Galba, 68-69. Sestertius (Orichalcum, 35 mm, 26.14 g, 7 h), Rome, autumn 68. IMP SER GALBA CAES AVG TR•P Laureate and draped bust of Galba to right, seen from behind. Rev. S - C Victory advancing left, holding palladium in her right hand and palm frond in her left. BMC 107. Cohen 261. C. M. Kraay: The Aes Coinage of Galba. NNM 133 (1956), 71c (this coin). RIC 352. Sharp and clear, an exceptional coin with a superb, bold and aristocratic portrait of the finest style. With a lovely dark patina and a very impressive pedigree. Very light doubling on the reverse, otherwise, extremely fine.
From the ESR Collection, Hess-Leu, 23 March 1961, 87, ex Münzen & Medaillen XIII, 17-19 June 1954, 651 and from the collection of L. Vierordt, Schulman 139, 4-8 March 1923, 943.
Lucius Livius Ocella Servius Sulpicius Galba, or just Galba, as we know him, was the antithesis to Nero. Born in 3 BC into an old consular senatorial family, Galba was renowned for his adherence to the mos maiorum, the conservative Roman virtues of discipline, hard work, justice, piety and devotion to public service. Despite his disgust for the excesses of the later Julio-Claudian emperors, Galba made a successful political and military career and served, among others, as legate and governor in various provinces, even receiving the ornamenta triumphalia in 46 for his victories in Germany and Africa. In the year 60, Galba became the governor of the important Spanish province Tarraconensis. It was there that he somewhat reluctantly made his bid for power following the news about Vindex' revolt against Nero in 68. Calling himself legatus Senatus Populique Romani, Galba refused to pretend to the throne without the consent of the Senate, and it was only when the Senate officially acknowledged his rule on June 8 (an event which led to Nero's suicide on the following day) that he accepted the imperial titles of Imperator and Augustus. The respect Galba demonstrated to the venerable Senate was typical of his honorable and modest character, but his severity and strict discipline eventually contributed to his downfall, as the Praetorians turned against him when Otho offered them a large bribe in early 69. The present coin, which was struck around the time of Galba's arrival in Rome in autumn 68, is certainly among the most beautiful and impressive of his sestertii in existence: it shows us a particularly bold and aristocratic portrait of the old conservative and emphasizes his severity and love for discipline.