A New Die-Link Between Severan Coins

Joanna L. Schmitz

University of Colorado, Boulder

This paper reports on a newly discovered die-link between an aureus of the ill-fated Severan emperor Geta and a denarius of his father, Septimius Severus.  The aureus, which resides in the Wilton Jaffee Collection at the University of Colorado at Boulder, shares with the British Museum's denarius a distinctive reverse.  A personification of Victory is shown with wings, striding to the right, but looking left, holding military standards over her left shoulder and leading a small child by her right hand.  The legend above reads VICTORIAE BRIT, illuminating the fact that this coin was issued in celebration of a victory in Septimius' British campaign.  While the subject of the reverse type had previously narrowed the denarius' date to AD 201-210, this die's pairing with a Geta obverse bearing specific titulature pins the date of both coins to AD 210.

A third coin, an aureus of Caracalla, shares this reverse type, if not the same die.  Analysis of the obverse portraits of Septimius, Caracalla, and Geta on these victory coins reinforces the trends seen in Severan portraiture in other media.  All three emperors were promoted as equal, interchangeable, and virtually indistinguishable.  The discovery of this die-link has even greater implications for the study of coinage as a medium by which the emperor communicated specific values to his people.  Consideration of the mechanics of the minting process and the tendency of a reverse die to break before an obverse die does reveals that the pairing of these obverse portraits with this victory reverse was a conscious decision rather than a result of production.  In this way, this paper sheds light on coinage as a vehicle for the promotion of Severan imperial ideals.


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