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Julia Titi. Augusta, AD 79-90/1. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.51 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Titus, AD 80-81. IVLIA AVGVSTA TITI AVGUSTI F, diademed and draped bust right; hair in long plait / VENVS AVGVST, Venus, seen half from behind, naked to the hips, standing right, resting elbow on column, holding transverse scepter and crested helmet. RIC II.1 388 (Titus); RSC 14; BMCRE 141-3 (Titus); BN 106-7 (Titus). Beautifully toned, some faint hairlines under tone. Near EF.

Ex Thomas A. Palmer Collection, purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, August 1995; Leu 59 (17 May 1994), lot 264; Leu 45 (26 May 1988), lot 323.

Flavia Julia Titi was born in AD 65 as the daughter of Titus Flavius Vespasianus, an up-and-coming junior officer in the Roman Army. Titus was soon forced to divorce Julia’s mother, whose family was implicated in a plot against the Emperor Nero. Three years later, Vespasian seized the throne and Titus, his eldest son, was named Caesar and heir-apparent. Julia was Titus’ only child and soon became a pawn in the game of dynastic politics. In her teens, Julia evidently developed an attachment to Titus’ younger brother Domitian. When she came of age, Titus, perhaps reluctantly, proposed that she marry Domitian. But Domitian was enamored with another lady and refused the match. A short time later Julia was betrothed to a cousin, Flavius Sabinus, who was just starting on his political career. In AD 79, Vespasian died and Titus became sole emperor. One of his first official acts was to raise Julia to the rank of Augusta, or Empress, the first woman in more than a decade to hold that exalted position. He struck this lovely coin for the occasion, pairing Julia’s obverse portrait with a charming image of Venus with her half-covered derriere turned coyly to the viewer. Julia thus became the first reigning Roman empress to be honored with a regular issue of Roman coins struck solely in her own name.