Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel…Run for the shadows in these golden years…I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years…Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years…- David Bowe
This new “Journal Entry” provides an update on the 6th Page of my NGC Ancient Custom Set entitled “Golden Age I”. While the Roman Empire’s golden age failed to last a thousand years, it endured long enough to merit more than one Page herein, hence the Roman numeral included in my title.
This particular Page is 67% complete (10 coins out of 15 slots), and for three of those 10 coins my “Owner’s Comments” are pending (one of which is also pending grading).
Here is a link to the Collection…
Here is the synopsis for the Page, entitled "GOLDEN AGE I": A series of effective Emperors - Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian - chosen by merit, rather than birthright, propel Rome to new heights.
The following are comments on the coins I choose for this Page and why…
- Nerva denarius. He was the first regarded by Machiavelli as one in a succession of five “good” Roman Emperors. I choose this denarius for its particularly striking color. It graded AU, strike = 4/5, Surface = 4/5. Over time, the silver surface has accumulated a layer of tarnish (coin collectors generally prefer to use the term “toning”). The resulting red-gold hue is rather spectacular, best appreciated in hand, rather than a photo. I’m not sure what the exact chemical reaction is here to provide such a color, but it seems that this exact hue is relatively rare for toning in silver coins. In any case, I deemed that such a red-golden coin was worthy of the first entry into the Page focusing on Rome’s Golden Age!
- This slot is a denarius of Emperor Trajan, who reigned over the Empire at its greatest geographical extent. So I included in the pictures not only the coin, but also a map showing just how vast an extent the Roman Empire managed to achieve at the time. This coin is in remarkable condition, graded MS, Strike = 5/5, Surface = 5/5.
- This slot contains a denarius that Trajan struck to honor his father, Trajan Pater. This coin graded Ch VF, Strike = 4/5, Surface = 4/5. A charming example of honoring one’s parent!
- This slot contains an ancient Roman provincial bronze featuring Trajan’s wife, namely Empress Plotina. This coin graded XF, Strike = 4/5, Surface = 4/5. The grade is very respectable for an ancient bronze, since bronze represents the most reactive (by far) of all the coinage metals. I still need to complete my Owner’s Comments for this coin. I am having a very difficult time finding out any information about the site of this coin’s strike (Gordus-Julia).
- This entry is reserved for Ulpia Marciana, sister of Emperor Trajan. I still need to fill this one!
- This entry is reserved for Salonia Matidia, neice of Emperor Trajan. I have filled this slot, but I have not yet received an NGC grade for this one, stay tuned.
- I wanted to add example(s) of so-called “Pseudo-Autonomous” coinage as struck in various Roman territories. There is a staggering array of possible coins to consider as representing this class, hard to decide which one to pick as representative. But when I found this particular bronze, struck during the reign of Hadrian, I could not resist including it. The reason it spoke to me was that it included one side the bust of Roma and on the other the bust of Senate, so a very nice pairing and a chance to talk about the history of the Roman Senate. This coin is in very nice condition for an ancient bronze, struck Ch XF, Strike = 4/5, Surface = 4/5. I still need to complete my Owner’s Comments for this one, please stay tuned.
- This coin represents an example of the “Coins of the Mines”. These coins are apparently extremely rare and highly sought after, this one was very hard to find. This one celebrates the highly fruitful Dardanian mines, and graded VF, Strike = 4/5, Surface = 4/5. Read my owner’s comment to learn about the advanced technologies the Roman’s developed to efficiently find, extract, and process precious metal ores. Researching this coin helped me to truly appreciate how important Rome’s mines were to the Empire’s stability.
- This slot is reserved for Hadrian, and although many example abound, I still haven’t found the particular coin that speaks to me to acquire for this slot.
- I figured Hadrian was such an interesting and successful Emperor that he deserved a second slot, and in particular I thought it would be a great opportunity to research and comment on Hadrian’s extensive travels, and the practice, in general, of the Augustus visiting the various realms included as Rome’s vast territories. Like the slot above, I still haven’t found the coin that speaks to me to acquire for this slot.
- For this slot, I felt compelled to include a drachm featuring Antinous, who was, aside from Hadrian himself, was one of the most famous people of his time. I like to describe Antinous as the ancient world's first and foremost male supermodel. He was lover to Hadrian, historians as wont to call him Hadrian’s favorite. One should consider in ancient Rome, having inherited Hellenistic influences, that homosexuality and/or bisexuality was not so unusual, and arguably the norm, particularly among aristocracy. The story of Antinous and Hadrian in an extremely fascinating chapter in the history of the Roman Empire, and I encourage anyone interested in learning more, please see my owner’s comments.
- This slot is reserved for Sabina, wife of Hadrian, and I still haven’t found the coin that speaks to me to acquire for this slot.
- This coin is very special in that it could feasibly be considered a religious artifact. It is a silver zuz strike by the Judeans during their period of independence they achieved in the Bar Kokhba War. This coin is in outstanding condition, Ch MS Strike = 5/5, Surface = 4/5. This particular conflict was most horrific – to the extent that the battle-weary Hadrian, in addressing the Senate of the situation, omitted the customary greeting “I and my army are well.” This coin is fascinating since one can discern the Hebrew inscription “For the freedom of Jerusalem,” as well as evidence of an overstrike on a Roman denarius, notably the Latin inscription IMP TRAIANO AVG, denoting imperator Augustus Trajan. Such melding of Trajan denarius and Bar Kokhba zuz on the same flan provides a poignant, if mind-boggling, composition. It is also interesting that Bar Kokhba’s patriotic inscriptions mimicked the Romans’ use of coinage as propaganda for raising political and military support. For more fascinating details, please see my Owner’s Comments.
- This entry is reserved for Aelius Caesar. I still need to fill this one!
- The Roman Empire wasn’t the only ancient realm experiencing a Golden Age. Their rivals at the time, namely the Parthians, were also arguably in the middle of their own Golden Age. So I thought I would end this Page with this spectacularly preserved drachm, graded Ch MS, Strike = 5/5, Surface = 5/5. I obtained this coin since I was so astounded at its condition, but furthermore, I have an interest in the Parthian Empire. I managed to start another collection to have in parallel with the Roman Empire collection, but I never got very far on that collection as I would have liked (I had to focus on one, and I choose the Roman Empire). Read my Owner’s Comments to learn more about the enigmatic Parthains.