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Of the highest rarity, apparently the second specimen known. An unusually
attractive portrait struck on a full flan, minor mark on reverse field
at seven o’clock, otherwise good extremely fine / extremely fine
This coin published:
Norman Shiel, ”An aureus of Carausius from Hertfordshire”, in Spink’s Numismatic Circular, vol. LXXXIV.7/8 (July/August 1976), p. 274.
Norman Shiel, letter to the editor, in Spink’s Numismatic Circular, vol. LXXXIV.11 (November 1976), p. 416.
Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletin, December 1976, pp. 459-461 (illustrated on front cover).
Hélène Huvelin, ”Classement et chronologie du monnayage d’or de Carausius”, in Revue numismatique, vol. 27 (1985), pp. 107-119, no. 13.
Richard Falkiner, ”A usurper’s bid for legality”, in Antiques Trade Gazette, issue 1840 (17 May 2008), p. 35.
Roger Bland and Xavier Loriot, Roman and Early Byzantine Gold Coins found in Britain and Ireland, London 2010, p. 162, no. 216.
Sam Moorhead, ”The Gold Coinage of Carausius”, in Revue numismatique, vol. 171 (2014), pp. 221-245, here: p. 235, no. 15.
Found in Portswood (Hampshire) in 1975.
Sold by B. A. Seaby, Fixed Price List December 1976, lot 459.
Sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 46, 2 April 2008, lot 684.
Carausius made full use of his coinage to communicate ideas that ranged from his attempt to establish an independent ‘new Rome’ in the West to his desire to forge a partnership with his rivals Diocletian and Maximian. On this rare and interesting aureus, inscribed PAX CARAVSI AVG, the rebel takes credit for the peace he has established in his realm. Though there is every indication that conditions improved dramatically in Britain and in the channel waters after Carausius came to power, it would be a mistake to confuse prosperity or security with peace, an optimistic theme that dominates much of this rebel’s coinage.
Maximian, the legitimate emperor based in Gaul, was relentless in his efforts to undermine Carausius, though none of them met with true success. He sent a massive fleet against the rebel in 289, following up on more than a year of punitive campaigns against his Frankish allies along the Rhine mouth, but the armada was utterly destroyed. A truce was then made as Carausius awaited the next attempt against his fledgling state. It is, perhaps, during this period that this aureus was issued.
It is possible that Maximian made a fresh, though feeble, attempt against Carausius in 291, though the evidence for that is entirely circumstantial. A subsequent effort that is well-documented, however, occurred in the summer of 293, when Maximian’s new Caesar Constantius ‘Chlorus’ besieged Bolougne. Through a combination of land siege and naval blockade, Carausius’ allies in the port city surrendered only one day before the blockade was dismantled by a rising tide. After this victory, which starved Carausius of a base on the continent, he seems to have been murdered by his successor Allectus.