Heritage offered a fascinating group of flashy (and very old) gold
coins to kick off its World and Ancient Coins Platinum Night sale Aug.
3, part of its American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money
auctions: The Golden Gate Collection of Roman Gold Aurei. The group of
40 coins covers a century-long span during the peak of the Roman
Imperial period from A.D. 60 to 160, “a time when the Roman Empire
reached its greatest territorial [extent], economic influence, and
artistic influence, all reflected in its coinage.” Heritage suspects
that the group, acquired by the consignor’s father in 1981, was likely
unearthed as a single find in Israel in the late 1970s, though more
specific information on the find location is elusive.
Steve rarely writes about the world coins, so this group of coins
must be a real treat if he decided to cover it. Here's the first of
these Roman gold coins:
Hadrian (A.D. 117 to 138) gold aureus, Choice AU, NGC Star, Fine Style
The most expensive coin in the group was a gold aureus of Hadrian
(A.D. 117 to 138) graded Choice About Uncirculated with 5/5 surfaces
and 5/5 strike, with both a Star and Fine Style notation from
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The reverse shows the river god Nilus
reclining, half draped, relaxing with one arm supporting his weight on
a sphinx and the other holding a cornucopia (as one does).
Connect with Coin World:
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Follow us on Twitter
A hippopotamus walks right with his head raised and mouth open and
below a crocodile advances amid waves.
The small gold piece was struck A.D. 134 to 138 and is part of
Hadrian’s famed “Travel Series” where he celebrated his travels
including an extended visit to Egypt in 130 to 131. The reverse
variety is possibly a unique variant, which Heritage notes is not
recorded in the standard references. The cameo-like reverse —
uninterrupted by legends and “surrounded by the fauna of Egypt,
rendered in the highest artistry of the age” — along with the bold
portrait on the obverse make this an extraordinary survivor of this
famed emperor who valued beauty.