Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 10

Estimate: 10'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 8'000 CHF Price realized: 10'000 CHF
Tiberius, 14 – 37. Aureus, Lugdunum 14-37, AV 7.83 g. TI CAESAR DIVI – AVG F AVGVSTVS Laureate head r. Rev. PONTIF – MAXIM Pax-Livia figure seated r., holding inverted spear and branch. C 15. BMC 39 var. RIC 27 var. CBN 22. Calicó 305a (this coin).
A gentle portrait of fine style struck on a very broad flan. Extremely fine

This coin published:

Sabine Bourgey & Georges Depeyrot, L’Empire romain, vol. I, Paris 1994, p. 59, no. 173.


Jean Faure (1862-1942) Collection, sold by Etienne Bourgey, Paris, 10-11 December 1923, lot 65.

“Distinguished American Collection”, sold by Bank Leu, Zürich, auction 52, 15 May 1991, lot 158.

Sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 52, 7 October 2009, lot 319.

The aurei and denarii of Tiberius with the ‘Pax seated’ reverse are among the most familiar coins of antiquity, at the very least because the denarius is usually described as the ‘Tribute Penny’ of the Bible. The type was one of three used by Augustus in the final year of his life, 13–14, and was adopted by Tiberius, who struck it as the principal type of his reign. The figure on the reverse – a seated female holding a sceptre and branch – certainly must be Pax if it is meant to represent a deitiy or personification, as her attributes meet that requirement perfectly. More importantly: does ‘Pax’ represent Livia? For the answer we might look at later coinage that might have been designed with an eye to the past. Galba provides ideal evidence, as he honoured his old friend and patroness Livia (then diva) to help legitimise his own principate. The fact that Galba struck aurei and denarii with the deified Livia standing and the accompanying inscription DIVA AVGVSTA is enough to establish the connection. However, to learn more about the seated ‘Pax’ type of Augustus and Tiberius, we must look to Galba’s sestertii. There we find a type with an identical seated ‘Pax’ with the inscription AVGVSTA in the exergue. Kraay (Aes Coinage of Galba, NNM 133, p. 58) rightly showed no hesitation in identifying the seated figure as Livia – not even as Pax-Livia. The combination of Galba’s explicitly labelled aurei and denarii, and his remarkable sestertius, must lead us to conclude that the ‘Pax’ on the coins of Augustus and Tiberius represented Livia, as these coins still would have been current – even common – during Galba’s reign, and he no doubt chose to depict Livia in the ‘seated Pax’ format because it would have been instantly understood by the public.

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