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Sear + Kraay + Clay = A Delightful Domitian

David Atherton

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I got this ex Curtis Clay coin because of the stellar portrait and neat provenance. Plus, I really dig these big o'l chunky bronzes!



Domitian as Caesar [Titus]
Æ Sestertius, 25.48g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD
Obv: CAES DIVI AVG VESP F DOMITIANVS COS VII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: PAX AVGVST; S C in field; Pax stg. l., with branch and cornucopiae
RIC 288 (R). BMC 230. BNC 236.
Ex Harlan J Berk BBS 225, 30 November 2023, lot 137. Ex Curtis Clay Collection. Acquired from B A Seaby, mid-1960s, with handwritten ticket by David Sear.

A reverse type struck for both Titus and Domitian Caesar symbolising the bountiful prosperity Pax and the emperor have provided. DIVI AVG VESP F tells us the coin was struck after Vespasian's deification. The date of Vespasian's consecratio is dated by the epigraphic evidence sometime between 8 September 79 and 29 May 80. Nathan T. Elkins has proposed that the opening games of the Colosseum were in honour of Vespasian's deification. If so, this sestertius could not have been struck much earlier than June 80. Engraved with a severe Titus-like portrait.

In hand.


In addition to the striking portrait (no pun intended!), the provenance attracted me as well. Apparently purchased in the mid-1960s, the piece comes with a handwritten tag from David Sear. Visible on the tag is the price of $2.95 and a curious note: 'surely genuine; says C. M. Kraay'. Colin Kraay (1918-1982) was an eminent numismatist and keeper of coins at the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean. He published extensively on Flavian bronzes.



The tag rates the coin as 'common', although RIC II.1 classifies it as 'rare'.

As always, thank you for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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  • David Atherton changed the title to Sear + Kraay + Clay = A Delightful Domitian
1 hour ago, CPK said:

Great looking portrait! Wish I could have bought it for $2.95. 😄

Adjusted for inflation $2.95 in 1965 is $30 today. Ummm ... OK ... 🤷‍♂️

Obviously, before I made Domitian cool.

Edited by David Atherton
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