The sestertius was worth one-fourth of a denarius in the ancient
Roman monetary system.
The coin was a major part of the system during Roman Imperial times,
according to Nomos Ag, which featured a circa 41 to 42 sestertius of
Claudius during the firm’s online Obolos auction No. 6, which closed
The coin, which was struck from orichalcum, realized 497.70 Swiss
francs ($492.47 U.S.), including the 18.5 percent buyer’s fee, against
an opening bid of 150 Swiss francs.
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Orichalcum is a yellow metal apparently prized in ancient times, but
probably a form of brass or a similar alloy. This example was struck
Claudius reigned from 41 to 54 A.D., instituting major public works
projects like aqueducts, canals and roads across the Empire. The
slight deafness and limp that caused him to be ostracized earlier in
his life may have protected him when purges of officials swept through
the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula.
The sestertii coins of Claudius with the reverse of Spes, a goddess
of particular interest to the emperor, were quite large, and usually
bear a fine portrait of pure Julio-Claudian style, as we see on the
coin in the auction, according to Nomos.
Spes advances to left, lifting up the hem of her robes with her left
hand and holding a flower in her right.
The sestertii were, in fact, so popular with the troops on the
frontier that many local imitations were produced as well, many
looking decidely bizarre, according to Nomos.
The coin measures 33 millimeters in diameter and weighs 26.36 grams,
slightly wider than a Kennedy half dollar and just over twice as heavy.
The coin in the auction is “nicely toned,” with the reverse slightly
corroded, but otherwise the coin is Very Fine, according to the firm.