Roman gold coins top Numismatica Ars Classica's May 20 auction

Two ancient coins realize nearly $700,000 each
By , Coin World
Published : 05/29/15
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The gold aureus of Pescennius Niger was issued during his short reign, from June 193 to the end of 194. 

The coin sold by NAC is an apparently unrecorded variety of a type known previously by a single example, and is only the third aureus known for this ruler from the mint of Caesarea in Cappadocia. 

Pescennius Niger briefly claimed the title of Augustus against Septimius Severus, yet managed to issue a surprising variety of coins despite such a brief reign.

Though earlier scholars thought his mintage was limited to coins struck at Antioch, more recent research and hoard evidence prove that Niger struck his imperial coinages at Antioch, Alexandria and at Caesarea in Cappadocia.

At Caesarea, just as at most Roman mints, the best engravers executed the portrait dies used for aurei. 

The “portrait of excellent style” was the work of a “very skilled master-engraver perfectly struck in high relief on a very broad flan,” according to the auction firm.

Niger’s silver denarii featured an array of 31 different reverse inscriptions, but most featured the IVSTITIA (or “the Just”) inscription that appears on this gold coin. The gold aureus sold by NAC is only the second to feature the IVSTITIA inscription, and both examples were struck at the mint in Caesarea.

“The message of ‘justice’ was of prime importance to Niger, who, arguably, was intent on avenging the murder of Pertinax and redressing Severus’ unlawful grasp at power in Rome. In doing so, he proposed to usher in a new golden age,” according to the auction catalog.

Virtually As Struck and almost Fleur-de-Coin, the example in the NAC auction also had an estimate of 350,000 Swiss francs ($371,235).

The auction was full of rarities and affordable coins alike.

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