World Coins

Aureus in Lexington Collection marks founding of Roman Empire

A 32 to 29 B.C. gold aureus of Octavian (Augustus) marks the beginning of the Roman Empire, and was a sharp departure from coins issued in the late republic.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The following post is pulled from Coin World’s International page in the Aug. 11 issue.

Coin dealer Jonathan Kern, based in Lexington, Ky., has built a reputation as a dealer for more than four decades, but Kern’s own collection of ancient coins, dubbed the Lexington Collection, featured in Heritage Auctions’ Aug. 8 sale, is now attracting attention.

In the Aug. 8 auction, Heritage’s first-ever world and ancient coins Platinum Night auction, 46 lots, including 39 ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, are from Kern’s collection. That follows an April 10 Heritage auction that included 33 of Kern’s ancient coins.

Kern is “one of the most astute numismatists in the country,” said David Michaels, director of ancient coins for Heritage Auctions.

Kern remains an active dealer, but is now selling pieces from his personal collection, according to Cris Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions’ executive vice president of international numismatics.

Many of the highlights of Heritage’s ancient coin offerings in the Aug. 8 Platinum Night sale are from Kern’s collection. Each is graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Here are three lots that offer a snapshot of the collection.

For more information and to bid, visit the auction's page at the Heritage Auctions website, or telephone the auction company at 800-872-6467.

Octavian Aureus marks founding of Roman Empire

A circa 32 to 29 B.C. gold aureus of Augustus, or Octavian, the founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor, represents a break from tradition by promoting the new republic over its ruler. 

Octavian’s reign marked a departure from the coins issued by various moneyers of the Roman Republic, which reflected the desires of individual mint officials.

Octavian’s coins are “elegantly simplistic when compared with the often busy designs of the late Republic” according to Heritage. 

The “triumphant” quadriga on the reverse is likely related to the Battle of Actium, which solidified Octavian as the sole ruler of the Roman Empire and marks the founding of the new republic. The imagery suggests that Octavian used the coins to proclaim that he was “finally realizing the legacy that began with Julius Caesar by re-founding the Roman Republic,” the auction firm said.

The coin is graded Extremely Fine by NGC, with strike 5/5 and surface 3/5.

It is estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.

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