Lovely Aureus of Nero

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is excited about our upcoming world and ancient coin auction held in Baltimore in conjunction with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo. In just about a month numismatists and coin dealers from around the nation and beyond will gather to buy, sell and trade. Among the highlights of our ancient coin sale is this lovely Aureus of the Roman emperor Nero.

This beautiful piece represents the public relations campaign that Nero must have authorized after the Great Fire of Rome, which occurred in 64 A.D. The deity Concordia seated facing left adorns the reverse. As the personification of Harmony, Nero likely wanted to emphasis that, despite the disaster of the great fire the Roman capital would recover. Nero’s contemporaries blamed him for the start of the fire, as he wanted space to build his palatial “Domus Aurea” (Golden House). Although he did build his palace over portions of the burnt out city, Nero also provided enormous sums of his own personal wealth to the public relief efforts and reconstruction.

In an era without mass marketing of political ideas, coinage in ancient Rome provided a useful medium to relay political messages. Coins were portable, easily understood, and relatively durable. This Aureus portrays that Nero, pictured on the obverse with a bearded head and crowned with laurel, wanted to assure his subjects that despite the enormous and disastrous fire, he would lead them into a new era of harmony. Despite his negative historiography by ancient historians, most modern historians have come to the conclusion that he must have enjoyed a good deal of popularity among the common people. This is evidenced by the post mortem “Nero pretenders” who arose and attempted to reclaim the seat of Emperor. Without public support these pretenders would likely not have had any mention in history.

Look for this and other ancient and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming official October/November auction with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this October at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. While our October/November Baltimore auction is no longer open for consignments, we are currently taking consignments of ancient and world coins for our January 2015 New York International Auction and our inaugural December Macau Showcase Auction of Asian Coins and Currency. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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