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Vespasian Bronze From Ephesus (?)

David Atherton

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The rather small issue of imperial bronze coins struck under Vespasian somewhere in Asia Minor are difficult to find in trade. I count myself lucky whenever I can add one to the collection!



Æ27, 10.94g
Ephesus (?) mint, 77-78 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIAN AVGVSTVS; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: PONT MAX TR POT P P COS VIII CENS; S C in field; Jupiter stg. l., with thunderbolt and sceptre
RIC 1501 (R2). BMC 893. BNC -. RPC 1474 (1 spec.).
Ex Harlan J Berk BBS 225, 30 November 2023, lot 91. Ex Curtis Clay Collection. Ex Leu E17, Pt. 2, 15 August 2021, lot 2361.

Late in Vespasian's reign an exceedingly rare series of orichalcum bronze coins were struck in Asia Minor at an unknown mint. Although imperial in appearance, the style, weight system, and metal used all point to a mint other than Rome. Due to their extreme rarity today, they could not have been struck for any great length of time (the date cannot be narrowed down any further than Vespasian's COS VIII, 77-78 AD). The types consist of ones variously copied from either Rome or local provincial issues. A stylistic similarity with the earlier 'o' mint denarii possibly struck at Ephesus has been noted by both RIC and RPC. This Jupiter standing type may have been intended to circulate as a dupondius (BMCRE attributes it as such).

In hand.


Compare this near contemporary 'o' mint denarius in similar style.



AR Denarius, 3.06g
Ephesus (?) mint, 76 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r., 'o' mint mark below neck
Rev: PRINCEPS IVVENTVT; Spes, draped, advancing l., holding up flower in r. hand and with l. holding up her skirt.
RIC 1479 (R2). BMC 492. BNC -. RPC 1455 (2 spec.). RSC 393a.
Ex Harlan J Berk BBS 224, 14 September 2023, lot 124. Ex Curtis Clay Collection.

You be the judge!

Thank you for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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2 hours ago, Limes said:

Nice addition. Your question makes me wonder. If the silver issue has the o mark below the neck, why does the bronze issue lacks this mintmark? Note; im not an expert in any way....!

The annulet was likely employed as a control mark of some kind, which was probably more important for precious metal coinage than bronze. 

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