An AS of Caligula, the last coin I needed to have the 12 Caesars

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by johnmilton, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Earlier in the week I said that I had ordered an AS of Caligula, which was last Caesar I needed to have one coin from each of the first 12 Caesars. The concept of the 12 Caesars is inspired by De Vita Caesarum (The Lives of the Caesars) by Suetonius who was secretary to the Emperor Hadrian.

    As I did with the British kings, I have started a "bullet book" to help me remember at least of fraction of the history. Here is my new coin along with the text of that book.

    This coin is not overly rare, but almost all of them are ugly. This one is no exception, but the price was right. When another $1,000 doesn't add that much to the esthetics, the time has come to buy consider buying something that is half way decent.

    Caligula AS Me O.jpg Caligula AS Me R.jpg

    Copper AS of Caligula, Obverse, “C CAESAR AVG GERMANICUS PON M TR POT” Reverse, VESTA S C, Vesta seated holding a patera and scepter. Sear variety # 1803. The “S C” on the revers stands for “Senatus Consulto” by the consent of the Senate. The Caligula denarius is a scarce and expensive coin, which why I placed this AS in my collection instead.

    · Caligula’s real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. While his father was conducting his military campaigns in Germany, he acquired the nickname, Caligula, from the soldiers because of the small military boots he wore that were called “caligae.”

    Calig boot.jpg

    · Caligula was the great-grand son of both Mark Antony and Octavian. He was the youngest son of Germanicus and Agrippina Senior.

    · After his father died, his mother and his two older brothers moved to Rome. There they fell victim to the political ambitions of the praetorian prefect Sejanus. His mother and brothers were exiled and put to death, but he was spared because of his young age.

    · In 32 AD, he moved to Capreae where he became the constant companion of his great-uncle, Tiberius. He became the heir to the throne and became emperor when Tiberius died in 37 AD.

    · He showed promise of becoming a worthy emperor during the early months of his reign perhaps because of the influence of his grandmother, Antonia. Then he fell gravely ill. After he recovered, it seemed that he took on a different personality.

    · Caligula was odd, both mentally and physically. As a boy he suffered from “the falling sickness” which could have been epilepsy. As an adult he was very tall and thin and extremely pale. His neck and legs were very thin. His eyes and temples were hollow, and his forehead was broad and grim. He was nearly bald, but he had a great deal of body hair. Some said that he looked like goat. If he happened to hear that, it was a capital offense.

    · He manner was moody and inconsistent. He could jovial one minute and became petulant and angry the next. Speculations about his condition range from schizoid, schizophrenic or just a common alcoholic. Some have speculated that he suffered from lead poisoning caused by the lead water pipes that were used in Rome. He slept poorly and often had nightmares. He was known to wonder the halls of his residences at night seeking relief from his demons.

    · He was, however, a gifted speaker who knew Greek and Latin. It was said that he could compose erudite speeches almost off the cuff that required others spend hours compiling.

    · Caligula became a cruel and paranoid leader. Those who were around him feared for their lives. He disagreed sharply with the Senate and made many enemies.

    · The story that he once considered appointing his favorite horse to position in the government was probably more of a joke than reality.

    · His sexual appetites were said to perverse and violent. He was into homosexuality and sadomasochism.

    · The praetorian guard formed a plot to assassinate Caligula. On January 24, 41 AD, he was assassinated before guards loyal to him could intervene.

    · Much of the contemporary history that was written about Caligula was destroyed after his death. Most of what we know of his rule was written 80 to 180 years after his rule. Those histories emphasized the worst of his behavior. Still it is more than likely that Caligula was a deranged and violent person.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Congrats, that s nice one of him.

    Caligula (37 - 41 A.D.)
    AE30 AS
    O: C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS IMP, laureate head left.
    R: SEGO BRIGA in wreath.
    Segobriga Mint
    Burgos 1724

    Caligula (37-41 A.D.)
    AR Drachm
    CAPPADOCIA, Caesarea
    O: C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS Bare head of Caligula to right.
    R: IMPERATOR PONT MAX AVG TR POT Simpulum and lituus.
    BMC 102. RIC 63 Sear 1798
  4. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Congrats on your new coin and completion of your set!

