Obverse: SEVERVS PIVS AVG; Laureate Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: VOTA SVSCEPTA XX; Severus, Veiled as a Priest, Standing to the Left, Sacrificing from a Patera over an Altar
Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus was born April 11, 145 A.D. in Leptis Magna, a Carthaginian city located in North Africa. Severus came from a distinguished local family; his cousins received suffect consulships in Rome under Antoninus Pius. Severus restored stability to the Roman Empire after the tumultuous reign of the emperor Commodus and the outbreaks of civil war that erupted in the wake of Commodus' murder. However, by giving greater pay and benefits to soldiers and annexing the troublesome lands of northern Mesopotamia into the Roman empire, Septimius Severus brought increasing financial and military burdens to Rome's government. Although his prudent administration allowed these burdens to be met during his eighteen years on the throne, his reign was not entirely sunny. Overall, his reign marks a critical stage in the development of the absolute despotism that characterized the later Roman Empire.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial to the Emperor Septimius Severus, passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.