Heritage World Coin Auctions > Dallas Signature Sale 3102Auction date: 2 November 2022
Lot number: 31043

Price realized: Unsold
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Lot description:


Ancients
Vitellius (16 April-22 December AD 69). AV aureus (19mm, 7.41 gm, 7h). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 3/5, edge marks. Rome. A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P, laureate head of Vitellius right / L VITELLIVS COS III CENSOR, Lucius Vitellius the Elder, togate, seated left on draped curule chair, feet on stool, branch in outstretched right hand, scipio aquila in left. RIC I 96. Calicó 565. Well-centered on bright flan. Includes an extra NGC photo-certificate.

Ex UBS, Auction 78 (9 September 2008), lot 1540; purchased privately from Münzhandlung Basel

The son of the influential senator Lucius Vitellius, Aulus Vitellius was born in AD 15 and raised in the luxury befitting a wealthy consul's son. The younger Vitellius developed a penchant for gambling, along with a gourmand's appetite and corpulent physique. He served as Consul in AD 48, where he acquitted himself well, but resumed his disreputable habits in later years. This served to land him heavily in debt by the time Nero's regime collapsed, in AD 68. The new emperor, Galba, appointed Vitellius governor of Germania Inferior, believing him to be utterly without ambition or talent, and therefor a safe choice. But officers in the Rhine legions grew disenchanted with Galba's parsimony and persuaded Vitellius to make a try for the throne.

On 1 January AD 69, the Rhine legions proclaimed Vitellius emperor at the city of Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne). His promise of lavish bonuses and easy discipline quickly won the legions of Gaul, Britain and Raetia over to his cause. His march on Rome took on the appearance of a Bacchic procession, with his soldiers drinking heavily and pillaging the countryside. In the meantime, Galba had been overthrown in Rome by Otho, who marched north with the Praetorian Guard. The hard-fought First Battle of Bedriacum in mid-April went to Vitellius' larger force, and Otho opened his veins. Arriving in Rome, Vitellius was confirmed as emperor, by a reluctant Senate. He treated his elevation as an excuse for one long banquet, reportedly spending the equivalent of $2 billion on delicacies from all over the Empire. While he indulged his appetites, the armies of the East proclaimed the general Vespasian as emperor on 1 July, launching a new round of civil war. The legions of the Danube joined in the revolt and invaded Italy on Vespasian's behalf. Within weeks, soldiers loyal to Vespasian forced their way into Rome and swept aside all opposition. They found Vitellius hiding in the imperial doorkeeper's quarters. Hauled half-naked to the Forum, the onetime emperor was mocked, tortured, and slain. His corpse was dumped unceremoniously in the Tiber.

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Estimate: 70000-100000 USD