Obverse: IMP CM CL TACITVS AVG; Radiate, Draped, and Cuirassed Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: CLEMENTIA TEMP; Jupiter, Standing on the Right, Holding a Sceptre, Presenting a Globe to Tacitus, Standing on the Left, Holding a Spear
Marcus Claudius Tacitus, who claimed to be related to the great historian of the same name, was an old man by the time he became emperor of Rome. He was a well-respected scholar who served as a Consul and Senator before rising to the throne. After the murder of Emperor Aurelian, the Senate was asked to select a new emperor. After lengthy negotiations, the Senate selected Tacitus who humbly refused due to his age. However, after much pleading, he finally acquiesced. As emperor, he appointed his half-brother Florianus as Praetorian Prefect and named another kinsman, Maximinus, as governor of Syria. In 276 A.D., he marched the Roman army into Cilicia, where Florianus led the troops to victory against the Gothic invaders. Soon afterwards, Tacitus succumbed to his old age and Florianus ascended the throne.
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 an emperor’s brief reign passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.