Vitellius, 69. Aureus (Gold, 18 mm, 7.25 g, 6 h), uncertain mint in Spain (Tarraco?), after 18 July 69. A•VITELLIVS•GERMANICVS•IMP•AVG Laureate head of Vitellius to left, with globe at point of bust. Rev. VICTORIA AVGVSTI Victory advancing left, holding shield inscribed S P / Q R in two lines. BMC -. Calicó 578 (this coin). Cohen -. RIC 13. Extremely rare. An important and very well pedigreed piece with a bold and impressive Spanish-style portrait. A few minor scratches, otherwise, good very fine.
From the collections of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl and W. Niggeler, Bank Leu/Münzen & Medaillen AG, 2-3 November 1967, 1147, ex Ars Classica XVII, 3 October 1934, 727, and from the collection of E. Caruso, Canessa III, 28 June 1923, 237.
Vitellius revolted against Galba on 2 January 69, but it was only after his capture of Rome in the summer of the same year that he received the title of Augustus. Our coin must therefore be dated to sometime after 18 July 69, despite the long title GERMANICVS, forming part of a very small emission struck in Spain in the name of Vitellius as Augustus. It is worth noting, in this regard, that the sequence of the titles, Imperator and Germanicus, equally changed during this transition. On all Spanish coins lacking the title Augustus, the order is A VITELLIVS IMP GERMAN(ICVS) (i.e. 'A. Vitellius, emperor by the will of the Germanies', or the armies in the Germanic provinces), whereas on coins struck after 18 July, a less offensive form, A VITELLIVS GERMANICVS IMP AVG, is adapted, in which GERMANICVS could be understood as an epithet. Still, the order was unusual, as the epithet GERM was traditionally placed after AVG. In any case, all of Vitellius Augustus' coins from Spain are extremely rare, which may have contributed to their misunderstanding in RIC, where they were dated between January and June of 69 (i.e. before Vitellius actually received the title).