    Caligula (Gaius), AE As
    Struck 37-38 AD, Rome mint

    Obverse: C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, bare head of Caligula left.
    Reverse: VESTA, Vesta, veiled and draped, seated left on throne with ornamented back and legs, holding patera in right hand and long transverse sceptre in left, S-C across field.
    References: RIC I 38
    Size: 29mm, 11.7g
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Love the bullet points! Last one is very interesting.

    Very nice coin, @johnmilton .

    I have an ugly As.
    RI Gaius Caligula AE As 37-41 CE Vesta seated S-C
  6. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    Congratulations! Nice historic coin in collectible quality :)

    I have to disagree that almost all are ugly though....

  7. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Oh I agree. That one is really nice, but how many years did it take you to find it? I saw a couple that were sharper with slightly smoother surfaces, but the price was $500 + $1,000 more with green corrosion.

    I saw one pice with a look similar to yours, but there spots on the piece that looked like they were going to keep chewing on the copper, no matter what you did to it.
  8. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    It took some years, yes. I had one like yours meanwhile.
    I paid 275£ plus juice for the coin pictured, but it’s like you say; it takes time to find the right coin at the right moment. I have also always chosen to find something decent in price and quality to «fill the hole» and to upgrade later if the opportunity comes. I’m now waiting for the «right» denarius.
    Gary R. Wilson and Carl Wilmont like this.
  9. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Nice one in great condition, I have one I bought very cheaply as it had corrosion problems at one stage all good now though. Caligula.jpg
  10. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  11. bcuda

    bcuda Supporter! Supporter

    Nice write up and nice coin !

    Having a silver one does not fit my budget either.
    Here are my non silver.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  12. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Nice coin and write-up. It's good to be reminded of Caligula once and a while.
  13. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the Dandy Dozen! Poor Caligula. Given his upbringing and the depredations of Tiberius, I don’t think the kid ever stood a chance. Not to excuse his horrific crimes. But I don’t think monsters are born, they‘re made.
  14. Gary R. Wilson


    Caligula is my favorite evil emperor. I'm fascinated by the "Damnatio Memoriae" on many of his coins. Here is a coin which may be marked in such a way. I can't tell for sure if the marks across his face are man made or not. The ancient sources do say that when Caligula was assassinated, the first sword blow came across his jaw or shoulder area. Oh well, it's fun to imagine.

    imgonline-com-ua-twotoone-zg2aP0ewwCVrhb-Caligula damnatio.jpg

    Caligula (Augustus)
    Coin: Bronze AS
    Vesta SC - Vesta, veiled and draped, seated left, on throne with ornamented back and legs, holding patera in right hand and long transverse sceptre in left

    Mint: Rome (37-38 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 10.40g / 28mm / 6h
    Rarity: Common
    RIC I 38
    BMCRE 46
    BN 54
    Cohen 27
    Acquisition/Sale: indalocolecciones eBay $0.00 01/19
    Notes: Aug 22, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection

    This coin, the standard type from 37-39 AD is rated common.
  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I'm hopeful myself of finding a Caligula coin that looks decent and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I'm very tempted by this one, which is offered as an RIC 38 As and looks like one, but I'm a bit reluctant because it's on ebay, from a seller I never heard of, and it seems much less expensive than other examples of similar quality -- under $400, with the seller (located in Illinois) accepting offers for even less. (I'm not identifying the seller because I'm not sure of the etiquette of doing so here.) Does it look authentic to people here?

    Ebay Caligula As obverse.jpg

    Ebay Caligula As reverse.jpg
  16. David@PCC


    Looks fine. Eventually prices catch up, I sold all of my Vestas for around $150 a few years ago. Seems cheap now but 15 years ago they sat for a very long time.
    DonnaML likes this.
  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you.
  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I made the seller an offer for $40 under the asking price and he or she promptly accepted it, so I'm now the pleased owner of this coin. I'm curious to see how it looks in person -- I suspect that the photos were taken under a lot of illumination and that the original is probably quite dark -- but I'm perfectly OK with that given the comparatively low price. I know I'm not going to find another one right now with complete legends and visible details for less money -- and ebay just showed me another example in a slab that doesn't look materially better, from a dealer who calls himself "high rating low price," for $4,400!
  19. bcuda

    bcuda Supporter! Supporter

    Looks like you might have been very lucky to have bought the coin for the price.
    The high rating low price seller is famous for exactly the opposite of their own name.
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I got mine from FSR over 30 years ago. It was my first "expensive" coin purchase (and still one of only a few) - about $400 at the time.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 5.36.53 PM.jpg
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