'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. 112
This is an ancient Roman coin, an aureus of Sabina, depicting Empress Sabina (d. 137 AD), who was the wife of Emperor Hadrian.
The aureus was an ancient Roman gold coin, issued from around the 1st century BC up to the 4th century AD. One aureus was worth 25 silver deinarii. 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.
The coins bequeathed to the V&A by George Salting include examples of silver coins from Syracuse of the 4th century BC, a set of gold imperial coins of Rome, and some fine specimens of bronze denarii of the Roman Empire.