E-Auction 47

Closed September 6, 2023
E47, Lot 301

12 COINS. THE SEVERAN DYNASTY. An interesting selection of 12 attractive denarii in high grades--Pat Zabel had a good eye for coins and picked for quality. All are fully attributed in pdf attached to listing below. Septimius Severus (1); Julia Domna (1); Caracalla (3); Plautilla (3); Geta (4).

Septimius Severus was of Punic and Italian ancestry and born into a high ranking senatorial family. He was an extremely capable soldier and spent much of his reign campaigning in far-flung provinces of the Empire. He married the wealthy and beautiful Syrian Julia Donna who had a “royal horoscope” (i.e., she was destined to be a queen). She was known for her great intellect and influenced her husband and later her son the Emperor Caracalla in matters of state. She travelled with her husband on his frequent military campaigns and was awarded the title Mater Castrorum (“mother of the camps’) for sharing in the hardships. She attracted men of culture and learning to her brilliant Imperial court in Rome. Unfortunately she was unsuccessful in overcoming the hostility between her two sons, Caracalla and Geta.


In 208 A.D. the entire family went to Britain to deal with unrest following a great invasion by barbarians of the North. Severus repaired Hadrian’s Wall and launched a campaign into Caledonia without much success. Elderly and stressed by the rigours of the campaign, he died at York in 211.


His elder son Caracalla ruled with extravagance and cruelty, marked by the treacherous murder of his younger brother Geta in their mother’s arms. His one notable action was the granting to all free inhabitants of the Empire the name and privileges of Roman citizens.


* The history of a family in 12 coins:

(Pat Zabel had an interesting approach to collecting the Severans--as a family.)

A fairly youthful Severus, and a beautiful young Julia Domna. Three portraits of Caracalla, and four of Geta, each portrayed as a boy, a youth, and a bearded man. Three different portraits of the ill-fated Plautilla, married to Caracalla at age 14, and eventually banished and put to death on his orders. All photographs and full descriptions are online.


Cf. Important related Roman provincial Severan family issues (lots 69-79), particularly two related coins: Choice billon tetradrachms of Caracalla (Lot 79) and of Macrinus (Lot 80), prefect of the Praetorian Guards under Caracalla and party to his murder. (An interesting footnote into the lives of the classics: Mary Beard, a former professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and author of many books on the era, wrote in the July 3, 2023 New Yorker, “Caracalla was knifed while relieving himself on a military campaign in the East in 217 C.E.” She also recounts how the historian Herodian describes the funeral of Septimius Severus in 211 C.E. in Rome. Though he died in York in northern England and was cremated there, his ashes were brought back to Rome for the elaborate week-long funeral featuring a waxwork of the dead emperor.) (MD).

The Zabel Collection.

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Welcome to E-Auction 47

“Ending” is a key aspect of this summer’s end catalog. Over the past few auctions we have offered two major collections, a handful of smaller consignments, and have been dispersing a large collection of United States coins. Now we are at the end point for our work with much of this and we have come to the final pieces from the groups. For most collectors, acquisition is driven by the pieces themselves—denominations, dates, types, condition.


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