Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 139

Estimate: 65'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 52'000 CHF Price realized: 110'000 CHF
The Roman Empire
Galba, 68 – 69
Sestertius June 68, Æ 25.79 g. IMP SER GALBA – AVG TR P Oak-wreathed and draped bust r. Rev. S – C Victory alighting r., holding wreath in r. hand and palm branch over shoulder in l. C –. RIN 1911, p. 152, 4. BMC p. 325, note. RIC 251. Kent-Himer pl. 59, 210 (for reverse type). CBN –.
Extremely rare and among the finest sestertii of Galba in existence. A magnificent
portrait of great strength in the finest style of the period. A wonderful
untouched brown-Tiber tone and extremely fine
Ex Waddell 2, 1987, 496; Leu 52, 1991, 171, NAC 7, 1994, 695 and NAC 51, 2009, 205 sales. This is a great coin and one I will have the most trouble parting with. One of the nicest portraits of Galba I have ever seen in stunningly high grade. Worthy of consideration for the finest collection! MSG. The portrait on this fine sestertius of Galba is of extraordinary quality by a master-engraver, depicting the elderly emperor as a stern aristocrat of raw virtue. His expression is set in grim determination, and the oak-wreath resting on his head is so carefully articulated that the whole appears remarkably life-like. Contrasting with the depth of realism seldom reached in Roman numismatics of the obverse, the figure of Victory on the reverse, with her soft, youthful contours, is one imbued with a hopeful spirit. However noble the message of the reverse of this coin, Tacitus records that Galba was only worthy of the empire before becoming emperor. His shortcomings were his severity and stinginess. While the latter was perhaps a legitimate ‘vice’ considering Nero’s carefree spending on frivolous projects which had depleted the Roman treasury and which caused Galba to levy enormous taxes on those areas of the empire that had been slow to receive him, he also refused most requests for citizenship out-of-hand, however well deserved, and had a number of men sentenced to death without trial. Additionally, he soon came under the control of his co-consul, the praetorian prefect, and a freedman, which further eroded his popularity. His death sentence, however, were his refusals to honour the reward promised on his behalf to the praetorians for their defection of Nero during his long march on Rome, and his spurning of the loyal Otho for Piso as his successor. Galba rightly felt that soldiers should not be bribed, but the rot that had begun when Claudius paid the guardsmen after his elevation had been long established by the late 60s, and the praetorians turned against their emperor, hailing Otho emperor on 15 January A.D. 69. Galba was executed and decapitated by praetorians near Lacus Curtius, the mysterious open chasm near the Roman Forum.

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