Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 131Auction date: 30 May 2022
Lot number: 16

Price realized: 15,000 CHF   (Approx. 15,677 USD / 14,636 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Vespasian, 69 – 79
Aureus, Tarraco (?) circa late 69 to 70, AV 7.32 g. IMP CAESAR AVG VESPASIANVS Laureate head r. Rev. MARS – VLTOR Mars advancing r., holding spear and trophy. C 270. BMC 350. RIC 1297. CBN 312 (Espagne). Calicó 651.
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. A very unusual early portrait
of Vespasian struck in high relief. Good extremely fine

This extremely rare aureus of Vespasian is among his earliest issues, perhaps even predating his Rome mint issues, and was stuck in late AD 69 or early AD 70, probably after Spain had declared its support for Vespasian after the Battle of Cremona in October. Although not firmly established, the principal Spanish mint, probably located at Tarraco, was likely responsible for striking this issue as the coin shows type and stylistic affinities to pre-Flavian coinage struck at this mint. Interestingly, there is a second group of Spanish mint denarii of a different style (cf. RIC 1339-1341) linked stylistically to the Spanish issues of Galba and Vitellius and which have also been attributed to Tarraco (?). If, however, the mint responsible for our coin is indeed Tarraco, it then throws into question the attribution of these earlier, pre-Vespasianic issues.

The reverse of our coin shows the war god Mars advancing to the right, holding a spear in his right hand and carrying a trophy over his far shoulder with his left. The type originates with Vitellius' common MARS VICTOR bronze issues. Here, though, the accompanying legend is MARS VLTOR ("Mars the Avenger"), which was most frequently used on Spanish mint coins struck during the recent Civil War of AD 68-69. Its use here should be understood as a clear statement of the newly-established emperor's intent to correct the injustices of the preceding period of civil strife, and a warning to anyone who might think of disrupting the peace.

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Estimate: 12500 CHF