Caracalla augustus, 198 – 217. Aureus 211, AV 7.44 g. ANTONINVS PIVS – AVG BRIT Laureate head r. Rev. P M TR P XIIII – COS III P P Emperor standing l., holding parazonium and reversed spear; at feet, river-god reclining r. C –. BMC –. RIC –. Calicó 2704 (these dies).
Estimate: 25'000 CHF
Starting price: 20'000 CHF
Price realized: 22'000 CHF
Of the highest rarity, apparently only the fourth and by far the finest specimen known.
A bold portrait and a very interesting reverse type. Extremely fine
Inventory of Freeman & Sear, Los Angeles, sold in November 2004.
This aureus is one of the last issues to celebrate the British victories of Caracalla upon his return to Rome in AD 211. In AD 208, he and his brother Geta, whom he detested, had accompanied their father, Septimius Severus, to Britannia where they intended to subjugate the Caledonians. Together they reconquered the Southern Uplands between Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, made extensive repairs to the Antonine Wall and erected an important new fort at Tremontium. They then crossed the Antonine Wall and made inroads against the Caledonians of the Central Lowlands despite heavy losses due to the Caledonian’s use of guerilla tactics.
By A.D. 210 the Caledonians had sued for peace and accepted the loss of the Lowlands, but later revolted along with the Maeatae (southern Picts?). In A.D. 211, Severus and his sons now prepared for a war of extermination, but Severus suddenly fell ill and died before he could visit his full wrath on the Caledonians. After his death, Caracalla continued the war for a time before agreeing to a peace settlement and returning to Rome. Ironically, the victories celebrated on the present coin of Caracalla soon evaporated and the limit of Roman power in Britannia was again pushed back to Hadrian’s Wall.
The reverse type features Caracalla in full military attire and holding a parazonium while he treads on a river or body of water from which emerges a bearded male personification. It has been suggested that he may represent the Thames or the Tyne, but other rivers are surely possibilities as well, perhaps even the English Channel.