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Roman Gold Coins
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Roman Gold Coins

Between 211 and 202 BCE, the Romans defeated Carthage in the Second Punic War, took over the gold mining region of Spain, and minted their first gold coins.

But it wasn't until Caesar returned from his victories in the Gallic wars with enough gold to issue 200 coins to each of his soldiers, and pay off the Roman Debt, that the aureus came into wide circulation.

Originally, at about 8 grams, the aureus was comparable to the stater in weight; and one aureus was a month's pay for a legionaire.

Coinage also served as the Empire's newspaper, as each issue served notice as to who was in charge, what they looked like, their military accomplishments, conquests, public building projects, and religious honors.

As the Empire expanded, Rome was able to acquire gold from West Africa, Macedon, the Bosporus region and the Zagrean Mountains. At the same time, Rome was able to export a stable monetary system as well as a network of relatively safe highways and shipping routes that promoted an era of prosperous world trade.

By the time of Constantine, after many reforms and debasments, the areus weighed slightly more than half its original weight and was replaced with the Solidus at about 4.5 grams. The solidus (fine gold) retained it's status as the world's trade coin for the next 500 years.

After 2000 years, Julius Caesar is still the most famous human ever to have lived. His very name has come to mean "king" in various languages. He hailed from a patrician family that was relatively poor and dwelled on the fringes of Roman politics. In spite of this he was able to outmaneuver opponents such as Cato and Cicero to attain his Consulship. It should be noted he went deep into debt to do so, and had he lost he would surely have been banished or killed by his enemies.

After his consulship he attained a Pro-Consulship in Gaul. Once there, his military achievements are legendary - thanks in no small part to his literary acheivements. He was also the first Roman to communicate offically through the use of letters within Rome, as well as the first consul to have scribes officially record and publish every speech he gave at the senate. His written accounts of the Gallic wars rank amongst the best selling books of all time. Romans, at the time, awaited breathlessly his regular missives of triumph from Gaul - and endlessly debated his methods which were considered harsh even by Roman standards.

Caesar was also the first Roman to put his portrait on a coin. Octavian struck many Caesar portrait coins during the Roman Civil Wars emphasizing his lineage to his adoptive Father. But the vast majority of Caesar portraits - and all Roman portrats - portray hastily engraved cartoonish figures.

Roman portrait coins exist in vast numbers. But true works of art by artists of great merit are indeed extremely rare - and often found at the povincial Greek mints of Antioch and Cappadocia where the artistic workshops were hundreds of years old.

Here below is a selection of truely extraordinary Roman portraits.

The Caesarians. Julius Caesar. 43 BCE.

AR Denarius L. Flaminius Chilo and Julius Caesar, 43 BC. Denarius Silver, 19mm, (3.60 g ), Rome. Laureate head of Julius Caesar to right. Rev. L.FLAMINIVS IIII.VIR Goddess, Venus or Pax, standing to left, holding caduceus in her right hand and long scepter in her left. Babelon (Flaminia) 2, (Julia) 44. Crawford 485/1. CRI 113. Sydenham 1089.

Dramatic Pedigreed Masterpiece of Roman portraiture in high relief. Beautifully toned with sound metal on a very broad flan. Some very minor striking flatness on the wreath. Struck in Rome probably in August 43 after Octavian had regained the city. The very prominent and detailed laurel wreath he wears (mixed with leaves and laurel berries) hints at the Senate’s forthcoming proclamation of Caesar as a god, which took place on 1 January 42. This enabled Octavian to call himself "Divi Filius:" Son of God.

From the Stoecklin Collection, (noted on the holder) bought from Hess AG in Luzern.

NGC graded AU ★ Strk 4/5, surf 4/5
fine style noted
..................$28,000

The Caesarians. Divus Julius Caesar. 40 BCE.

AR Denarius (19mm, 3.58 g, 12h). Rome mint; Q. Voconius Vitulus, moneyer. Wreathed head of Caesar right / Bull-calf walking left. Crawford 526/4; CRI 331; Sydenham 1133; RSC 45.

A very rare portrait of wonderful realistic style by an artist of great talent. Amongst the finest style Caesar portraits, perfectly centered on a broad flan and with a beautiful tone over sound metal.. The moneyer Vitulus was an ally of Octavian, and this coin was struck just after Octavian had taken control of Rome and the Western provinces.

Truly a masterpiece of Roman Portraiture

NGC Graded CH XF ★ Stk 5/5 Srf 4/5 Fine Style noted..................$32,500

The Caesarians. Julius Caesar.

49-44 BC. Denarius (18 mm, 3.97 g, ), mint moving with Caesar in Gallia Narbonensis or Hispania Citerior, 49-48. CAESAR Elephant trampling serpent to right. Rev. Priestly implements: culullus, aspergillum, ax with wolf's head at the top and apex. Babelon (Julia) 9. Cohen 49. Crawford 443/1. RBW 1557. Sydenham 1006. Woytek, Arma et Nummi, p. 119ff

Stunning multi-hued example, with violets, cobalt blue and red-orange tones.

NGC graded CH AU ★ strk 5/5 surf 4/5
.........................................$9500

Octavian, as Sole Imperator (32-27 BC).

AR denarius (21mm, 3.84 gm, 4h). Italian mint (Brundisium or Rome?), ca. 32 BC. Bare head of Octavian right; dotted border / CAESAR-DIVI•F, Pax standing facing, head left, olive branch upward in right hand, cornucopia in left; dotted border. RIC I 252.

A rare combination of an historically important coin that marks Octavian as Sole Imperator: along with an unusually beautiful portrait, on a well struck, toned and perfectly centered flan of excellent metal.

