Featured Greatest Achievment, His replacement

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Last month we had a thread about who was the most decent of the Roman emperors and not surprisingly Antoninus Pius came in as the number one nice guy emperor. There were a number of runner-up's but, surprising to me, one of them was not the one I would have picked after Antoninus as a very decent emperor, who managed in his brief reign do some pretty good things for the Empire but who is remembered, if at all, for the one act of choosing his replacement. Of course many readers have figured out who I am writing about, Marcus Cocceius Nerva, a ruler who, by both our standards (more or less) and those of the Roman people, was a capable and thoughtful person and ruler.

    Nerva was born into an upper class family in a town about 50 miles outside Rome with some moderately successful relatives and ancestors and who entered the imperial service as a youth. The one notable gap in his education was a lack of expertise, or interest in, military matters, which almost terminated his already abbreviated reign shortly into it. As an upper class Roman in the Imperial service he did well, if not quite spectacularly, and supposedly saved Nero from a conspiracy (that of Piso). He seemed to be the kind of official who did his duty without creating much jealousy or antipathy (according to Dio Cassius, anyway). He managed to hold the friendship of Vespasian, Titus and even for a while that of Domitian (no mean achievement) until near the end when Domitian, in his paranoia at surviving an attempt on his life, started seeing would be assassins everywhere.

    Actually, this losing of Domitian's favor would help Nerva as, when one these phantom Domitian assassins turned out to be all too corporeal, the Senate, fearing another four emperors year in the offing decided Nerva was just the man on the scene who would be an excellent replacement for the not much lamented last of the Flavians. Most of the civilian population agreed, though the army was miffed at not being in on the choice and would make trouble for the new emperor. His reign, though brief, 96-98 AD, saw Nerva make decisions that showed him to be both intelligent and thoughtfully decent. True, he did turn on one group, the semi professional "informers" that Domitian had had on a permanent payroll, as Nerva found it disgusting that slaves and freedmen had informed on their masters and benefited from their executions. Other than these miscreants, Nerva launched no reprisals, even on those who had been involved in Domitian's murder. That is, until the Praetorian Guard of the army, who had always liked and respected the Flavians ( and were grateful for the pay raise Domitian had granted them) mutinied and demanded that the assassins be executed and they were. Nerva was decent but not heroically suicidal. He was also clever enough to keep the army at bay and so chose to do what everyone recalls of Nerva. He chose a popular commander, Marcus Ulpius Trajan, as his adopted son (Nerva had no children) and made him his successor and fellow consul.

    As for the decent part, Nerva sold much of his personal possessions and property and donated it to the governing of the empire, which had suffered some recent financial difficulties. Some of his generosity was for the orphaned children of Rome and he set up some kind of permanent funding for their welfare. He also aided the proletariat of Rome by purchasing rural tracts of land in Italy and settling them on those allotments with funding from the profit of loans to Rome's business community. He also, where he could, returned confiscated land to the surviving families of those murdered by Domitian. Had Nerva been a younger man (he was in his mid sixties when he was chosen by the Senate) or in better health and reigned for a longer period, he might have gone down in history as another "Pius", among the better rulers. It is interesting that the most dominant theme of his coinage was AEQUITAS, justice or fairness. And though brief was his reign, had he ruled longer, he might have been accorded that sobriquet by his contemporaries and historians. In any event he is considered to have been the first of Gibbon's "good emperors".

    Now for the coins. I only have two coins of Nerva. Though his coins are not rare, they are not especially common. The first is a copper As which reads IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR P COS III PP and on the reverse, LIBERTAS PVBLICA P P (something the Roman people appreciated after Domitian's last few years of tyranny). It weighs just over nine grams and is Sear 3064. The second coin is a denarius reading IMP NERVA CAES AVG TRPOT and on the reverse COS III PATER PATRIAE with priestly implements. It weighs 3.14 grams and is sear 952 (early edition). By the way, this second was my first ever Ancient coin, purchased in high school from the Philadelphia Gimbels store on Market Street for $10. If readers have any of Nerva's other coins, please post them, especially any of the AEQUITAS series.

    IMG_1457[5842]Nerva As obv.jpg IMG_1458[5840]Nerva As re..jpg IMG_1459[5838]Nerva denarius obv..jpg IMG_1461[5836]Nerva denarius re..jpg
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  3. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the interesting write-up, @kevin McGonigal! This example is like the second one you posted, and that you acquired for a great price to begin your collection! Did Gimbel's have an "Ancients Department?!" :woot: I think Macy's is now in the former Wanamaker's building that was nearby and is now a National Historic Landmark in Philly.


    Nerva (96-98 AD). AR Denarius. Rome mint. Struck 97 AD. IMP NERVΛCΛES ΛVG P M TR POT, laureate head right / COS III PΛTER PΛTRIΛE, priestly emblems: simpulum, aspergillum, guttus, and lituus. 18mm. 2.98 g.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My only Nerva:

    Nerva AR Denarius 97 AD, Obv. Laureate head right, IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR P COS III P P/ Rev. Fortuna stdg. Left holding rudder & cornucopiae, R FORTVNA AVGVST. Old RIC II 16 (1926 ed.), RSC II 66. 18.6 mm., 3.45 g.

