Augustus with Agrippa. 27 BC-AD 14. Gaul, Nemausus, c. 9/8-3 BC

Augustus with Agrippa. 27 BC-AD 14. Gaul, Nemausus, c. 9/8-3 BC


AE As or 27, 12.51g (27mm, 12h). Heads of Agrippa, wearing rostral crown and wreath, l. and Augustus, wearing oak wreath, r., back to back / Crocodile r. chained to palm branch with short fronds; wreath with long ties above.

Pedigree: From the WN Collection. Ex Collection of a Director (CNG 88, 14 September 2011, lot 675; Peus 290 (5 October 1976), lot 220

References: RIC I 158; RPC I 524; CRE Ashmolean 425

Grade:  Good VF, brown patina with a few areas of green, light adjustment marks. Attractive for issue  (re1041)

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The crocodile coinage of Nemausus has delighted collectors for years. Research has shown that the coinage can be grouped into three distinct time periods based on the addition or omission of a headdress of some sort on the bust of Augustus. This coin was struck during the period after the death of Augustus c. 9/8-3 BC or during the reign of Claudius. 

Nemausus was in the region of Gaul in modern day France (city of Nimes). Today, If one visits, there are still numerous references to this glorious coinage. The image of the crocodile chained to a post symbolized the subjugation of Egypt during the reign of Julius Caesar around 30 BC. The soldiers from this initiative were given plots of land to farm and quickly began to populate the city.  The coinage served to memorialize the relationship to their new home. While Caesar inspired the coinage, Augustus created a major mint in the town of Nemausus and literally put the city on the map. This coinage was struck in abundance and served a large portion of the western Roman empire.

The meaning of the palm on the reverse is a matter of debate. Long before the Romans, the Volcae tribe dominated the area starting around the 3rd century BC. Pre-dating the Augustan coinage, there was already palm imagery, thus it could symbolize the relationship to the previous inhabitants.The city enjoyed prosperity until the end of the 3rd century AD when it diminished in stature. The ruler Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161 AD) came from Nemausus. In 473 AD the city was taken from the Romans by the Visigoths.