Silver Denarius of Emperor Nerva

SKU C.5869

96 AD to 98 AD





Gallery Location



Obverse: IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR P COS III PP; Portrait of the Emperor Crowned in a Laurel Wreath
Reverse: LIBERTAS PVBLICA; Libertas Standing to the Left, Holding a Bonnet and a Sceptre

Marcus Cocceius Nerva was born about 30 A.D. into an important senatorial family. The future emperor was a distinguished lawyer who held major political posts under Nero and the Flavians. His part in the successful assassination plot against the emperor Domitian in 96 A.D. is uncertain, but he was elevated to the imperial throne on the very same day. Though strongly supported by the senate, Nerva was forced to deal with the army and the Praetorian Guard, both angry over the death of Domitian. Two of his political allies were killed by the Praetorians for their part in the plot while Nerva was forced to stand by helplessly. Childless, Nerva chose as his successor the greatest military leader of the day, Trajan. This proved to be an excellent decision and set the precedent for the eighty years of good rule that followed; each of the next four emperors, without living heirs, chose the most worthy man to succeed him. Nerva died in January 98 A.D., after a very short reign that had set the Roman Empire back on the path to good government.

How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. Although Nerva ruled for only two years, the impact of his reign would help establish a golden period of prudent government. Today, this coin is an ancient memorial to an overlooked leader passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.

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