Coin, Postumus, Sestertius
260-269 - Cologne - F(12-15) - Billon - RIC:169
- Denomination: Sestertius
- Year: 260-269
- Mint name: Cologne
- Composition: Billon
- Diameter: 30.3
- Main character: Postumus
- Emperor of the Gauls / Roman usurper: AD 260–269
- Period: The Thirty Tyrants
Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus’ date of birth is unknown to us and his origins remain a mystery (probably Gaul). Governor of a province in Gaul, he helped the emperor Gallienus to repel Frankish attacks on the borders of the empire. Galvanized by his success, his troops proclaimed him emperor in 260.
However, unlike others before and after him, instead of claiming the entire Roman Empire, he was content to create the Gallic Empire and establish its capital at Cologne. And the Roman Empire was sufficiently unstable so that in the absence of recognizing a certain legitimacy to him, Gallienus granted him a certain peace. While the army made him emperor, it was also the army that assassinated him in 269 following a sedition when he tried to dissuade his troops from looting the city of Mainz.
Economy and currency
Although his reign was partial and its legitimacy altogether relative, Postumus proved relatively active where money was concerned. The emperor of the Gauls was quite Roman in spirit, and so was his currency. Having at his disposal silver mines in Spain and his territory containing two large mints at Cologne and Trier, he issued aurei and Constantinian coins of superior quality to those struck by Rome. This allowed him to curb, for a time at least, the rampant inflation. On the other hand, his double sestertius in bronze was a failure, proving not heavy enough compared to the “simple” sestertius.
Picture: Engraving from the book "Portraits of Roman Emperors" by Giovanni Battista de'Cavalieri (1592)