Civil Wars, 68-69. Denarius (Silver, 18 mm, 3.11 g, 6 h), uncertain mint in Spain (?), circa April-June 68. LIBERTATIS Roman citizen, togate and wearing pileus, advancing left, holding olive branch in his right hand and scroll (?) in his left. Rev. SP-QR Victory standing right on globe, holding wreath in her right hand and palm frond over her left shoulder. Blacas -, cf. 56. BMC -, cf. 13. Cohen -, cf. 412. Martin -, cf. 68. Nicolas -, cf. 57. RIC -, cf. 28 (all with citizen advancing right). Apparently unique and unpublished save for its previous auction appearance. A coin of great interest and historical importance. Slightly rough and with some minor marks, otherwise, very fine.
Ex Ponterio & Associates 37, 1 November 1989, 278.
Louis Charles Pierre Casimir de Duc de Blacas d'Aulps was the first scholar to discover that this and other automous issues belonged to the Civil Wars of 68/69. He interpreted this image of a citizen wearing pileus and holding a branch as a rendering of the famous passage from Sueton's biography of Nero, describing the reaction of the Roman people over Nero's death: 'He [Nero] met his death in the thirty-second year of his life, on the anniversary of the murder of Octavia, and such was the public rejoicing that the people put on liberty-caps and ran about all over the city.' (Suet. Nero 57,1). However tempting this interpretation is, it is certainly not tenable. The coin was struck before Nero's suicide and is a classic example of Roman allegorical propaganda: by showing a citizen wearing a pileus, the obverse proclaims the liberation of the res publica, while the reverse praises the victory of the Senate and People of Rome. In doing so, the issuers - likely pro-Galba forces in Spain - place themselves in a straight line with previous liberators of the res publica from tyranny such as Lucius Junius Brutus. It is, as such, undoubtedly one of the most unusual and exciting coin types of the Civil War of 68/69 and of an extreme rarity: Martin knew of only two examples, in London and Madrid, both from a single die pair with the citizen advancing to the right. Our coin, struck from a new pair of dies, is the only example known to date with the citizen walking to the left.