Pertinax, 193. Aureus (Gold, 19 mm, 7.28 g, 6 h), Rome, 1 January-28 March 193. IMP CAES P HELV PERTIN•AVG Laureate head of Pertinax to right. Rev. LAETITIA•TEMPOR•COS•II Laetitia standing front, head to left, holding wreath in her right hand and long scepter in her left. BMC 7. Calicó 2383. Cohen 19. Lempereur 101b (this coin, D40/R66). RIC 4A. Rare. A wonderful piece with a particularly noble portrait. Nearly extremely fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, privately acquired from Bank Leu on 2 July 1968 (with a photocopy of the original invoice enclosed), ex Münzen & Medaillen AG XXI, 19 March 1960, 61, and from the collection of F. McClean ('Astronomer'), Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 13-18 June 1906, 76.
Born of humble origin (his father was a Ligurian freedman), Pertinax made a brilliant career for himself under Marcus Aurelius, serving in various theaters of war such as the Parthian Campaign of Lucius Verus in 161-166 and the fiercely fought Marcomannic Wars in 166-180. His military successes built him a great reputation and he became one of Marcus' closest allies in the late 170s, which led to his promotion to suffect consul in 175 and, consecutively, to governor of Moesia Inferior (176-177), Moesia Superior (177), Dacia (178-179), and Syria (179-180). Pertinax's career suffered a temporary setback in the early years of Commodus' reign, but the years 185-187 saw him become the governor of Britannia, he was praefectus alimentorum in 187-188, he served as proconsul Africae in 188-189 or 189-190 and became the praefectus urbi in 190-192, a very important position close to the emperor that culminated in Pertinax holding the consulate together with Commodus in 192.
When the Praetorian Prefect Aemilius Laetus had Commodus murdered on 31 December 192, the 66 year-old Pertinax was proclaimed his successor. A highly respected and long-serving veteran of Roman politics, the new emperor strived to reorganize the res publica after the troubled reign of Commodus by returning to the measured policies of Marcus Aurelius. However, his financial austerity and his attempts to restore discipline soon brought him into conflict with the Praetorian Guard. Pertinax apparently overestimated his influence and realized too late that his emperorship was largely dependent on the support of the guardsmen, who had him killed on 28 March 193 before selling the throne to Didius Iulianus for a mind-boggling donative of 25,000 sestertii per soldier (see lot 316 below). Pertinax was later raised to Divus Pertinax Pater by Septimius Severus, who captured Rome on 9 June 193 and founded the Severan dynasty (193-235).