    Nerva Obv 4.jpg

    Nerva Rev. 3.jpg

    @kevin McGonigal said: "[W]ho is remembered, if at all, for the one act of choosing his replacement." To be perfectly honest, I think Nerva is remembered -- at least by ancient coin collectors -- largely for his gigantic nose!
  5. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Yes, a truly "Roman" nose.
    DonnaML likes this.
  6. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Yes, the Gimbel's building, with its cast iron façade is still there as is the present Macy's, nee Wanamaker's, store which still has the "Eagle" and does the organ recitals at Christmas. I actually went down to Gimbels that day to look for some US material but when the salesman showed me the Ancient coins he might as well have thrown a harpoon at me as I was hooked for life.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I remember buying something at the coin department of the New York Gimbels, when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, I can't remember what coin it was.
  8. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a provincial tetradrachm from Antioch. It's my best example of "the nose".

    Nerva Tetradrachm Antioch.1.jpg

    Nerva Tetradrachm Antioch.2.jpg
  9. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Amen-Ra-Hotep

    To see my Nerva, one must travel to Egypt. Still, the nose was known to be prominent by the mint.

    Type: Billon Tetradrachm, 25mm, 12.7 grams, mint of Alexandria year 96-97 A.D.

    Obverse: Bust of Nerva facing right, KAIS SEB AVT NEPOVAS

    Reverse: Agathodaemon serpent coiled with head right, holding caduceus and grain ear within coils, wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. In exergue, LA.

    Reference: Milne 542, Dattari 638 (rare)

  11. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

  12. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Napoleon's troops would have really like the target practice if his image had been on the sphinx.
  13. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Amen-Ra-Hotep

    Haha. That would have been interesting indeed!
    DonnaML likes this.
  14. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    I did buy a silver dollar there, I think in 1970, when I visited NYC with my parents.

    Hudson's department store in Detroit also had a coin counter on the mezzanine. Gimbles, Hudson's - bygone days.
  15. Gary R. Wilson



    Nerva (Augustus)
    Coin: Bronze As
    IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P - Laureate head right
    CONCORDIA EXERCITVVM - Clasped hands; SC in exergue.
    Exergue: SC

    Mint: Rome (97 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 11.30g / 28mm / 6h
    RIC II 79
    BMCRE 121
    Cohen 21
    Roma Numismatics
    Acquisition/Sale: Roma Numismatics Internet E-Sale 56 #824 $0.00 05/19
    Notes: May 9, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection


    Nerva (Augustus)
    Coin: Brass Sestertius
    IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P - Laureate head right
    LIBERTAS PVBLICA - Libertas standing left, holding pileus in right hand and sceptre in left. SC

    Mint: Rome (97AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 24.39g / 34mm / 180
    RIC 86
    C. 114
    BMC 112
    BN 100
    Roma Numismatics
    Acquisition/Sale: Roma Numismatics Internet E-Sale 39 #638 $0.00 8/26/17
    Notes: Jan 4, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection


    Nerva (Augustus)
    Coin: Silver Denarius
    IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR POT II - Laureate head right
    COS III PATER PATRIAE - Priestly implements-implements of the augurate and pontificate: simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), ewer (jug) and lituus (augural wand).
    Mint: Rome (97 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 2.88g / 17mm / 6h
    RIC II 34
    RSC 51
    BMCRE III 56
    BnF III 41
    SRCV II 3023
    Gert Boersema
    Ex col. Frans Pouwel, Netherlands
    Acquisition/Sale: Gert Boersema VCoins $0.00 11/19
    Notes: Nov 29, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection

    Minted 1 Jan - 18 Sep 97 A.D
  16. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    These are all great Nervas!
    Only one "Nose" graces the Frog collection. It is the most expensive coin in the collection and I almost had a heart attack buying it...but I guess you gotta pay the price for such a schnoz.

    IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P, laureate head right
    AEQVITAS AVGVST, Aequitas standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae
  17. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Good write up Kevin, thanks. Here are my rather poor Nerva's

    P1180874kopie.jpg Nerva fortuna (2).JPG P1180227.jpg
  18. Alegandron

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

    Thanks for the thoughtful write up, and nice coins, Kevin!
    RI Nerva AE Dupondius 96-98 CE LIBERTAS PVBLICA -pileus
    Ex: @TIF
    Justin Lee, octavius, zumbly and 12 others like this.
  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    That last one might be a prize-winner for the greatest nose to face ratio.
  20. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's my Nerva with the biggest nose!

    Nerva, AD 96-98.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.21 g, 18.5 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, January - September, AD 97.
    Obv: IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P, laureate head, right.
    Rev: CONCORDIA EXERCITVVM, clasped hands.
    Refs: RIC 14; BMCRE 25-26; Cohen/RSC 20; RCV 3020; CBN 15.
  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I think I've changed my mind about the prizewinner!
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