Postumus, Romano-Gallic Emperor, 260-269. Aureus (Gold, 20 mm, 5.66 g, 1 h), Cologne, early 262. IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Postumus to right. Rev. HERC DEVSONIENSI Hercules standing right, resting his right hand on hip and leaning left on club set on rock; lion skin draped over club. Calicó -. Cohen -. Elmer 304. RIC -. Schulte -, cf. 37a (unlisted die combination of O24/R25). Sondermann -. Extremely rare and among the best of very few examples known. An excellent example of this important issue, lustrous and with a charming portrait of splendid style. Light marks on the highest points and with very light traces of mounting, otherwise, extremely fine.
The gold coinage of the 'Gallic Empire' has long been credited as being among the most impressive and beautiful in the whole imperial series. This coin is no exception: the remarkably artistic portrait of Postumus is paralleled by the masterful rendering of Hercules on the reverse. While Postumus' general adoration of Hercules fits well into a longer historical trend of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, his prominent worship of Hercules Deusoniensis and Hercules Magusanus early in his reign sets him apart from all other emperors of the era. The ostentatious support for these local cults of Hercules is undoubtedly connected to the circumstances of his usurpation. Postumus owed his rule to the Rhine legions: they were the backbone of his power and he was dependent on their continued support to secure the frontier against barbarian attacks and to fight the legitimate emperor Gallienus. Hercules had always been popular among Roman soldiers, but the local cults for Hercules Deusoniensis and Hercules Magusanus certainly reflect preferences by the Rhine Legions. While the latter is attested in several inscriptions (see the previous lot), there has been a long debate over the origin of the former. Based upon a place called Deuso mentioned by Hieronymos (Chron. ab. Abr. 2389) in what was then Frankish controlled territory in the late 4th century, several localization attempts of the sanctuary have been made: some have suggested Cologne-Deutz or Duisburg, while more recent commentators favor Doesburg or Dissen in the Netherlands. Despite the lack of any other sources, the repeated representation of Hercules Deusoniensis in different forms on the early coinage of Postumus clearly indicates that he must have been of great importance to the new emperor and his relationship with his troops. It was only later in Postumus' reign that a broader and more traditional worship of Hercules was adopted, most prominently in the wonderful series of aurei showing the traditional twelve Labors, struck in 268.