A very rare sestertius of Britannicus
Los 889
Britannicus, 41-55. Sestertius (Orichalcum, 34 mm, 27.01 g, 7 h), uncertain mint in Thrace, struck under Claudius, circa 50-54. TI CLAVDIVS•CAESAR AVG F•BRITANNICVS• Bareheaded and draped bust of Britannicus to left. Rev. S - C Mars, helmeted, advancing to left in military attire, holding spear in his right hand and shield in his left. BMC 226. Cohen 2. RIC p. 130 note (Titus). Von Kaenel, Thrakien, Type B, 5 (same dies). Very rare. An attractive example with a fine green patina and without the modern tooling that so often plagues this important issue. Lightly smoothed and the patina retouched on a small corrosion spot on Britannicus' cheek, otherwise, about very fine.


Ex Classical Numismatic Group 87, 18 May 2011, 966.

There has been some debate over the attribution and dating of the very rare sestertii in the name of Britannicus. Traditional scholarship has assigned them to the Rome mint and dated them to the late years of the reign of Claudius, but Mattingly, who noticed that Rome did not strike any bronze coins in 50-54, suggested that the issue was struck by Titus as a restoration for his deceased friend in 79-81. However, von Kaenel has rightly argued that the style and overall fabric of Britannicus' sestertii clearly point towards a mint in Thrace, which struck coins in the name of Britannicus, Agrippina Junior, Nero Caesar and Nero Augustus late in Claudius' reign.
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