Maxentius princeps, 306 – 307. Aureus late 306 – early spring 307, AV 5.28 g. MAXENTIVS – PRINC INVICT Laureate head r. Rev. CONSERVAT – O – R VRBIS SVAE Roma seated l. on shield, holding Victory on globe in r. hand and sceptre in l.; in field l., E. In exergue, P R. C 48 var. (no E). Alföldi –. RIC 135. Biaggi 1910 (this coin). Carson, Essays Lafaurie, 86. Depeyrot 15/2. Drost 3/3 (this coin). Calicó 5051 (this coin).
Estimate: 35'000 CHF
Starting price: 28'000 CHF
Price realized: 47'500 CHF
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue.
Well struck in high relief and extremely fine
Leo Biaggi de Blasys (1906-1979) Collection, acquired privately in 1978 by Bank Leu (Zürich) and a partner.
Sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 38 (A Connoisseur of Portraiture), 21 March 2007, 222.
The late third century was not a promising time for the city of Rome. Its traditional role as capital of the empire was slowly eroding due to the changing nature of warfare and politics. Greater power was being concentrated in the provinces as the need for protection increased along the borders. Money and resources of every kind were diverted to these front lines of Roman defence.
As this transformation took place, the great metropolis of Rome became less critical to the functioning of the empire. Emperors were routinely crowned in the provinces, and if they had the luxury of time, they would visit the senate in Rome for confirmation, despite the inability of the senate to oppose them in any case.
The capital was losing its relevance and its luster, and in the difficult economic times of the Tetrarchy, it was destined to lose some of its traditional privileges, including special tax exemptions, rent and food subsidies, and lavish entertainments, all supported at the expense of citizens empire-wide.
This was the environment in which Maxentius, the son of the former emperor Maximianus, staged his rebellion. He styled himself a populist leader who would protect the special interests of the capital, and in doing so would turn back the hand of time to when Rome was a place of privilege. His coinage reflects these platforms, adding to it a sense of old fashioned nobility by promoting his family ties to the Herculian dynasty that had been founded by his father.