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Denarius of Galba

This coin was unearthed by John Ruczynski. It’s a denarius of Galba, who was one of the men who competed for supreme power during the civil wars of AD 68-69.

In AD 68 there was a revolt by various factions after Nero committed suicide. Galba was proclaimed emperor by his troops and the Senate and he marched to Rome. However, he proved to be very unpopular and in January of AD 69 he was assassinated, whereupon some of the legions proclaimed Vitellius as emperor. In Rome Otho was proclaimed emperor but in April he was defeated in battle by an army loyal to Vitellius and shortly afterwards Otho committed suicide. In July Vespasian was proclaimed emperor at Alexandria and defeated the troops sent against him by Vitellius. The latter was murdered in his palace and Vespasian became the undisputed master at Rome, which brought an end to the civil wars.

On the obverse of John’s coin is a very striking portrait of Galba and a legend that reads IMP SER GALBA CAESAR AVG. On the reverse is the standing figure of Livia and a legend reading DIVA AVGVSTA. In volume I of David Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values this denarius is illustrated as a variety of number 2102 (it lacks P M at the end of the obverse legend). Sear dates it to November of AD 68 to January of AD 69.


The toning is dark but attractive and this is a nice example of a rare denarius. The obverse would grade VF but the reverse is not as sharp. In its present condition the price to a collector would be around £350.

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