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An Unusual Portrait Of Vespasian

 
 
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Pillar of the Community
Canada
1232 Posts
 Posted 06/17/2019  4:04 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add orfew to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Believe it or not this portrait is supposed to be Vespasian. At the beginning of Vespasian's rule the celators did not know what Vespasian looked like so there is great variation in the portraits on the early coins of Vespasian.

When I saw this become available I jumped at the chance to own it. It is now mine. I just loved the unusual portrait. It is RIC 29 a very common coin. Common though the coin may be I find this portrait extraordinary.

Vespasian AR Denarius (70 CE Jan-June)
Weight: 2.95 g17.5 mm
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head of Vespasian right
Rev: COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left, holding olive branch and caduceus
RIC 29
Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics on Vcoins June 16, 2019


"Cave ab homine unius libri"
Pillar of the Community
United States
4410 Posts
 Posted 06/17/2019  5:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow, quite different from the distinctive mug we associate with Vespasian. Good pickup - an interesting oddity.
Pillar of the Community
United States
522 Posts
 Posted 06/17/2019  7:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add travelcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Not the usual portrait indeed. Very nice pick and it seems you have a very keen eye for Flavian oddities - Good Job -
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United States
22572 Posts
 Posted 06/17/2019  7:39 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very unusual portrait indeed. I wonder if this isn't the most actuate to what he really looked like?
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
15901 Posts
 Posted 06/17/2019  8:57 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
On of the most common of reverse designs for aureii and denarii for Vespasian.

I agree that the portrait is unusual.
I did a quick visual comparison of other portrait styles for Vespasian on Vcoins over some hundreds of coins, looking for similarity. This style appears unique despite the fact that there is great variation in the portrait styles of Vespasian from many mints that were spread far and wide around the Roman Empire at this time.
The die cutters' styles would have been affected by their own local culture to some extent.

I also notice that the pictured coin was struck early in the reign of Vespasian. For a die cutter to have some idea of what the new Emperor looked like, a plaster bust of the new Emperor had to be sent to each of the mints around the Empire. Until a new plaster bust arrived at the mint the die cutter would have little or no idea of what the new Emperor would have looked like. That may have been the case with the effigy on this coin.

To get a better idea of how Vespasian appeared in real life go to:
Google Images: 'Vespasian bust', and look at a range of images that can be found there.

As an aside, (I don't think this the case here), one of the ways a fake coin can be identified, is by style.
Style variation is one of the more obvious ways that fake U.S. Territorial fractional gold coins are identified.
Edited by sel_69l
06/17/2019 9:09 pm
Valued Member
United States
428 Posts
 Posted 06/18/2019  09:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add srcliff to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Coin maker:"So what's the new emperor look like?"

Gov't official: "Kinda like the tough guy from any army movie."

Coin Maker: "Hold my wine!"
Pillar of the Community
Belgium
1164 Posts
 Posted 06/18/2019  11:49 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add antwerpen2306 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
just an assumption :
if you compare the coin RIC2,1,921 , a coin of Domitianus of 76 CE as Caesar , I think there is some similarity .
In 70 CE , Domitianus was a Young man of 19 years old , so maybe he was in Rome and the celator took him as model . albert

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