Carausius. Silver Denarius (3.98 g), Romano-British Emperor, AD 287-293. London, ca. AD 287. IMP I CARAVSIVS P F AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Carausius right. Reverse RENOVAT ROMANO, she-wolf standing right, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus; RSR (Rs retrograde). Cf. RIC 571; cf. Shiel 68; cf. RSC 82. Very Rare. Toned. Extremely Fine.
Carausius was the commander of the Roman fleet stationed in the English Channel who usurped power, gaining control over Britain and of part of Gaul. While the vast majority of his coin types were debased antoniniani as circulated in the official Empire, he also struck aurei and silver denarii of very high purity, the likes of which had not been seen for many years. The legends and types of his denarii, as is the case with the the coin offered here showing the she-wolf and twins motif combined with the legend RENOVAT ROMANO, evoked traditional Roman virtues.
This of course is highly interesting coming from a province at the edge of the Roman world, but it clearly espouses Carausius’ ideology that he was in fact restoring Rome and not simply another military opportunist as had beset the Roman Empire for the past half century. Of more novel interest is the abbreviation RSR in the exergue. This had always been assumed to be a mintmark, the precise meaning never satisfactorily resolved. However, it turns out that it is not actually a mintmark at all! Guy de la Bdoyre,”Carausius, RSR and I.N.P.C.D.A,” NC 1998, pp. 79-88, shows a Virgilian connection, the RSR being an abbreviation for Redeunt Saturnia regna, and INPCDA found on other Carausian coins the abbreviation for Iam nova progenies, clo Demittitur alto. These phrases come from the sixth and seventh lines of Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue on the Golden Age, and translate “now Virgin Justice returns, and Saturn’s reign: now a new race descends from the heavens above.” Any educated person in the Roman world would have recognized the abbreviation; thus it played perfectly into Carausius’s clearly-defined ideology of restoring the virtues of Rome.
Estimated Value $4,000 – 5,000 Ex Helios 4 (14 October 2009), 694; A. Lynn Collection; CNG 54 (14 June 2000), 1792
Thank you Ira & Larry Goldberg for auction text and image.
|Auction 62||2083 (« | »)||6. October 2011||30’000 CHF||60’000 CHF|
The S.C. Markoff Collection of Roman Coins
The Roman Empire
Carausius, 286 – 293
Denarius, Londinium circa 287-289, AR 4.94 g. IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG Laureate, draped and
cuirassed bust r. Rev. RENOVAT ROMANO She-wolf standing r., suckling Romulus and Remus; in
exergue, RSR. C 293. RIC 571. Shiel 68. Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, possibly the finest denarius of Carausius in existence. A very attractive portrait struck on an unusually good metal with a delightful old cabinet tone. Extremely fine Ex NFA sale XX, 1988, 459.