'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. 117
This is a sestertius of Faustina the Elder, a large brass coin depicting Faustina the Younger, who was the daughter of Faustina the Elder and Antoinus Pius, Roman Emperor from 138-161 AD.
The brass sestertius valued a quarter of a denarius. It typically weighs in the region of 25 to 28 grammes, is around 32-34 mm in diameter and ca. 4mm thick. The denarius was a small silver coin and the principal silver coin issued in the ancient Roman currency system from the late 3rd century BC until the early 3rd century AD.
The use of the portrait is the most persistent and usually the most striking feature of coins of the Roman Empire. Particularly during the first three centuries of the Empire's existence (27 BC-AD 284) images of historically recorded (and some unrecorded) people appear on the majority of coins.
Roman coins acted as a vehicle for the quick and wide-reaching spread of propagandic images of Imperial power, at the centre of which was the embodiment of Rome and all that its Empire stood for, the Emperor himself. Roman coins survive in very large numbers and are frequently found right across Europe, reaching the furthest corners of the Empire.