Kings of Lydia: Kroisos (c. 564/53-550/39 BC), AR 1/12 Stater, Sardes, Berk 26-7, Traité I 413, SNG Kayhan I 1020-1 (0.84 g, 8 mm)

Obverse: Confronted foreparts of lion and bull

Reverse: Incuse square punch


Seleukid Empire: Antiochos I Soter (281-261 BC), AR Tetradrachm, Seleukeia on the Tigris, SC 379.3c, ESM 155 (17.15 g, 27 mm)

Obverse: Diademed head right

Reverse: Apollo Delphios seated to left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting left hand on grounded bow; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, AP monogram to outer left, monogram to outer right.

Roman Republic: P. Licinius Nerva, AR Denarius, Rome mint, 113 or 112 BC, Crawford 292/1, Licinia 7, Sydenham 548, Sear 169 (3.85 g)

A remarkable coin depicting voting in the Roman republic!

Obverse: Helmeted bust of Roma left, holding shield and spear; above: crescent; before: *; behind: ROMA

Reverse: Voting scene in the Comitium: one voter on left of pons receives ballot from attendant below, another voter on right of pons places ballot in cista; above: P NERVA; at top of coin, bar on which stands tablet bearing letter P

Vespasian (69-79 AD), AR Denarius, Rome mint, 72-73 AD, RIC 357, RSC 74 (3.29 g, 17 mm)

He, unlike all his predecessors, was the only emperor who was changed for the better by his office.

(Tactius, Histories I.50)

Vespasian was born on 17 November AD 9 at Falcrinae. He and his brother were the first of their family to enter the senate. Under Tiberius, he served as a military tribune and quaestor, and was praetor under Caligula. His military career received a boost when we successfully commanded the Second Legion in the conquest of Britain in 43-47. He was rewarded with the consulship and, subsequently, the governorship of Africa.

Under Nero, Vespasian became an official “companion” of the emperor and earned imperial displeasure in Greece for falling asleep during one of Nero’s musical performances. In 67, he was sent to crush the Jewish revolt, where he heard of Nero’s suicide in 69, and was proclaimed emperor.

He entered Rome early in AD 70. The civil war had depleted the treasury. To restock it, Vespasian imposed new taxes and raised old ones, and was not averse to selling public offices. The new tax for which he was best remembered was on public urinals. When his son Titus objected that such a source of income was beneath imperial dignity, Vespasian famously picked up some gold coins and remarked “See, my son, if they have any smell.”. On the other hand, he was noted for his justice, leniency, and good humour, which won him friends. His conscientious attention to the welfare of Rome and its provinces set the empire on a new and firmer footing.

In AD 79, Vespasian fell ill while at Campania. He decided to take the waters at Aquae Cutiliae, a mineral spring in Sabine country. However, he took the waters too freely and contracted diarrhoea as well. He continued to attend to state business till June 23, when he was hit by a particularly severe attack of diarrhoea. Even then, he could not resist cracking a joke at the contrast between his condition (sitting faint and weak on a chamber pot) and his impending deification by remarking “Ah, I think I am becoming a god!”. With the memorable last words “An emperor ought to die standing.”, he struggled to his feet, but collapsed and died in the arms of his attendants.

His legacy was a stable government and a restocked treasury. He had come to power as a military man, but had the good sense to rule with the cooperation of the senate.

Obverse: IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII, Laureate head right

Reverse: CONCORDIA (AVGVS)TI, Concordia seated left, holding patera and cornucopia

Roman Empire: Philip I “the Arab” (February 244 AD to September 249 AD), AR Antoninianus, Rome mint, Officina 1, 248 AD, RIC 12 (3.11 g, 24 mm)

According to the computation of Varro, the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Rome fell between 21st April 247 AD and 21st April 248 AD. In 248 AD an extensive series of coins was struck in all metals to celebrate the event. The reverse legends refer to the Secular Games, or Ludi Saeculares, that were held at the time.

In addition to the religious ceremonies and theatrical performances that would have been held there were a series of games in the arena. These included venationes, or animal hunts, and the principal reverse types of the Saeculares series show the many animals that met their deaths in the great arena (the Colosseum). These animals may have been gathered by Gordian III for his anticipated Persian triumph. The Saeculares coinages were mostly struck by the Rome mint, though some eastern antoniniani are also attested. The antoniniani from Rome for the first time record the officina (workshops) responsible for the different types. Each officina marked its products with a different roman numeral, i.e. I, II, III, IIII, V or VI, confirming that six officinae were operating at that time. (Text adapted from The Monetary System of the Romans by Ian J. Sellars)

Obverse: IMP PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right

Reverse: SAECVLARES AVGG, lion walking right; I in exergue