Roman silver denarius realizes $88,500 in Jan. 3 auction

Circa A.D. 68 coin leads bidding in Freeman & Sear sale
Published : 01/16/12
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A rare Roman Imperial coin from a short-lived reign during a civil war was the highlight of Freeman & Sear’s Manhattan auction No. 3, held Jan. 3 in New York City.

The silver denarius of L. Clodius Macer, struck at Carthage circa April to October A.D. 68, realized $88,500, including an 18 percent buyer’s fee, against an estimate of $60,000.

The coin is “extremely rare, apparently from an unpublished die pairing and one of only a handful of Clodius Macer portrait denarii known to exist,” according to Freeman & Sear. The abbreviation S C (Senatus Consulto) “in this case mistakenly inverted,” plus his depiction without a laurel crown, suggests he was revolting against Nero and not the Senate, according to the catalog.

The coin, in Nearly Extremely Fine condition and “toned,” led the firm’s auction, which was held in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention.

A total of 223 lots from 235 offered, or 94.9 percent (one lot was withdrawn before the sale), were sold in the sale, realizing a hammer price of $1,235,230, or $1,457,571 including an 18 percent buyer’s fee. The firm offered a discount to 15 percent for certain payment and bidding methods. Individual prices given here reflect the 18 percent fee.

A PDF catalog is posted for free viewing at the firm’s website,

Telephone Freeman & Sear at 310-450-9755, write the company at P.O. Box 641352, Los Angeles, CA 90064 or email the firm at

Some additional highlights:

Celtic, North-Central Gaul, the Parisii, late second to early first century B.C. gold stater, 7.29 grams, Sills Mint B, Class 1a, “perhaps the finest known specimen,” $64,900.

Greece, Sicily, Katane, circa 450 B.C. silver tetradrachm, 17.35 grams, “insignificant flan flaw on obverse, certainly among the finest known specimens,” Nearly Extremely Fine, $41,300.

Greece, island of Naxos, circa 430 B.C. silver tetradrachm, 16.81 grams, “minor porosity in isolated areas, otherwise nearly Extremely Fine,” $38,940.

Greece, Sicily, Syracuse, circa 490 to 485 B.C. silver tetradrachm, 17.14 grams, “dies by the ‘master of the Large Arethusa Heads,’ ” “deeply struck on a broad flan and attractive, lightly toned,” Good Very Fine, $38,350.

Greece, Seleucid Kingdom, Alexander I Balas, circa 150 B.C. silver “marriage” tetradrachm, Ptolemais, jugate busts of Cleopatra Thea as Tyche and Alexander I, “scarcely” 20 of these marriage tetradrachms are known to exist, all “struck from only three obverse dies, all exhibiting a freshness that would point to a very brief issue,” “a couple of light scratches, Very Fine plus,” $59,000.

Roman Imperial, Clodius Albinus as Caesar, circa A.D. 194/195 orichalcum sestertius, Rome Mint, 27.71 grams, “detailed strike, nearly perfect black patina, certainly one of the finest sestertii of Albinus,” Good EF, $64,900.

Roman Imperial, Maxentius, circa A.D. 307 to 309 silver argenteus, “light toning,” EF, $30,680.

Roman Imperial, Constantius II, circa A.D. 337 to 361 silver ingot of one Roman pound, 319 grams, shaped like a double ax-head with flaring blades, “the image of Constantius II softly struck at the top of his head, one corner chipped,” Good VF, $26,550.

Byzantine Empire, Constantine XI Palaeologus, circa 1448 to 1453 silver stavraton, Constantinople, 6.62 grams, “the last Byzantine emperor,” “some light encrustation, areas of striking weakness as is typical with this emergency coinage, otherwise Good Very Fine,” $26,550. ■

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