Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 132Auction date: 30 May 2022
Lot number: 516

Price realized: 9,000 CHF   (Approx. 9,406 USD / 8,782 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Galba, 68 – 69
Sestertius circa December 68, Æ 28.02 g. SER SVLPI GALBA IMP CAESAR AVG TR P Laureate head r. Rev. Galba, in military dress, standing r. on podium, accompanied by praetorian prefect behind him, addressing two helmeted soldiers, each with shields and one with spear, a horse facing between them. Before podium, two tunicate cursores, and in background, vexillum, signum and aquila, in exergue, ADLOCVTIO / [S C]. C 2. BMC 249 (this coin cited). RIC 462 (this coin). CBN –. Mazzini 2 (this coin). ACG 369 (this coin illustrated).
Very rare. An impressive portrait struck in high relief and a finely detailed
reverse composition. Light brown tone, a flan crack at three o'clock
on obverse, otherwise very fine

Ex Hirsch XXXI, 1912, 1150 and Glendining's 16 November 1950, Hall, 1111 sales. From the Mazzini collection.

Galba's brief reign has long been recognised as one of the high points of Roman numismatic art, and this sestertius shows how imaginative and capable the Rome mint engravers could be when they were given the latitude to create a masterpiece. The reverse shows various figures and objects at contrasting angles and on different planes, thus providing the illusion of far greater depth than can literally exist on a piece of this scale. The result is spectacular – as if one is observing an actual congregation. All dimensions are fully realised and the scene creates the illusion of movement or agitation among those gathered to hear Galba speak. In a sense, this sestertius was a precursor to the multi-layered scenes that often occur on Rome mint medallions of the 2nd Century A.D. and beyond. This coin was produced in the seventh and final workshop identified by Kraay in his 1956 study of Galba's aes, the products of which he described as "...the most dramatic ever to be produced by the mint of Rome." Kraay's opinion was based not only upon the new array of elaborate reverse types from this workshop, but also on the imaginative artistry of its engravers. He considered this reverse to be an innovation on imperial coinage because it represented a departure from the "stiff and formal groupings" of the adlocutio sestertii of Caligula and Nero. He further notes: "Although only four men and a horse are shown below the rostrum, the impression of a larger crowd is effectively conveyed by the same device as was used on the panels of the Arch of Titus – the multiplication of fasces and standards, not all of which are connected to the figures shown."

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Estimate: 4000 CHF