Gold aureus from A.D. 71 stars in recent auction
- Published: Oct 25, 2016, 7 AM
The market for premium ancient Greek and Roman coins continues to thrive, based on recent auction results in sales in Europe.
Recent offerings of major collections, as well as scattered highlights of iconic coins, provide proof that the top end of the market is, for the most part, cruising right along. Some weakness is evident when material isn’t superb quality, but top items bring top prices.
A handful of lots sold at auction in late September to mid-October reveal market dynamics for these popular areas of coin collecting.
The star of Fritz Rudolph Künker’s auction No. 280 on Sept. 26 in Osnabrück, Germany, was a circa A.D. 71 gold aureus of Vespasian, who ruled Rome from 69 to 79 A.D.
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The coin, graded EF (according to the auction firm), realized a hammer price of €300,000 ($336,642 U.S.), 10 times its pre-sale estimate.
Vespasian helped rebuild Rome and expand the empire, leveraging propaganda (and taxes) to achieve his goals.
The coin in the Künker sale was struck at Lugdunum (modern day Lyon, France), and on the obverse shows the ruler with a laurel wreath.
The reverse, depicting Judea bound, head hung in shame, with an inscription JUDEA DEVICTA, honors Vespasian’s successful campaign against the tiny Jewish nation. The coin is part of a series of coins issued across 25 years by Vespasian and his two sons who succeeded him as emperor, Titus and Domitian.
The design is more readily available as a silver denarius, but less so in gold on the aureus.
The Judea Capta coin, however, is far from the most famous piece of coinage propaganda, a title reserved for the most famous ancient coin of all time, the EID MAR denarius.
Keep reading about recently sold ancient rarities:
Ancient coin’s six-figure price rooted in its standard-bearing design: Ancient Greek coins, in many ways, the standard bearers for classical beauty in coin design. Among the well known and respected practitioners of this art is the sculptor known to us today as Kimon.
‘Eid Mar’ denarius of Brutus brings in over $300,000 in auctio: Perhaps no coin of antiquity is as familiar, or as important, as the ‘Eid Mar’ denarius of Brutus.
Why this 460 B.C. silver tetradrachm brought a whopping $613,999: The coin is "Very rare and among the finest specimens known of this prestigious and fascinating issue."
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