Obverse: PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA; Draped Bust of the Empress Facing Right
Reverse: VENVS VICTRIX; Venus Standing to the Left, Holding an Apple and a Palm Frond, a Shield to the Right, Cupid to the Left at her Feet Holding a Helmet
Plautilla was the daughter of Plautian, a powerful and ambitious praetorian prefect under Emperor Septimius Severus. In 202 A. D., she wed to the Emperor’s son, Caracalla, in a marriage arranged by her father. Plautilla did not love Caracalla and he reciprocated by spurning his wife. At first, they barely tolerated each other; but later, they would not even be seen in each other's presence. In the meantime, Plautian was becoming more ambitious and careless about hiding it. He arrogantly had statues erected in his honor. He competed openly with Caracalla for power and influence. Caracalla came to loathe the obnoxious praetorian prefect, much like his daughter. In 205, Plautian was accused of a plot to murder Severus and Caracalla. Caracalla would have slain the hated praetorian prefect with his own hand, but his father forbade him to do so. Instead, Plautilla was exiled to the island of Lipari soon after. In 211, Septimius Severus died. With the passing of Severus, Caracalla became Emperor and any little protection Plautilla might have had against the hatred of her former husband disappeared. Soon after his ascension, an assassin to murdered Plautilla.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial to an empress passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.