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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 142. Estimate CHF8000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF9000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Vitellius. 69. Denarius (Silver, 3.48 g 6), Rome, April-December 69. A VITELLIVS GERMAN IMP TR P Laureate head of Vitellius to right Rev. XV VIR SACR FAC Tripod with covered vessel; below, raven standing right; above, dolphin to right. BMC 17. Cohen 112 var. RIC 86. Beautifully toned and with a lovely portrait struck in high relief. Some minor marks, otherwise, good extremely fine.

From the collection of a Gentleman, ex Bank Leu 30, 28 April 1982, 320.

Aulus Vitellius was born in AD 15 and was the son of the distinguished consul, Lucius Vitellius. He had a number of governmental positions but was, somewhat unexpectedly appointed governor of Lower Germany by Galba in late 68. Due to Galba’s parsimony about donatives, the legions in Germany revolted and acclaimed Vitellius emperor. His army was successful against Otho, who had by then replaced Galba, and soon entered Rome. His intentions were basically good but his insatiable gluttony and his lack of control over his own troops led to the revolt of Vespasian and the legions of the East. These disciplined forces soon routed those of Vitellius and he himself was found hiding, killed and his body tossed into the Tiber. His portraits reveal someone who was certainly fond of food, but whose personality was merely weak rather than evil (his replacement of imperial freedmen by members of the equites was a change of lasting utility that led to better government).