World Coins

Gold aureus of Antoninus Pius in Davissons sale

A gold aureus of Roman emperor Antoninus Pius commemorates his acclamation as emperor the second time following a victorious campaign in modern-day Britain.

Coin images courtesy of Davissons Ltd.

Hadrian is an emperor known for a wall he commissioned to be built in Roman Britain, but he was certainly not the only ruler to expand the Roman presence and proclaim it with earthworks.

A gold aureus of Antoninus Pius alludes to his victory in Britain, where in about A.D. 141 he ordered the Roman frontier be pushed northward. An example of the coin is offered in Davissons Ltd.’s auction No. 38 closing Feb. 27. 

The coin was struck circa 143 to 144 A.D., at the Rome Mint.

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The campaign?was successful, establishing the?39-mile-long Antonine Wall some 99 miles north of Hadrian’s wall. 

As a result the Senate acclaimed Antoninus as Imperator in A.D. 143 for the second time. 

This coin marks that event, with its depiction of winged Victory holding a trophy symbolizing military success. 

According to Alan Davisson, writing in the auction catalog, “The campaign is sometimes considered political rather than strategic, meant to grant Antoninus more political capital early in his reign. In that sense, the opportunity to strike this coin was more important than the military gains it represents.”

He continued: “The area of Britain protected by the wall was largely barren, and the wall itself was abandoned only eight years after completion. It was briefly repaired and regarrisoned under Septimius Severus in A.D. 208, leading to it sometimes being referred to as the Severan Wall.”

The gold coin weighs 7.13 grams and measures 19 millimeters in diameter, or about the size of a Lincoln cent. 

The coin is graded Choice Extremely Fine, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., and has an estimate of $6,500. 

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