As we reflect on the past year, we have much to be thankful for. Our wonderful customers (both new and returning) continue to inspire us with their passion for history and collecting coins, banknotes and more. We are grateful for our trusted dealers, and we have been pleased to welcome many new sellers to our marketplace as well. Thank you all for making it a great numismatic year; we look forward to our continuing partnerships with you in the New Year.
New Year’s Day is known as a time to celebrate and extend good wishes. In ancient Rome, it was also a celebratory time in which people exchanged figs, dates, and honey as symbols of well-wishing, and gave gifts in the form of coins.
The passage of the old to the new year in ancient Rome was represented traditionally by the god Janus. He is mostly depicted as literally having two faces. One side looks forward and the other looks backward. In this way, he can see both the future and the past.
Obverse: Laureate head of Janus; curved truncation. Reverse: ROMA raised on an outlined tablet in exergue, Jupiter in quadriga driven by Victory right, holding thunderbolt and scepter.
An excellent exemplar of this scarce and very desired coin, with superb relief and high-quality silver. For demanding collectors!
Gifts in the Form of Coins
In ancient Rome, New Year’s Day was also on January 1. This day was therefore obviously connected with Janus because it was the beginning of the new year. On this day it was normal for Romans to exchange happy words and good wishes. This ritual is the same as nowadays. And for the same reason, the Romans exchanged figs, dates, and honey. But they also gave gifts in the form of coins! On January 1, offerings were given to gods and deities just as on other days, except the New Year’s Day offerings were not cheap (i.e., cake and salt) like might be given at other times.
Janus was an important god for the Romans and therefore he was also depicted on several coins. These coins, mostly minted during the Roman Republic, are highly collectible because of the iconic and recognizable head of the god.
Also, the Temple of Janus is depicted several times – as, for example, on this wonderful aureus of the emperor Nero.
- Catalog: Cohen 114; RIC 58
- Weight: 7.28 g
- Diameter: 19 mm
Obv: Laureate head right NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS. Rev: Temple of Janus with closed doors. IANVM CLVSIT PACE P R TERRA MARIQ PARTA
In ancient Rome, the main Temple of Janus stood in the Forum Romanum (the famous Roman Forum) near the Argiletum. It had doors on both ends, and inside was a statue of Janus, the two-faced god of boundaries. The temple doors (the Gates of Janus) were closed in times of peace and opened in times of war. The Temple of Janus was the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius’, most famous temple project, which he built to distract the early warlike Romans from their violent ways. During Numa’s reign, the gates of the Temple of Janus were closed and Rome remained at peace (as shown on the reverse of this coin).
The next king, Tullus Hostilius, opened the Gates of Janus when he went to war with the Sabine city of Alba Longa.
The Gates of Janus remained open for the next 400 years until after the First Punic War when T. Manlius Torquatus closed the Gates of Janus in 235 BCE. This closure lasted about eight years. War with the Gauls in northern Italy forced the gates to reopen. They did not close again until 29 BCE, following the deaths of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra.
On the rare occasions when Rome was not at war with a foreign enemy, the doors of the temple were ceremonially closed, an event which Nero commemorated extensively on the coinage of 65-67 CE. On this aureus, we see a curious rectangular structure, the precise location of which remains uncertain, consisting of two arched gateways joined by walls though lacking a roof. It is a rare historical coin with an attractive depiction of the Temple of Janus.
- Catalog: Cr.35/1 Syd.71
- Material: Bronze
- Weight: 256.00 g
- Diameter: 67.00 mm
Obv: Head of Janus, below, the mark of value set horizontally. Rev: Prow right
A beautiful Aes Grave
- Catalog: Cr. 479/1; Syd. 1044; RPC I, 671
- Weight: 17.07 g
- Diameter: 28.00 mm
Crowned Janus head
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I wish all of you a wonderful and healthy 2020. And I hope you will have a lot of pleasurable time with your great hobby and the coins that you will find on the MA-Shops website.
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