- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Medieval and Renaissance, room 64, case SS3
On the front of this coin is the head of Trajan. On the reverse is a figure representing Rome. Ancient Roman coins were popular with Renaissance collectors. By owning them and copying aspects of them in their own commissions, patrons could acquire some of the glory of the classical world.
Brass coin. On the obverse is the head of Trajan. On the reverse is shown a figure representing Rome, standing wearing a helmet, holding a spear in his left hand and a statue of Victory in his right.
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
Obv: IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P
(IMP[ERATORI] CAES[ARI] NERVAE TRAIANO AUG[USTO] GER[MANICO] DAC[ICO] P[ONTIFICI] M[AXIMO] TR[IBUNICIAE] P[OTESTATIS] CO[NSULO] V [QUINTO] P[ATER] P[ATRIAE]) To the Emperor Caesar Nerva Trajan Augustus Germanicus [Conqueror of the Germans] Dacicus [Conqueror of the Dacians], High Priest, Holder of Tribunician Power, in his fifth year as Consul, Father of the Country.
Rev: S.P.Q.R. OPTIMO PRINCIPI (around); S C (in field).
(S[ENATUS] P[OPULUS] Q[UE] R[OMANUS] OPTIMO PRINCIPI (around) S[ENATUS] C[ONSULTO or CENSUIT]) The Roman Senate and people to the best leader. By decree of the Senate.
Diameter: 3.4 cm, Depth: 0.4 cm
Historical context note
The use of the portrait is the most persistent and usually the most striking feature of coins of the Roman Empire.The tradition is still commonly seen today. Particularly during the first three centuries of the Empire's existence (27 BC-AD 284) images were made of historically recorded (and some unrecorded) people. Trajan was one the greatest of the Roman emperors.He waged successful wars against the Germans and the Parthians, and was rewarded with the title Optimus, 'the Best'. His memory was greatly honoured, and he was given the unusual right of burial within the city limits of Rome. His ashes were placed in the base of his great column, held in an urn made of gold. Theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, discussed Trajan as an example of a virtuous pagan. In the Divine Comedy, Dante, following this legend, sees the spirit of Trajan in the Heaven of Jupiter with other historical and mythological persons noted for their justice. Dio Cassius reported that "he was devoted to boys and to wine".
Coin (sestertius), brass, of Trajan, head of Trajan / Roma, Roman, ca. 104-110 AD
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 116
Labels and date
THREE COINS of Trajan
Ancient Roman coins were very popular with Renaissance collectors. By owning them, and copying aspects of them in their own commissions, patrons could acquire some of the glory of the classical world.
Gold (left) and brass (centre and right)
Museum nos. A.680, 707, 708-1910 
Coins & Medals