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Extremely Rare Severus II Argenteus

Severus II as Caesar (AD 306-306). AR argenteus (19mm, 3.41 gm, 12h). Serdica, May AD 305-July 306. SEVERV-S NOB C, laureate head of Severus right / VIRTVS MILITVM, camp gate with arched open doorway surmounted by three beacons, • SM • SDA • in exergue. RIC --. RSC --. See MAC 62, lot 2089 for an example struck from the same dies. Extremely rare, one of fewer than six known examples! Minor black deposits, otherwise Choice Mint State.

A competent but undistinguished soldier, Flavius Valerius Severus owed his elevation as Caesar to his old comrade-in-arms Galerius, who hoped to "stack the deck" in the Second Tetrarchy with men loyal to himself. As Caesar of the West, Severus technically served under Constantius I Chlorus, with Italy, Pannonia and Africa as his territories. From his base of Milan, Severus passed a relatively uneventful 15 months as Caesar before Constantius fell ill and died at York, Britain, in July of AD 306. Galerius elevated Severus to Augustus of the west, but the armies of Constantius instead hailed his son Constantine as Emperor. Galerius reluctantly acknowledged Constantine as Caesar, thus restoring the Tetrarchy, but the turn of events inspired Maxentius, son of the retired emperor Maximian, to make his own bid for the throne in Rome. Eager for past glories, Maximian came out of retirement to back his son's revolt. Galerius ordered Severus to march on Rome and crush the usurpers, but before he got far his army defected en masse, won over by their past service to Maximian and his bribes. Severus surrendered and abdicated in early AD 307 on condition that his life be spared. But when the furious Galerius invaded Italy himself in AD 307, Severus was summarily executed. He seems not to have impressed many people during his brief reign, least of all his own soldiers, who abandoned him at the first opportunity.

Serdica was the only mint to strike a regular issue of argentei for the short-lived Second Tetrarchy. Until very recently, Serdican argentei were known only for the two Augusti, Constantius I and Galerius, and for the Caesar Maximinus II (see the following lot). All of these argentei are rare: those of the Augusti are rated R4 in RIC, and the argenteus of Maximinus II is rated R5 (unique), although at least three have been offered at auction in the past few years (see Heritage sale 3020, 6 September 2012, lot 25279). It always seemed logical that Serdica should have struck argentei for Severus II as well, and that the lack of an actual example was attributable to the obscurity of the entire emission. With the present specimen, the existence of this hypothetical variety is now confirmed.

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Auction Dates
Sep-Oct, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 1
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