These types are combined only on aurei struck at Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza in Spain), suggesting that this was probably a trial strike in silver.
The Iberic city of Salduie (today called Zaragoza) had been populated by an ancient Iberian tribe named the Sedetani. Around 20-15 BC, in order to settle army veterans from the Cantabrian wars, the emperor founded in its place a Roman colony which was called Colonia Caesar Augusta in his honour, and it is certainly for the same soldiers that this coin was struck. The existence of this mint, as different from that of Colonia Patricia (Cordova), was defended by both L. Laffranchi and H. Mattingly, but contested by R. Prideaux – who considered that this young colony was too close to Tarraco (Tarragona). Prideaux also contested J.-B. Giard’s suggestion of another mint at Nemausus (Nîmes), even though a die had been found in the fountain of the city. He admitted that, when Agrippa arrived in Spain in 19 BC to fight the Cantabrians, there was an immediate need of coins to pay the legions, and then of money to purchase land to found colonies for retiring veterans – such as Colonia Caesar Augusta, but he assumed that established mints and their experienced workers would have been used, and he suggested the mint of Emerita Augusta (Mérida). In any case, whilst the obverse of this coin shows two laurel-trees, the reverse instead shows a wreath of oak-leaves, around the legend OB CIVIS SERVATOS – which refers to an award (for saving the life of a fellow Roman) that had been bestowed upon him by the Roman senate after he obtained in 20 BC from Phraates IV the liberation of thousands of Roman citizens that had been made prisoners in Parthia (it was a great success for Octavian, notably because he also obtained the standards which Crassus had lost in the battle of Carrhae – standards, which figure on the ‘Augustus of Prima Porta’ statue and which were stored in the Temple of Mars Ultor). This title was undoubtedly precious to Augustus’s eyes, as he chose the legend CAESAR COS VII CIVIBVS SERVATEIS – AVGVSTVS for what seems to be his first emission in gold (ref. Calicó 173). In the words of Cassius Dio, “Octavian had even before received many honours when the questions of declining the sovereignty and of allotting the provinces were being discussed. At that time, the privilege of placing the laurel trees in front of the royal residence, and of hanging the wreath of oak leaves [corona civica] above them, was voted in his honour to recognize in perpetuity his status as victor over his enemies and the savior of the citizens”. Recipients of the corona civica were entitled to various honours, one of which was having spectators rise as they entered a public theatre. The laurel branches were a sign of martial victory, that invoked his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium.
Two laurel trees
CAESAR AVGVSTVS in two lines
Legend within oak wreath
OB CIVIS SERVATOS in three lines
A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors.