Valerian I, 253-260. Aureus (Gold, 18 mm, 2.20 g, 7 h), Rome, September/October-31 December 253. IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Valerian I to right. Rev. P M TR P II COS P P Mars standing front, head to left, placing his right hand on shield set on ground and holding inverted spear in his left. Biaggi 1443 (this coin). Calicó 3435 (this coin). Cohen 158 = RIC 27 corr. (this coin (?), misdescribed as "laureate head to right"). MIR 1a (this coin). Apparently unique and of great historical importance. A wonderful, boldly struck coin, beautifully toned and with an illustrious pedigree. The flan slightly wavy, otherwise, extremely fine.
From the collection of Nelson Bunker Hunt, Sotheby's, 20 June 1991, 874, that of L. Biaggi de Blasys, and from the collection of the Viscount Gustave Ponton d'Amécourt, exhibited at the Paris International Exposition, 1 May-10 November 1878, published in the Annuaire de la Société Française de Numismatique et d’Archéologie (1880), pl. III, 6, and sold by Rollin & Feuardent, 25-30 April 1887, 508.
Valerian's rise to power is closely connected to the fall of Trebonianus Gallus, to whose aid he hurried in mid 253 in the upcoming clash with the usurper Aemilian. Arriving - perhaps deliberately? - late on the scene, Valerian was proclaimed emperor by his troops upon learning of the murder of Gallus by his own legions. In a telling turn of events, Aemilian's soldiers then killed their master and defected the new pretender to the throne, who triumphantly arrived in Rome in September/October 253. Valerian had been suffect consul in his earlier career, somewhen before 238, when he first appeared as a legate of the two Gordiani to Rome, and he assumed his second consulship, now as emperor, on 1st January 254. Göbl has convincingly argued that the seeming confusion over the counting of Valerian's tribunicia potestas can be solved by assuming that he counted his first TR P following his dies imperii after the death of Gallus in June/July, and his second from the death of Aemilian and the arrival in Rome in September/October 253. This means that our coin can be dated to between September/October and 31 December 253: it is the very first issue of Valerian and as such of the greatest historical importance. We are fortunate that the present coin has survived, as it appears to be unique, despite RIC, following Cohen, reporting a similar issue with a "laureate head to right" in the possession of (Leopold) Hamburger: this is most likely an error, as Valerian did not issue any gold coins with a head instead of a bust, and one wonders if Cohen was, in fact, referring to our coin, which L. Hambuger could easily have sold to Gustave de Ponton d'Amécourt somewhat later!