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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Etruscus as Augustus

Triton XVII, Lot: 776. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $2750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Herennius Etruscus. AD 251. AR Antoninianus (22mm, 2.85 g, 1h). Rome mint. Special emission, AD 251. IMP C Q HER ETR MES DECIO AVG, radiate and draped bust right / PIETAS AVGG, Mercury standing left, holding purse in right hand, caduceus in left. RIC IV 151a (Decius); Pink IV, p. 25; Hunter –; Tulln Hoard –; RSC 13a. EF, overstruck on a denarius of Severus Alexander with reverse type P M TR P II COS P P, Salus seated left feeding serpent (RIC IV 32 or RIC IV 269). Very rare issue as Augustus.

The details of the reign of Trajan Decius are unclear, based primarily on accounts written much later. As such, the exact date of the accession of Herennius is unknown, but was probably in the period just prior to the fateful meeting with the Goths in July AD 251. Not only is the surviving quantity of Herennius' Augustus coinage very small, the evidence of a rushed manufacture is clear, as most examples are overstruck on prior Roman issues. Literary evidence notes that in the final battle between Kniva's Goths and the Romans, Herennius was the first of the two emperors killed, leading Decius to deliver an inspiring address to the troops in an attempt to allay their fears. If this account is correct, the traditional view that Decius was the first emperor to die in battle is incorrect – that unfortunate honor belongs to Herennius.