World Coins

Market Analysis: Antinous portrait in high relief

Hadrian’s favorite Antinous is depicted in beautiful high relief on this bronze drachm minted in Alexandria around 137 A.D that sold for $3,750 on Jan. 19.

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

Cornelius Vermeule is well-known to American numismatists for his book Numismatic Art in America and he was also a respected curator of ancient art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for more than four decades.

Vermeule had a choice collection, offered by Classical Numismatic Group in June 1999, which included this bronze drachm depicting Antinous, a young man who was the favorite beloved of the Roman emperor Hadrian. The two met around 123 A.D. and Antinous died in October 130 A.D., shy of his 20th birthday, under mysterious circumstances. Modern explanations range from an accidental drowning to murder, and upon his death Hadrian deified the young man and organized a cult devoted to his worship that spanned throughout the Roman empire.

The offered bronze, offered as part of the Peter J. Merani Collection, was minted at Egypt’s Alexandria mint and was struck circa 137 A.D. It features a beautiful high-relief portrait of the young man and the reverse shows him as Hermes on horseback.

In the catalog for its Triton XXIV sale in January, CNG observed, “Dark brown patina, edge split, obverse slightly double struck,” grading it Very Fine.

It sold for $3,750 on an estimate of $2,000.

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