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Domitian Damnatio?

David Atherton

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Another big bronze from an old collection.




Æ Sestertius, 22.24g
Rome mint, 90-91 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XV CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: IOVI VICTORI; S C in exergue; Jupiter std. l., with Victory and sceptre
RIC 702 (C2). BMC 439. BNC 476.
Acquired from Marc Breitsprecher, January 2023. Ex Librairie Numismatique Monnaies & Medailles, E. Boudeau, Paris.

Similar to the silver and gold, Domitian's aes coinage in the mid 80s settled down to a few predicable reverse types that were annually struck throughout the reign. The Sestertii were dominated by Victory crowning the emperor and this seated Jupiter with Victory. 'Jupiter the giver of Victory' was an important propaganda type because of the periodic conflicts on the Northern frontier that flared up form time to time. Also, according to Suetonius, Domitian established "a quinquennial contest in honour of Jupiter Capitolinus of a threefold character, comprising music, riding, and gymnastics, and with considerably more prizes than are awarded nowadays."

This coin comes with an interesting old provenance as noted by Marc Breitsprecher: "Includes old yellowed paper envelope from the coin dealer Librairie Numismatique Monnaies & Medailles, E. Boudeau Expert, 11 Rue Ramaeu, Paris - dating prior to 1912 - with dealer name printed on the envelope - coin description and price (3.45 francs, about 70 cents) hand-written in French with an ink pen. Élie Boudeau (1853-1912) was a politician and numismatist in late 19th century-early 20th century Paris. He served in the 5th legislature of the Third French Republic from 12 November 1889 to 14 October 1893. He owned a shop in the numismatic district of Paris at 11 Rue Rameau, only a stones throw from the Bibliotheque Nationale and one block from the Rue Vivienne where several coin shops, including CGB, still exist today."

NB: Seller's comment - "Possible damnatio across bust." More likely it is just a random scrape.


In hand with old envelope.



As always, thank you for looking!

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4 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

Are there clear examples of Damnatio Domitian coins? I have a denarius from him as Caesar and I also suspect it is just a scratch (it was NOT sold as Damnatio). 


I would assume damnatio would be more evident by the removal of an emperor's name from the legend ... which I have yet to see for Domitian.

Kevin Butcher shows just such a coin of Tiberius featuring a 'damnatio' against Sejanus.


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