By Catawiki ……
Catawiki is proud to present the Ancient Coins Exclusive Selection auction, which will start on April 23 from 2:00 pm EST onwards and end on May 9. The Exclusive Selection auction features an impressive collection of high-grade Greek, Celtic, Roman, and Byzantine coins.
Among the Roman coins included in this auction are several noteworthy Imperial aurei. The aureus (derived from aurum, meaning “gold”), the standard gold coin initially valued at 25 denarii was introduced during the Roman Republic – in the 80s BCE – by general L. Cornelius Sulla and only struck occasionally over the next decades. The coin was struck more frequently under Julius Caesar, who standardized the weight of the coin at 1/40th of a librum (the Roman pound, approx. 328.9 g), about 8,2 grams.
The aureus was frequently issued well into Imperial times, mostly to pay bonuses to the legions. But over the years the weight declined and the value changed. Nero (AD 54-68) lowered the weight to 1/45th to the Roman pound, and by the time of emperor Caracalla (AD 198-217), the weight was only 1/50th of a Roman pound. Its initial value of 25 denarii had increased to 833⅓ denarii under Diocletian (AD 284-305).
Aureus of Gaius and Lucius
One highlight of the Catawiki auction is an aureus of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). The coin was struck in Lugdunum (modern Lyon) between 2 BC and 4 AD. The obverse features a beautiful portrait of Augustus with the legend CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE (Caesar Augustus Divi Filius Pater Patriae), meaning “Caesar Augustus, son of the divine, father of the nation”. The reverse displays Gaius and Lucius, grandchildren and adopted sons of Augustus, standing facing shields with spears between them. Religious symbols–a simpulum and a lituus–are depicted above.
Gaius and Lucius were joint-heirs to the empire (Caesares), which is underlined by the legend AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT with CL CAESARES in exergue (Caius et Lucius Caesares Augusti Filii Consules Designati, Principes Juventutis), meaning “Gaius and Lucius, sons of Caesar Augustus, consuls elect, princes of the youth”. ‘Princes of youth’ would later become a title that came to denote the future reigns (see the aureus of Domitian, below).
Even though Augustus heavily invested in the education of Gaius and Lucius and he had chosen to depict them as future sovereigns, their untimely deaths meant they would never become Augusti and Augustus would eventually be succeeded by Tiberius.
Domitian as Caesar at Catawiki Ancient Coins Exclusive
Another highlight of Catawiki’s Ancient Coins Exclusive Selection auction is a stunning aureus of Domitian as Caesar (under his father Vespasian, Augustus from AD 69 to 79), struck in Rome in AD 75.
The obverse features a realistic portrait of Domitian, typical of Flavian coinage – portraits on coins of Domitian’s father Vespasian and his brother Titus have the same features. After Domitian was proclaimed Emperor (Augustus) in AD 81, he broke with this tradition and the style of portraits on coins changed from realistic into a more idealized style. The legend CAES AVG F DOMIT COS III (Caesar Augusti Filius, Domitianus Consul Tertium) means “Caesar, son of the emperor, Domitian, consul for the third time”. The title Caesar is an imperial title, in this case meaning that Domitian was a junior emperor, an heir to the throne.
The reverse features a beautiful and detailed depiction of Spes holding a flower and the hem of her skirt. The image of Spes, the personification of Hope, possibly indicates the positive anticipations the people have of Domitian. As mentioned, the legend PRINCEPS IVVENTVT refers to the honorary title Princeps Juventutis, which was given to young princes of the imperial family that were destined to reign.
It’s a scarce issue, hard to find in high grade, and this coin is certified XF (edge marks) by NGC. Previously the coin was auctioned by Morton & Eden and Roma Numismatics, and now it is offered at Catawiki without a reserve price.
Besides these two Roman aurei, the Catawiki Ancient Coins Exclusive Selection auction includes several other aurei (of Trajan and Antoninus Pius), an impressive selection of high-grade Macedonian tetradrachms, and several Byzantine solidi gold coins, so make sure to run an eye over the auction!