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Rare Roman Coins

Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other - so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa. Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.
SH87414. Silver denarius, RSC I Pompeia 3a (same ligatures), Crawford 511/4d, Sydenham 1348, BMCRR Sicily 20, Sear CRI 335b, SRCV I 1393, gVF, beautifully toned, edge cracks, legends not fully struck, weight 3.566 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse MAG•PIVS•IMP•ITER, pharos (lighthouse) of Messana, topped with stature of Neptune standing right holding trident and rudder, his left foot on a galley ram; quinquereme (war galley) sailing left in foreground below adorned with aquila on prow and scepter at the stern; reverse PRAEF ORAE•MARIT•ET•CLAS• S•C• (AEs and MAR ligate), the sea monster Skylla, her upper body a nude human female torso, lower body of two fish tails and three dog foreparts, attacking to left with a rudder wielded as a club in both hands raised overhead; ex Nomos Obolos 10, lot 349; rare; $2100.00 (€1785.00)
 


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Gaius Licinius Mucianus (named on this coin) was governor of Syria. When he failed to put down the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was sent to replace him. After the death of Galba, Mucianus and Vespasian both swore allegiance to Otho. Mucianus persuaded Vespasian to take up arms against Vitellius, who had seized the throne. They agreed Vespasian would settle affairs in the East, while Mucianus made would attack Vitellius. On his way to Rome, Mucianus defeated a Dacian invasion of Moesia. Mucianus reached Rome the day after Vitellius' death. Mucianus never wavered in his allegiance to Vespasian and was appointed consul for the third time in 72. As no mention is made of Mucianus during the reigns of Titus or Domitian, he probably died during the reign of Vespasian.
RP85562. Bronze AE 28, McAlee 319 (ex. rare, same dies), cf. RPC 4316 (not specifying obverse legend direction), aVF, nice portrait, dark patina with buff earthen highlighting, spots of light corrosion, obverse legend mostly weak or off flan, weight 11.757 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 15 Jan 69 - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse [IMP M OT]-HO - [CAE AVG] (counterclockwise from upper left), head laureate right, dot in field behind; reverse EΠI / MOYKIA/NOY AN/TIOXEΩ/N ET ZIP (legate Mucianus, of Antioch, year 117) in five lines within a linear circle in a laurel wreath; this variant with a counterclockwise obverse legend is extremely rare; ex Gemini auction XIII (6 Apr 2017), lot 158, ex Jyrki Muona Collection; $1810.00 (€1538.50)
 


Roman Civil War, Vitellius, c. 69 A.D.

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This coin is M71 in Butcher, K. & M. Pointing, The Metallurgy of Roman Silver Coinage: From the Reform of Nero to the Reform of Trajan (Cambridge, 2015). There is a tiny drill hole on the edge where silver was extracted for testing. This was an important coin in the study, with test results indicating 93.9% silver bullion and Gallic isotope ratios strongly suggesting similarity with other Vitellius coins from Gallia, not coins minted for Galba.
RS86684. Silver denarius, Butcher-Pointing M71 (this coin), RIC I Civil Wars 121, BMCRE I 65, RSC I Galba 363, BnF I 75, Martin 7, EF, toned, tight flan, light corrosion, test drill hole on edge, weight 3.127 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Southern Gaul(?) mint, c. 69 A.D.; obverse clasped hands, FIDES above, EXERCITVVM below; reverse clasped hands, FIDES above, PRAETORIANORVM curving along the edge below; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Helios, auction 4 (Munich, 14 Oct 2009), lot 270; ex Coll. A. Lynn collection; ex Classical Numismatic Group, auction 54 (14 June 2000), lot 1484; ex P. DeVicci collection; rare; $1800.00 (€1530.00)
 