NGC AU ★ 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style noted.
$14,000

8
Tiberius, with Drusus Caesar (14-37).

CAPPADOCIA. Caesarea (as Eusebeia). AR Drachm 3.55 g. Obv: TI CAES AVG P M TR P XXXIV Laureate head of Tiberius right.
Rev: DRVSVS CAES TI AVG F COS II TR P IT. Bare head of Drusus left.

RPC 3621 (rv. legend); RIC 84 (same).

Two of the finest portraits on coinage of two of Rome's finest generals: Tiberius and his brother Drusus (father of Claudius). Unrivaled engraving by some Cappodocian Artist of great talent. Very rare dies. And the only truly fine style silver coin of Tiberius

NGC Graded AU strk 4/5 surf 2/5, brushed, fine style noted.....$4500

Claudius, 41-54.

Ephesus; Cistophorus (Silver, 28 mm, 11.29 g,) circa 41-42. TI•CLAVD CAES•AVG Bare head of Claudius to left. Rev. DIAN - EPHE Tetrastyle temple on podium of four steps, enclosing cult statue of Diana of Ephesus with polos on head and fillets hanging from wrists; pediment decorated with two figures flanking large disk set on central table, and two tables and recumbant figures in angles. MC 229. Cohen 30. RIC 118. RPC I 2222.

A magnificent portrait most skillfully brushed to yield a bold prooflike relief on gleaming fields. Stunning.

NGC Graded AU strike 5/5, surf 2/5, brushed,, fine style noted.....$8750

Nero. AD 54-68.

CAPPADOCIA, Caesarea-Eusebia. Nero, with Divus Claudius. AD 54-68. AR Didrachm (23mm, 7.52 g,). Struck circa AD 63-65. Laureate head of Nero right / Laureate head of Claudius right. RPC I 3647 corr. (rev. legend); RIC I 620 corr. (obv. legend); Sydenham, Caesarea 68

Extremely rare type with perhaps unique dies of the most extraordinary style, on superb metal. Quite simply amongst the finest Roman portraits extant. Judging by the bust that so perfectly captures Nero's disturbing blend of cruelty, petulance and self-satisfaction, the artist who engraved the dies may well have known the emperor, as he frequented Greek Arts festivals as both a self-styled musician and actor, and spent his time carousing with local artists of note.

On the reverse, the artist has Deified Claudius bearing an expression of shock and dismay presumably at his nephew's murderous behavior.

NGC CH AU ★ strk 5/5, sur 4/5, fine style noted...........................$30,000.

Vitellius, 69.

Denar, Lugdunum (Lyon).(3.43 g) VITELLIVS IMP GERMAN Head of Vittelius rt . Rev. FIDES, EXERCITVVM (VM ligiert), clasped hands Perlkreis. 6h. RIC I, p. 270,53; C. 31; BMCRE I, p. 391,114; Hunter I, p. 183,43. .

A sensitive realistic portrait of Vitellius in the Finest Style for this Emperor. Most of his coinage is hastily struck and cartoonishly engraved. In exceptional conditon for this difficult issue. With a a beautiful dark irridescent tone.

Peus, Auktion 366, 25.10.2000, Lot 1321.

NGC AU strk 5/5 surf 3/5.......$6500

Titus. As Caesar, AD 69-79

Ephesus mint, Denarius 71, AR 3.47 g. IMPERA[TOR T CAES]AR AVGVSTI F Bare-headed bust r. Rev. PACI – AVGVSTAE Victory advancing r., holding wreath and palm branch; in lower r. field, EPHE ligate. C 124. BMC p. 98 note. RIC Vespasian 1441. CBN Vespasian 360. RPC 838.

An extremely rare variety, of a very rare coin celebrating Titus' victory over Judaea. Only very few specimens known. A spectacular portrait of a young Titus in FDC quality; beautifully toned with prooflike fields.

Titus was considered extremely handsome and charismatic with a powerful and seductive personality. This is one of the few coins where this is evident.

NGC Graded MS strk 4/5 surf 5/5, fine style noted...................... $7500

Titus. As Caesar, AD 69-79

Denarius 79 after 1st July, AR 3.22 g. IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M Laureate head with slight beard r. Rev. TR P VIIII IMP XV – COS VII P P Trophy; below, captive kneeling r. C 295. BMC 31. RIC 49. CBN 28.

A wonderful Fine Style starred coin with prooflike surfaces. Rare in this condition./

Dated to the First week of Titus reign, this coin was important to Titus as it marked his elevation to Emperor and commemorated his victory in Judaea. An artist of talent was chosen to engrave this important issue.

NGC CH AU ★ Strk 5/5 surf 4/5 ...........................................$7500

Nerva, 96-98.

SYRIA, Seleucis and Pieria. Antioch. Tetradrachm 28 mm, 15.13 g,
'New Holy Year' 1 = 96/7. AYT•NEPOYAΣ KAIΣ•ΣEB Laureate head of Nerva to right, wearing aegis on his left shoulder. Rev. ETOYΣ• NEOY•IEPOY•A Eagle with spread wings standing right on thunderbolt; before, palm frond. McAlee 419. RPC III 3476. Prieur 149.

From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, privately acquired from Bank Leu on 26 August 1975

Most probably the finest style portrait of Nerva in existence. Exceptionally Rare die. Beautifuly toned.

NGC CH XF 5/5 4/5 fine style noted.
$12,000

 

 

 

 

 

 


For info, comments, purchase requests contact: Jeff Kahn at Jkahn21@nyc.rr.com
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