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Vespasian Salus With Snake

David Atherton

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This is one you don't see everyday.


Æ As, 11.84g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: SALVS AVGVSTI; S C in field; Salus resting on column r., feeding snake out of patera
RIC 319 (R2). BMC 619A. BNC -.
Ex Rex Numismatics, Auction 1, 15 July 2023, lot 348.

Salus resting on column and feeding snake is an extremely rare type for Vespasian, it is more commonly associated with the denarii struck for Domitian Caesar. This Salus type may be attributed to the health and well-being of the emperor. It is known for Vespasian only from a unique dupondius (RIC 60) and this as variety, of which only a few specimens have been recorded. Whatever the cause for the type being struck for Vespasian, it must have been fleeting based on the scarcity of the pieces. A reverse die match with the BM specimen.

Please feel free to share your Salus coins.

As always, thank you for looking!

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Excellent acquisition, very nice and very scarce.

Faustina II Orichalcum Dupondius, 13.55g, 27mm. Rome 161-164 CE.
RIC 1671, Sear 5303, BMCRE 995, Cohen 201.
FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, diademed draped bust right / SALVTI AVGVSTAE, SC below, Salus seated left on a low decorative chair, feeding from a patera a serpent coiled around and raising up from altar.



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I have a similar reverse type from Hadrian, in a group lot. The coin is a little better in hand but my photo was clumsy. 


23,6 mm, 4,7 g.
Hadrian 117-138 AD. Ӕ as. Rome. 126-127.
HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, head of Hadrian, laureate, right / COS III // S C (in field), Salus standing right, rarely leaning on column, holding snake and feeding it from patera.
RIC II, Part 3 (second edition) Hadrian 881.

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Congratulations! I am very impressed by the way you're able to find all your extremely rare Flavians. (Did you see that a new HJB Sale was launched today with Part II of the Curtis Clay Collection, including a whole lot of Vespasian sestertii?)

Here are Salus and her alternate manifestation, Valetudo:

Roman Republic, Manius Acilius Glabrio, AR Denarius, 50 BCE (Harlan and BMCRR) or 49 BCE (Crawford), Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head of Salus right, wearing necklace and earring, with hair collected behind in knot ornamented with jewels, SALVTIS upwards behind head / Rev. Valetudo [an alternate manifestation of Salus]* [Harlan says portrayal is of a statue of Valetudo] standing left, holding snake with right hand and resting left arm on column, MN•ACILIVS [downwards on right] III•VIR•VALETV [upwards on left] [MN and TV monogrammed].  RSC I Acilia 8, Crawford 442/1a, Sydenham 922, Sear RCV I 412 (ill.), Harlan, RRM II Ch. 30 at pp. 229-238, BMCRR Rome 3945. 17.5 mm., 3.98 g.  


* Valetudo was essentially another manifestation of Salus (portrayed on the obverse), the goddess of health and well-being -- a concept sometimes “extended to include not only physical health but also the general welfare of the Roman people, the army and the state.” John Melville Jones, Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (London, 1990) at p. 276.  This is the only Roman coin to depict a personification of Valetudo. See id. at p. 314. [Remainder of footnote omitted.]

My very mediocre Nero Salus:

Nero AR Denarius, Obv. Laureate head right, IMP CAESAR AVG P P/ Rev. Salus seated, holding patera, SALVS in exergue. RIC I 71, RSC II 316. 19 mm., 3.3 g.


Maximinus I Thrax, AE Sestertius, 236-238 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG GERM / Rev. Salus seated left, holding patera with outstretched right hand and using it to feed a serpent rising from an altar; resting left arm on side of chair, SALVS AVGVSTI; S C in exergue. RIC IV 85, BMCRE 175-176, Cohen 92, Sear RCV III 8338 (ill.). 31 mm., 17.58 g., 12 h.


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