Roma Numismatics Ltd.   |   Auction XVII   |   28 March 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
Online bidding ends:  28 March 2019 10:00 CET

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Lot 776

Estimate: 30'000 GBP   |   Starting price: 24'000 GBP
Septimius Severus AV Aureus. Rome, AD 193. IMP CAE • L • SEP SEV PERT AVG, laureate bust right / LEG XIIII • GEM • M • V •, legionary aquila between two signa; forepart of capricorn on the shaft of each signum; TR P COS in exergue. RIC 14; Calicó 2472a; Biaggi 1073; BMCRE 18. 7.36g, 20mm, 1h.

Good Extremely Fine. Very Rare, only three examples of two varieties in CoinArchives.

Ex José A. Herrero S.A., Subasta Numismática, 31 May 2017, lot 144.

This exceedingly rare and important aureus is one of only four recorded gold types in the extensive ‘legionary’ series that Septimius issued after his accession in June of 193. Cassius Dio records that he paid an accession donative of 250 denarii (10 aurei) per soldier, and it is therefore highly likely that the Rome mint legionary issues were intended to satisfy this immediate requirement. The silver denarii were struck in vast quantities, with Legio VIII Augusta at Strasbourg being honoured with a particularly large issue, though not quite as large as that of Legio XIIII. The eastern issues are by comparison all extremely rare, having evidently been issued on a much smaller scale, and only the legions III, VIII and XIIII are honoured.

Furthermore, at least some of the eastern mint coins may not have been struck until after January 194, when Septimius became consul for the second time. This represents a gap of six months or more between the Rome legionary issues, and those of the eastern mints. The explanation for both the small scale of these issues and the time differential may be that they represent a belated donative payment to loyal troops stationed in the eastern provinces. It is known that Septimius’ rival Pescennius Niger enjoyed strong but not universal support in the East (Septimius evidently had regional forces strong enough to block Legio II Traiana Fortis from sending military aid to Niger from Egypt). It is very possible therefore that locally stationed vexillationes (detachments) of the three aforementioned legions were present in the region and remained loyal to Septimius, and that they were paid their donatives with locally struck coinage after Septimius’ eventual defeat of Niger in May 194. This hypothesis is supported by the known findspot of the only other aureus of uncertain eastern (possibly Emesa or Alexandria) mint type struck for Legio VIII Augusta, for Bavaria is only a short distance from the Legion’s home at Strasbourg, and that coin may have easily been lost there after returning home with a member of Legio VIII.

Legio XIV (or XIIII) Gemina Martia Victrix meanwhile received special honours from the new emperor, perhaps reflected in the disproportionately large issue of coinage struck in its name, since Septimius had been the commander of this particular unit at the time of his elevation to imperial status. Tracing its foundation to Julius Caesar in 57 BC, this legion had participated in the invasion and conquest of Britain under Claudius and had gained its additional epithet of Martia Victrix for the vital role that it played in the defeat of the Icenian revolt led by Boudicca in 60 AD. XIV Gemina fought for Septimius on his march to Rome to overthrow rival Didius Julianus in 193, contributed to the defeat of the usurper Pescennius Niger in 194, and later probably fought in the Parthian campaign that ended with the sack of the Parthian capital Ctesiphon in 198.

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