Obverse: DIVVS ANTONINVS; Bare Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: CONSECRATIO; Tiered Funeral Pyre Surmounted by Antoninus in Quadriga
Antoninus Pius is regarded as one of the "Five Good Emperors" in Roman history. He was born in 86 AD. Around 133-136, he served in Asia as proconsul, and there he earned the respect of Emperor Hadrian. After Hadrian's return from the Jewish war, Antoninus was made a member of his council not only on grounds of friendships and family connection, but also because of his experience as a jurist and administrator. After the sudden death of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Antoninus was officially adopted by Hadrian on February 25, 138 as successor to the throne. After administering the imperial offices, Hadrian died and Antoninus became emperor. Antoninus married Faustina and they had four children: two sons and two daughters. However, only one daughter was alive at the time of his adoption by Hadrian. Later, he adopted Marcus Aurelius, who was to be the successor to his throne. In 139, he gave to Marcus the name of Caesar and made him consul designate. In 146, Aurelius was recognized as Antoninus's colleague in rule, and the hopes of Rome and the fortunes of the dynasty rested upon him. Antoninus managed to govern the empire capably and yet with such a gentle hand that he earned the respect, acclaim, and love of his subjects.
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 coin, a commemorative issue minted shortly after his death, is a memorial to an ancient emperor passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.