan used it in his Dacian wars. Lucius Verus used it in his Parthian war and Marcus Aurelius used Carnumtum as headquarters for three years during the Marcomannic wars. Only 18 specimens in the Reka Devnia hoard.
RS83527. Silver denarius, RIC IV 14 (S); RSC III 272; BMCRE V p. 22, 19; Hunter III 5; SRCV II 6302, gVF, superb portrait, reverse a little weak, some reverse die wear, edge cracks, weight 3.084 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 193 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG, laureate head right; reverse LEG XIIII GEM M V, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards topped with wreaths and decorated with Capricorns, TR P COS in exergue; scarce; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

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In Greek mythology, Priapus was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism. He became a popular figure in Roman erotic art and Latin literature, and is the subject of the often humorously obscene collection of verse called the Priapeia.
RP79973. Bronze AE 17, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.17.3 (R5), AMNG I/I 1380, Moushmov 987, Varbanov I 2632 (R3), SNG Cop -, gF, well centered, green patina, areas of light corrosion, weight 2.556 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 90o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.; obverse AV KAI CEΠ CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛI-TΩN ΠPOC IC, Priapus standing half left, nude, with enormous phallus; $180.00 (€160.20)
 


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Neptune was the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers presided over the realms of Heaven, the earthly world, and the Underworld. Salacia was his consort. Neptune was likely associated with fresh water springs before the sea. Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshiped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing.
RS79955. Silver denarius, RIC IV 241; RSC III 542; BMCRE V p. 326, 26; Hunter III 76 var. (no BRIT); cf. SRCV II 6350 (TR P XIX, 211 A.D.), Choice EF, superb portrait, excellent centering, Neptune's head flatly struck, edge cracks, weight 3.176 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 210 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XVIII COS III P P, Neptune standing left, nude but for chlamys draped over left shoulder and right forearm, right hand resting on upper right leg, right foot on rock, long trident vertical in left hand; $170.00 (€151.30)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

DIVOSEPTIMIOSEVEROPIO
DIVOSEVERO
DIVOSEVEROPIO
FELICITASPVBLICA
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSAVG
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSPAV
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSPAVG
IMPCLSEPTISEVERVSPPAVG
IMPCALSESEVERAGCOSII
IMPCALSEPSEVPERAVGCOSII
IMPCALSEPSEVPERTAVGOCS
IMPCAELSEPPERTAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCIIC
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOIII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOSI
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGIIC
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGIICO
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTIAVGIIII
IMPCAELSEPTSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAELSEPTSEVPERTAVGNC
IMPCAESLSEPSEVERVSPERTAVG
IMPCAESLSEPTSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAESSEVEPERTINAXAVG
IMPLCAESSEPTSEVPERTAVGTRPVI
IMPPINVICTPIIAVGG
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGIMIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPVIMPXIPARPM
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXIPARDN
LSEPTSEVAVGIMPXI
LSEPTSEVAVGIMPXIPARTMAX
LSEPTSEVPERETAVGIMPI
LSEPTSEVPERETAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMP
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPI
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPIIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPV
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVI
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVIIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPX
LSEPTSEVPERTEAVGIMP
LSEPTSEVPERTEAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPRTEAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVERPERETIMPI
LSEPTSEVERPERTAVGIMPVIII
LSEPTSEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIIII
LSEPTSEVERVSPERAVGPIVIMPXIPARTMAX
LSEPTSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXI
LSEPTSEVERVSPIVSAVG
LSEPTSEVERVSPIVSAVGBRIT
LSEPTIMIVSSEVERVSPERTINAXAVGIMPIIII
LSEPTIMIVSSEVERVSPIVSAVG
SEVERPAVGPMTRPXCOSIII
SEVERPAVGPMTRPXICOSIII
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAX
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIII
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIIII
SEVERVSPIVSAVG
SEVERVSPIVSAVGBRIT
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPVIIII
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPX
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPXI
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPXII
SEVERVSPIVSAVGVSTVS


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Bickford-Smith, R. "The imperial mints in the east for Septimius Severus: it is time to begin a thorough reconsideration" in RIN XCVI (1994/1995), pp. 53-71.
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. II: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 4: Septimius Severus to Maximinus Thrax. (Paris, 1884).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. IV: From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 5: Pertinax to Elagabalus. (London, 1950).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & Sear, D. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. III, Pertinax to Balbinus and Pupienus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Septimius Severus