Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 72

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Lot 4135

Clodius Macer, AD 68. Silver Denarius (3.1g). Struck at Carthage May-September AD 68 Usurper in Africa. L. CLODI MACRI. Draped bust of Victory right; at sides, S C. Reverse: Legionary eagle between two vexilla; in field below, above exergual line, LEG - III. RIC 17; Hewitt 26-27 (same dies); RSC 4a. Almost invisible marks under medium gray toning. Extremely rare. Only four examples were know to Hewitt, three of which were in museums. Choice Very Fine.

Coins of Clodius Macer are not only among the rarest of all Roman silver coins, they are also important historical documents which throw light on an otherwise obscure period of Roman history. Little is known about the early career of Lucius Clodius Macer, but by AD 68 he had been appointed by Nero as provincial governor of North Africa. By April of AD 68, Nero's corrupt regime was collapsing and the governors Vindex in Gaul and Galba in Spain were in open revolt. As chaos gripped the Empire, Macer threw in his lot with the rebels and threatened to cut off the African grain supply to Rome. Initially, he had declared his support for the Roman Senate, but following Nero's suicide, Macer abandoned his idealistic pose and began plotting to seize power himself. Galba, who had been proclaimed emperor by the Senate, attempted to win over Macer, but the latter refused to recognize the new ruler and instead struck new coins identifying himself as "pro-praetor of Africa." When Macer began raising two new legions, Galba issued a warrant for his arrest and execution, an order carried out by loyalist officers in Macer's army. His coinage was immediately recalled and melted down, accounting for its extreme rarity today.

Macer controlled the Legio III Augusta in Numidia and used it to take over Carthage, where this coin was presumably struck. The obverse type commemorates this 'Victory,' while the letters S C, "Senatus Consulto," were a nod to the authority of the Roman Senate, an inscription that had not been used on Roman silver coins since around 40 BC. The reverse type is modeled on the well-known legionary coinage of Marc Antony and suggests the coin was specifically struck to pay Macer's troops.
Estimated Value $30,000 - 35,000.
Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 62, lot 2024; Ex Classical Numismatic Group sale 72, 2006, lot 1404.


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