2014-NIUE-AUGUSTUS-FEATURE

Of all the great and powerful figures in history, few deserve a place at the very top more than Imperator Gaius Julius Divi Filius Caesar Octavianus Augustus, more commonly known as Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. Born on 23 September 63 BC, he was the founder of the Roman Empire and ruled from 27 BC, when the Roman Senate voted him new titles, to his death on 19 August 14 AD at the ripe old age of 75, some say helped along by his wife, Livia.

It’s pretty disapponting that a man of such stature, celebrating such a milestone, has not been commemorated more on coins. When you consider the trivial events that often recieve numismatic recognition, it’s sad when a true giant of world history gets comparatively little. Even worse, this particular two-kilogram behemoth has a mintage of just fifty pieces, massively limiting it’s audience. How about another mint stepping up to the plate? A series by the Monnaie de Paris in the style of the Clovis coins would be terrific, so let’s see a nice one and put me down for a 5 oz silver version…

The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). Despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire’s frontiers and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession, the Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia, expanded possessions in Africa, expanded into Germania, and completed the conquest of Hispania.

Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states, and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the city during his reign.

2014 NIUE AUGUSTUS CLOSEUP

The coin obverse features the Blacas Cameo, and features the very same 12 gemstones: diamonds, ornyx, emerald, garnet, topaz. A great looking acrylic display case shows off the coin, and it’s all supplied in a nice quality box. Each coin is individually numbered. Personally, I think the design is underwhelming for a unique piece of such rarity and carrying a circa € 5,000 pricetag, but as with all things, taste is an individual quality and a friend of mine loves it.

The Blacas Cameo is an unusually large Ancient Roman cameo, 12.8 cm (5.0 in) high, carved from a piece of sardonyx with four alternating layers of white and brown. It shows the profile head of the Roman emperor Augustus and probably dates from shortly after his death in AD 14, perhaps from AD 20-50. It has been in the British Museum since 1867, when the museum acquired the famous collection of antiquities that Louis, Duke of Blacas had inherited from his father, also including the Esquiline Treasure. The inlaid headband is thought to be a later medieval addition, not Roman.

It is one of a group of spectacular imperial engraved gems, sometimes called “State Cameos”, that presumably originated in the inner court circle of Augustus, as they show him with divine attributes that were still politically sensitive, and in some cases have sexual aspects that would not have been exposed to a wider audience. These include the Gemma Augustea in Vienna (which also has the Gemma Claudia showing the Emperor Claudius and his brother with their wives) and the Great Cameo of France in Paris.

Issued as legal tender under the authority of the British Virgin Islands, the Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the 2014 year-date are shown on the obverse of each coin.

The coin should be available from the middle of April and as noted above, is in the €4,500-5,000 range.

SPECIFICATION

Denomination Metal Weight, g Diameter, mm Quality Box – COA Mintage, pcs
200 DOLLARS (BVI) 0.999 silver 2,000 140.0 PROOF INLAID Y – Y 50