By Chris Chatigny – Numismatist & Cataloger, Stacks Bowers ……
Our first ancient coin preview for the August ANA World’s Fair of Money is a magnificent Septimius Severus Gold Aureus of the Roman emperor.
Lucius Septimius Severus claimed the title of Emperor by outmaneuvering all rival claims to the title. Following the Praetorian Guard’s assassination of the emperor Pertinax, the rite of succession was auctioned to the highest bidder. As one of the wealthiest men in the Empire, Didius Julianus made his bid for the throne by promising each soldier in the guard 25,000 sestertii. The Praetorians accepted this offer and proclaimed Didius as Emperor. When news of this auction reached the three major generals campaigning in the provinces (Pescennius Niger in Syria, Clodius Albinus in Britannia, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia [Danubian Frontier]), civil war erupted in the Empire. Quickly securing an alliance with Albinus, Severus marched on Rome and executed Didius Julianus. He then attacked and easily defeated Niger, and as a coup de gras turned on his one-time ally Albinus (who had briefly been declared Caesar under Septimius), defeating him on the Rhine Frontier.
In order to placate the Roman populace after these tumultuous times, Septimius Severus promulgated a message of renewed prosperity: “Felicitas Saeculi” (“Happiness of the Age”) on the reverse legend of this coin. A common form of propaganda, coinage in the Roman Empire provided a way for the emperor to inspire hope and confidence in their new regime after violently overthrowing the previous one.
The Septimius Severus Gold Aureus obverse features a standard image of Septimius Severus, wearing a laureate crown and cuirass to signify his military prowess.
The Septimius Severus Gold Aureus reverse features the message stated above, loosely translated to “Prosperity of the Age”, as well as portraits of the emperor’s family. His wife Julia Domna is at center, flanked by his sons (both eventual emperors) Geta and Caracalla. The high degree of rarity coupled with the excellent condition of this piece creates a highly desirable coin.
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We are currently accepting consignments of world and ancient coins as well as world paper money for our August 2018 ANA Auction, our October 2018 Collectors Choice Online Coin Auction as well as the January 2019 New York International Coin Auction. In addition, we are taking consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our August 2018 Hong Kong Showcase Coin Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.