Gallienus. A.D. 253-268. AV medallion of 4 aurei (13.89 g). Rome, ca. A.D. 262-263. IMP GALLIENVS AV-G, bust left, wearing crested healmet and bearing spear over right shoulder, round shield over left / FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing facing, head left, holding ensign in each hand. RIC 10, second specimen = Gnecchi p. 6, 6 second specimen = Jameson 254 (this coin); Göbl, MIR 36, 532 (these dies); Cohen 230. Of the highest rarity, only three specimens known. A very attractive and unusual portrait of fine style. A few minor marks, otherwise extremely fine.
Ex NAC 24 (5 December 2002), 194. Realized CHF 68,000 on an estimate of CHF 55,000. Ex Hirsch 24, Consul Weber Collection, 1909, 2281; Tkalec-Rauch 3, 1987, 410; Sotheby's 5.7.1995, 158 and NAC 10, 1997, 679. From the Jameson Collection.
Gold medallions were struck on a variety of occasions, notably accessions, marriages, promotions, victories and milestones. In this case the 10th anniversary of Gallienus' rule, his decennalia, is the occasion. The previous five years had not been pleasant: in 258 the Alemanni invaded Italy and his eldest son Valerian II had died; in 260 his father Valerian was captured by the Sasanians, his youngest son Saloninus was killed in the successionist rebellion of Postumus, and revolts were sparked by Regalianus and Macrianus; and in 262 Aureolus staged his first revolt. Despite all of this, Gallienus brought a measure of consistency the empire had not known in recent memory. During in the eighteen years prior to the accession of Gallienus there had been eight legitimate regimes - meaning the average emperor of the era reigned slightly more than two years. In this day and age the achievement of a decennalia was truly remarkable, and was an event that Gallienus - an emperor who never shied away from ceremonies - returned to Rome to celebrate. Among all of the coins and medallions struck for distribution at the ceremony, this four-aureus piece was among the more impressive. It is entirely militant in character: the emperor is shown with helmet, armour and spear, and the reverse calls for harmony in the army. Furthermore, it might have raised a few eyebrows, as according to Toynbee (Roman Medallions, p. 155) it is the first medallion with a helmeted bust type. In the succeeding decades and centuries helmeted busts became commonplace - even standard - on coins and medals, but when this piece was struck it was truly a novelty.