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    Nerva's Masterstroke

    Nerva (AD 96-98). AV aureus (19mm, 7.25 gm, 6h). NGC VF 5/5 - 3/5. Rome, AD 97. IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P, laureate head of Nerva right / FORTVNA P R, Fortuna seated left, holding corn ears and scepter. RIC 17. BMCRE 40. Cohen 78. Calicó 967 (S3).

    An elderly senator from a venerable family, Marcus Cocceius Nerva was elected as emperor by the Senate in the immediate aftermath of Domitian's assassination. He had been something of a chameleon during his career, loyally serving Nero and the men who deposed and replaced him with equal fervor and competence. Once raised to the purple, he pledged to end Domitian's treason trials and restore constitutional government. In truth his rule proved too easy-going and the Roman army only supported their non-military emperor with surly reluctance. In October AD 97, the Praetorians stormed the palace and forced Nerva to hand over Domitian's killers for execution. This humiliation led Nerva to make his one masterstroke: He formally adopted the popular general M. Ulpius  Trajanus as his son and successor, a move which immediately quelled all military tumult and led to a smooth transition of power upon his death four months later. Even considering that it was struck during Nerva's brief 15-month Principate, this is a surprisingly rare aureus type: A search of archives for major auction houses revealing only two other examples offered at public auction over the last 10 years. 


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
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