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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In Feb 44 B.C. the senate named Julius Caesar dictator for life. Fearing that he wished to become king, on the 15th of Mar, 63 senators assassinated him with their knives. His assassination plunged the Roman Republic into 17 years of civil war, after which it would re-emerge as the Roman Empire.
SH82705. Silver denarius, Alföldi Caesar, type III, 115 (this coin); BMCRR Rome 4147 (also I); Crawford 480/3; RSC I 34; Sydenham 1056; Sear Imperators 100; RBW 1678 (H) , gVF, toned, banker’s mark on obverse, areas of flat strike, attractive deep old cabinet toning, with hints of iridescence around the devices, weight 3.607 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 30o, Rome mint, moneyer M. Mettius, Jan - Feb 44 B.C.; obverse CAESAR·IMP, wreathed head of Caesar right, cymbium (boat shaped cup used as a wine ladle) and lituus (augural wand) behind; reverse M METTIVS, Venus standing left, Victory in her extended right hand, long transverse scepter in left hand, resting left elbow on shield which rests on globe, I (control letter) in lower left field; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 23 (9 Jan 2016), lot 376; ex Andrew McCabe Collection; ex CNG e-auction 237 (21 July 2010), lot 344; ex Professor L Fontana Collection; rare; $1800.00 (€1530.00)
 


Maximus of Barcelona, Usurper in Hispania, 410 - 411 A.D.

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At the same time Honorius was clashing with the Visigothic King Alaric (who would sack Rome in 410), Picts invaded Britain, and Vandals, Alans and Suebi devastated Gaul. Honorius, in Ravenna, no longer even ruled the city of Rome; Visigoths had forced the Senate to appoint Priscus Attalus emperor. Out of desperation, the remnants of legions in the Britain elevated Constantine III and his son Constans II to the purple. Although Iberia was initially spared, in 409 Vandals and other barbarians laid waste to that land too. Constans II, who had been in Hispania, fled back to join his father in Gaul. Their general, Gerontius, remained in Spain, allied with the Vandals, and appointed Maximus as his own puppet emperor. Maximus was probably a senior staff officer, and may have also been a relative, possibly his son. Maximus was one of six men claiming to be Emperor in 410: Honorius (in Ravenna, the legitimate emperor of the West), Theodosius II (in Constantinople, the legitimate emperor of the East), Priscus Attalus (in Rome), Constantine III (in Arelatum), Constans II (in Vienne), and Maximus (in Barcino). Gerontius besieged, defeated and executed Constans II at Vienne. The general then besieged Constantine III at Arles, but the forces of Honorius joined the fight and defeated him. Gerontius was trapped and committed suicide. Maximus fled to his barbarian allies in Hispania who protected him until he was pardoned by Honorius. In 420, Maximus Tryannus rebelled in Hispania (it's uncertain that this was the same Maximus), but was quickly captured, taken to Ravenna, and executed by Honorius 422.
SL87405. Silver siliqua, RIC X 1601, RSC V 1b, Balaguer 1-37, King Fifth p. 291, Villaronga-Benages 4437, SRCV V 21081, NGC VG, strike 3/5, surface 2/5, clipped (4372590-001), weight 0.82 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 180o, Barcino (Barcelona, Spain) mint, 410 - 411 A.D.; obverse D N MAXIMVS P F AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTOR-IA AVGGG, Roma seated left on cuirass, Victory offering wreath, holding palm and standing on globe in Roma's right hand, inverted spear in her left hand, SMBA in exergue; ex Ira & Larry Goldberg auction 103 (20 Feb 2018), lot 2225; ex Edgar L. Owen; ex Gerhard Hirsch auction 284/285 (26 - 29 Sep 2012), lot 3076; very rare - only about 50 coins known of this emperor!; $1600.00 (€1360.00)
 


Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D.

