Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 20

Estimate: 10'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 8'000 CHF Price realized: 11'000 CHF
Vespasian, 69 – 79. Aureus, Lugdunum circa 70, AV 7.33 g. IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG TR P Laureate head r. Rev. COS ITER – TR POT Neptune standing l., r. foot on prow, holding dolphin in extended r. hand and trident in l. C 92. BMC 374. RIC 1108. CBN 290. Calicó 611.
Struck on a broad flan and about extremely fine


Trivulzio family Collection, acquired between 1745 and 1769 by Don Carlo Trivulzio (1715-1789, his manuscript catalogue no. XXVI-3), sold en-bloc in 1935 to Pietro Accorsi (1891-1982), by whom supposedly resold en-bloc to Pietro Antonio Gariazzo (1866-1943), sold by Santamaria, auction [33], Milan, 24 January 1938, lot 369, to Cahn.

Sold by Numismatik Lanz München, Munich, auction 58, 21 November 1991, lot 516.

Sold by Numismatics Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, auction 30, 8 December 1992, lot 230.

Sold by Classical Numismatic Group with Freeman & Sear with Numismatica Ars Classica, auction Triton I, New York, 2-3 December 1997, lot 1357.

"European Nobleman" Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 24, 5 December 2002, lot 46.

Both historians and citizens openly criticised Vespasian - the son of a man who made a fortune as a tax collector in Asia, and later as a Swiss banker - for his stinginess, but this proved to be an essential quality for an emperor in his troubled times. Suetonius (Vesp 16.3) reports that Vespasian claimed he needed 400 million aurei (10 billion denarii) to "...put the country back on its feet again". As a result of his close attention to finance, Vespasian struck aurei in large quantities, and unlike most of his predecessors, he employed a wide variety of reverse types. For generations researchers have recognised that many of Vespasian's reverse types recall types from earlier reigns, most especially those from the age of Augustus. Attempts have been made to connect his 'Augustan' types with the centenaries of the Battle of Actium (ending in 70) and the 'foundation' of the empire (ending in 74), but all seem to have failed, as the relevant types are strewn throughout Vespasian's ten-year reign. It is perhaps better to view his recycling of types as a political strategy favoured by Vespasian and Titus, but subsequently abandoned by Domitian. In this case we have a depiction of the sea-god Neptune that certainly is derived from Octavian's pre-Imperial coinage struck in commemoration of Actium.

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