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Sestertius of Severus Alexander

John Ruczynski unearthed this coin from a very muddy field that had been used to grow a crop of turnips. As if the mud wasn’t enough, the field was also littered with sheep droppings. Those outside out hobby would think we are mad for trudging about in those conditions. Those inside our hobby know that it can be worthwhile if only a single decent find turns up.

John’s find is a Roman sestertius, which measures 33mm in diameter. It is a coin of Severus Alexander, whose dates are AD 222 to 235. On the obverse the legend reads IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG around the laureate head of the emperor. On the reverse the standing figure of Annona holds a cornucopia and corn ears over a modius (a measure of wheat) set at her feet; she is flanked by S C, with both letters placed lower down than usual. The surrounding legend reads PROVIDENTIA AVG.

In volume II of David Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values sestertii of this type are listed as number 8013. They were issued in AD 231 and Sear mentions that the legend relates to the emperor’s foresight in providing for Rome’s annual grain supply.


The coin would grade good Fine and has nice looking pale green patination on both sides. It’s not a scarce type but in its present condition it should be worth around £60 to a collector.

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