Forces of Galba in Spain. Anonymous, 3 April-2nd half of June 68. Aureus (Gold, 18 mm, 7.39 g, 6 h), uncertain mint in Spain. Group I. GENIO P R Draped youthful bust of the Genius of the Roman people to right, wearing floral wreath; behind, cornucopiae. Rev. MARTI VLTORI Mars, nude but for helmet and parazonium slung around his chest, advancing right, wielding spear in his right hand and holding shield in his left. BMC -, cf. 2 and p. 288, † note (denarius). Calicó -. CG 44.1 (this coin). Cohen -, cf. 384 (denarius). Gollnow & Rutten 1002 (this coin). Martin -, cf. 34 (denarius). Nicolas -, cf. pl. X, 33 RC (same dies, but as a denarius). RIC -, cf. 18 (denarius). Unpublished save for its previous auction appearance, one of only two known examples (the other in a private collection). A very important discovery and of great numismatic interest. Struck from a somewhat corroded obverse die and with a few minor marks, otherwise, good very fine.
From the collection of Dipl.-Ing. Christian Gollnow, Leu 9, 24 October 2021, 1002.
The appearance of this aureus illustrates how much still remains to be discovered in the anonymous coinage of the civil war of 68-69. Known in silver only prior to the publication of the Gollnow collection, our example was struck from the same dies as a denarius in a private collection in Madrid (Nicolas pl. X, 33 RC) and thus shows that the crudely crafted dies were used for both gold and silver coins. Such die sharing between aurei and denarii is not unheard of in the 1st century AD and comes as no surprise in a time of crisis such as Galba's revolt in the spring of 68, when Galba's Spanish mint, being set up quickly, lacked experienced workers and used every opportunity to speed up the striking of coins (for another aureus struck from dies made for denarii, see Gollnow & Rutten 1009). It is worth noting that the obverse die of the present aureus was clearly crafted from the same die cutter as Gollnow & Rutten 1001, thus connecting it to Galba's EID MAR imitation. These coins form part of a group of anonymous coins of somewhat crude but very distinct style (note, in particular, the prominent staring eye), which have been labelled 'Group I' in the Gollnow & Rutten catalogue (lots 1001-4).
The types on this aureus are indicative of Galba's early propaganda, praising both the genius of the Roman people as well as Mars Ultor, the avenging Mars, whose worship had particularly been promoted by Augustus. Much like the coins struck in the name of the first princeps (see Gollnow & Rutten 1042-57, 1152-4 and 1175), the appearance of Mars Ultor on the reverse of Galba's early anonymous coinage connects the revolt to Augustus, while also publicly proclaiming that the rebellion was started to revenge those who have been suppressed by the tyrant - that is, of course, Nero.