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    Description

    Fine Style Realistic Portrait of Four-Month Emperor

    Vitellius (AD 69). AV aureus (18mm, 7.49 gm, 6h). NGC (photo-certificate) AU 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style, edge bump. Tarraco (?), 2 January-18 April 69, prior to the Senate's award of the title of Augustus. A VITELLIVS-IMP GERMAN, laureate head of Vitellius left; globe at point of bust, palm branch in lower left field / VICTORIA-AVGVSTI, Victory flying left, shield inscribed S P/Q R in right hand. RIC I 35. Calic├│ 576a. BMC 91 note (this coin cited). Extremely rare, possibly the finest of very few specimens known. Lifelike portrait with wonderful old cabinet toning.

    Ex The Archer M. Huntington collection of Roman Gold Coins (Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 67, 17 October 2012), lot 129 (realized $281,721); Ponton d'Amecourt, 126 Spain; Hispanic Society of America 22299.

    The son of the influential senator Lucius Vitellius, Aulus Vitellius was born in AD 15 and raised in the luxury befitting a wealthy consular's son. The younger Vitellius developed a penchant for gambling along with a gourmand's appetites and corpulent physique. He served as Consul in AD 48, where he acquitted himself well, but resumed his disreputable habits in later years. This served to land him heavily in debt by the time Nero's regime collapsed in AD 68. The new emperor, Galba, appointed Vitellius governor of Germania Inferior, believing him to utterly without ambition or talent, and therefor a safe choice. But officers in the Rhine legions grew disenchanted with Galba's parsimony and persuaded Vitellius to make a try for the throne. On January 1, AD 69, the Rhine legions proclaimed Vitellius emperor at the city of Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne). His promise of lavish bonuses and easy discipline quickly won the legions of Gaul, Britain and Raetia over to his cause. His march on Rome took on the appearance of a Bacchic procession, with his soldiers drinking heavily and pillaging the countryside. In the meantime, Galba has been overthrown at Rome by Otho, who marched north with the Praetorian Guard. The hard-fought First Battle of Bedriacum in mid-April went to Vitellius' larger force, and Otho opened his veins. Arriving in Rome, Vitellius was confirmed as emperor by a reluctant Senate. He treated his elevation as an excuse for one long banquet, reportedly spending the equivalent of $2 billion on delicacies from all over the Empire. While he indulged his appetites, the armies of the East proclaimed the general Vespasian as emperor on July 1, launching a new round of civil war. The legions of the Danube joined in the revolt and invaded Italy on Vespasian's behalf. Within weeks, soldiers loyal to Vespasian forced their way into Rome and swept aside all opposition. They found Vitellius hiding in the imperial doorkeeper's quarters. Hauled half-naked to the Forum, the onetime emperor was mocked, tortured, and slain. His corpse was dumped unceremoniously in the Tiber.

    This coin has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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    The pre-sale publicity was more than I imagined, and the actual catalog better than I had expected - and my expectations were high!
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