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Wonderful Galba


Galba. AD 68-69. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.57 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa July AD 68 - January AD 69. IMP SER GALBA AVG, bare head right / S P Q R/ O • B/ C S in three lines within oak wreath. RIC I 167; RSC 287; BMCRE 34 corr. (head described as laureate); BN 76-7. Iridescent tone. Near EF. Wonderful portrait.

Ex New York Sale I (3 December 1998), lot 242.

Achieving the throne at age 70, Galba was a wizened Roman aristocrat whose sagging, craggy countenance could not have been more different than that of his predecessor, the bloated and dissolute Nero. His coinage pairs his aged, scowling portrait with reverses touting traditional Roman virtues, here depicting the Corona Civica, awarded to Galba by the Senate for sparing Roman’s populace from Nero’s tyranny. Rome’s mint masters rose brilliantly to the challenge of depicting their new, aged emperor, producing astoundingly lifelike and sculptural portraits such as the present example.