Numismatists often aspire to complete full sets, there is solace and a sense of accomplishment when finally acquiring the final coin to complete a set. One of the most sought-after and famous sets a coin collector can hope to acquire is the Twelve Caesars of Rome, these coins are just as they are described, they are all the first Twelve Caesars of Rome and are listed as follows: This collection is inspired by a series of biographies written in 120AD by the emperor Hadrian’s secretary Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, they describe the history of the first 12 Roman emperors and their influence on what would become one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. Roman influence continues to ripple into the modern day, many cultural changes enacted then are still observable today and are all around us, from the designs of famous statues and architecture to language to even our very alphabet – the influence of this once great empire is all around us. One would be hard-pressed to find someone alive today (more than 2000 years later) who is not familiar with some of these famous people, like Julius Caesar or Nero. Even with their coinage, the Romans were some of the first to produce coinage with an effigy on the obverse, a practice that continues to this day.
The gold version of these ancient coins is known as “the Aureus” and it is nearly pure gold in its composition, making them extremely fragile and easily worn. Finding any of the Twelve Caesars in good condition today can be difficult but a highly sought-after and rewarding achievement. The Aureus was the standard currency in Rome for about 400 years, remarkably a healthy amount of these coins still exists today, and they can often be seen at auctions fetching a quite handsome price. One can only imagine the cultures and people whose palms these coins crossed over the years and the stories they hold within their designs.
The Silver version of The Twelve Caesars is known as a “denarius”, they are the most common variety of the series, and of all ancient Roman coins they are still highly sought after. The Twelve Caesars was also produced in bronze but in some instances, the bronze versions can be worth as much or more than the gold counterpart or do not exist at all, Julius Caesar & Otho did not strike a bronze portrait coin for instance. The silver versions of the Twelve Caesars are by far the most common and the most available to collectors in high quality, silver, being a slightly less dense metal rather than gold means these coins have often held up relatively well over the years.
The striking of ancient coins was often done by hand meaning they are often off-centre strikes. Making coins that are well-struck and centred the most valuable and sought after. Dating these coins is often quite difficult as the scale that we use today was not used when these coins were produced so most often ancient coins like these have a range of dates they could have been produced based on the emperor on the Obverse of the coin or the historical event portrayed on the reverse. There are many combinations of the Twelve Caesars, the most affordable do not feature an effigy of the emperor from the time they were produced and of course, the most sought-after do feature the effigy of the ruler.
To obtain coins like this in Australia is no easy feat, and is something that many collectors aspire to, being a relatively new nation with quite a small population relative to our counterparts around the world. For these coins to make it onto these shores requires a lot of know-how and hard work. We are very fortunate at KJC to be able to offer such coins to the Australian market.