Ancients: Twelve Caesars

Posted by David Vagi, Director of Ancients on 5/10/2011

We are fortunate that an extraordinary collection of gold aurei portraying all of the "Twelve Caesars" was recently graded by NGC Ancients.

The popularity and value of ancient coins are often derived from a connection to the non-numismatic world. People frequently become involved in the field because they have an interest in another aspect of the ancient world, such as geography, monuments, or famous people.

Novels, cinema productions and academic books have inspired many collections of ancient coins. Travel in Europe, North Africa and the Near East also draws attention to collecting ancient coins, for archaeological sites in these areas preserve many aspects of life in the Greco-Roman world. Any one of these encounters might spark an interest that leads to a lifelong passion for ancient coins.

Productions such as Robert Graves’ “I, Claudius” and HBO’s “Rome” have generated much interest in Julius Caesar and the Julio-Claudian emperors. Not only did these men engineer Rome’s transformation from a Republic to a hereditary monarchy, but the details of their lives are preserved in histories written by the biographers Suetonius and Tacitus not long afterward.

We are fortunate that an extraordinary collection of gold aurei portraying all of the ‘Twelve Caesars’ was recently graded by NGC Ancients. It is by no means the first set we have graded, but it is by far the finest of those submitted. Beyond its quality, the set is distinguished by an aureus with the portrait of Julius Caesar, which is very rare and is prized by any advanced collector of Roman gold.

It is always a pleasure to see a well-matched collection because it represents an achievement on the part of the collector. In this case it took about a decade of diligent searching to build the set.

We invite you to view the new Twelve Caesars gallery on our website devoted to these coins. When you visit we hope you will enjoy the high resolution images, the historical introduction, and specific commentaries on the coins and the rulers who issued them.