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The wreath on the reverse is the corona civica, the oak wreath awarded to Roman citizens ex senatus consulto (by special decree of the Senate) for saving the life of another citizen by slaying an enemy in battle. It became a prerogative for Roman emperors to be awarded the Civic Crown, originating with Augustus, who was awarded it in 27 B.C. for saving the lives of citizens by ending the series of civil wars.
SH86121. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 37, BMCRE I 38, Cohen I 24, BnF II 50, Hunter I 15, SRCV I -, Choice VF, Tiber patina, centered and struck, attractive young portrait, some marks and corrosion, weight 26.709 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse S P Q R / P P / OB CIVES / SERVATOS in four lines within Corona Civica oak wreath; rare; $1560.00 (€1326.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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A decursio was a military exercise, by which Roman soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They sometimes consisted of a mock fight between two divisions. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. The decursio this coin probably refers Nero's participation in mock military maneuvers in the circus.
SH87193. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 397 (R2); Cohen I 84; Mac Dowall WCN 413; BnF II 82; BMCRE I -, SRCV I -, VF, excellent portrait, smoothing, weight 26.053 g, maximum diameter 35.8 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of bust; reverse Nero and officer companion on horseback prancing right, Nero holds a couched lance, his companion holds a vexillum, S - C flanking high across field, DECVRSIO in exergue; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 253, lot 499; rare; $1500.00 (€1275.00)
 


Trebonianus Gallus, June or July 251 - July or August 253 A.D., Alexandria Troas, Troas

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The representation of the decurions of Alexandria depicted on the reverse of this type is unique within the Roman provincial series. The decurions were members of municipal senates responsible for procuring funds for new public works, festivities and games, as well as for welfare networks. Their fiscal responsibilities also extended to the collecting of imperial taxes, for which they were expected to cover any shortfalls.
RP87204. Bronze AE 22, RPC IX 432 (12 spec.); Bellinger A409; SNG Çanakkale 376; BMC Troas p.27, 145; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, aVF, dark green patina, reverse slightly off center, tiny encrustations, some legend weak, edge cracks, weight 4.586 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, Jun/Jul 251 - Jul/Aug 253 A.D.; obverse IMP C VIBI TRIBO GALLVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse The curia decurionum of Alexandria in session: nine men wearing togas seated in a semicircle, two outer men seated on curule chairs, two in center holding short staffs, AVG above, two steps below, ALEXAND on upper step, decorative pattern on lower step, TROADA in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics, e-sale 40 (28 Oct 2017), lot 429; very rare; $1450.00 (€1232.50)
 


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Otho ruled for just a few months. The mint of Alexandria struck coins with his name, though the portrait bears little resemblance to those of the other mints. It is possible that Alexandria produced coins without having an image of the new emperor.
RP84745. Bronze hemidrachm, RPC I 5364 (3 spec.); Geissen 257; Dattari 336; BMC Alexandria 217; Milne 376; SNG BnF 710; Kampmann-Ganschow 18.13; Emmett 189 (R4); SNG Milan -, F, attractive brown tone, flan crack, light scratches, smoothing, weight 16.768 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 69 A.D.; obverse AYTOK MAPK OΘΩNOΣ KAIΣ ΣEB, laureate head right, beveled edge; reverse bust of Nilus right, wearing papyrus diadem, cornucopia behind right shoulder, date LA (year 1) before; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; extremely rare; $1050.00 (€892.50)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

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In 134, Rome retook Jerusalem, the capital of the Bar Kokhba revolt. The following year, the largely destroyed city was renamed Aelia Capitolina. The Jewish diaspora began when Hadrian barred Jews from the city and dispersed survivors of the massacre across the Empire. Legio VI Ferrata rebuilt the legionary fortress in Jerusalem and constructed a Roman temple at Golgotha. An altar to Jupiter was erected on the site of the Jerusalem Temple. In 136, the Jews were chased from Galilee and Roman Iudaea plus Galilee became Syria Palaestina, the first use of the name Palestine as a designation for Judea.
SH82767. Orichalcum dupondius (or as), RIC II 910 (R2), Cohen II 238, BMCRE II p. 497, ‡ (refs. Cohen); Hunter II - (p. lxvii), SRCV II -, aVF, near black patina, scratches, some porosity, weight 14.285 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 134 - 138 A.D.; obverse HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, laureate head right; reverse Hadrian, standing right on platform, Praetorian Prefect behind him, addressing officer (centurion?) who stands right and four soldiers, the officer and first two soldiers hold oblong shields, the first soldier holds a vexillum, the following two hold standards, the final soldier unclear, COH PRAETOR S C in exergue; only two sales of the type recorded on Coin Archives, the last in January 2013; very rare; $900.00 (€765.00)
 




  



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Roman Rarities