By CoinWeek ….
Internet auction site Catawiki offers a wide range of collectibles, including fine art, jewelry, comics, toys, militaria, wine, and antiques. Numismatists will also find a large selection of precious metal bullion, currency, stamps, and rare coins. This week, we focus on auction highlights that have recently closed and are still open for bidding.
For almost the entire the second century, the Roman Empire was ruled by a string of competent and thoughtful emperors known historically as the “Five Good Emperors”. The third emperor, Hadrian (reigned 117-138), is arguably best known for the wall he built across northern Britain, separating what is now England from the lands of the Picts (Scotland). But he is also famous for his love of Greek culture and the resulting fact that he was the first emperor to be portrayed wearing a beard in sculpture and on his coinage.
The aureus was the standard gold coin of the Romans for over three hundred years, from right before the establishment of the Empire until the beginning of the fourth century and its replacement by the emperor Diocletian. At the time of Hadrian’s rule, the aureus had been debased slightly from its original weight but had not yet suffered the more significant devaluations to follow under Hadrian’s successor, the fourth “Good Emperor” Marcus Aurelius, and future emperors.
An example of such an aureus struck in Rome towards the end of Hadrian’s reign sold recently on Catawiki. A bust of Hadrian appears on the obverse, with his name and imperial title. The reverse features a personification of the Roman people, as indicated by the inscription GEN-I-O. P. R (“Genius of the Roman People”). This genius holds a patera, or ceremonial libation bowl, in his right hand and a cornucopia in the left. Flames are visible from atop a small altar. Even though the edges and fields are smoothed somewhat, the coin is in excellent condition, graded Very Fine to Extremely Fine.
It sold for € 3,820 (approx. $4,507 USD).
The Austrian Mint produces some of the most popular and respected precious metal and gold bullion products on the international market. Its Philharmonic series of gold, silver, and platinum coins is just one example among many.
So, combining superior refining technique and high artistry, it is no surprise that this 50-gram bar of 999.9 fine gold should be one of the highlights of what is available on Catawiki. It comes embossed and sealed in a blister pack that also serves as a certificate of authenticity, and sold for € 3,590 (about $4,238 USD at the time of writing) on August 27.
As an example of the variety of world coins available on Catawiki, another recent highlight is this seven-coin mint set from China. Issued in 1981 by the People’s Bank of China, the coins are still in their original red vinyl pouch and come with a certificate of authenticity and the original folder. All seven of the coins, in denominations of 1 Yuan, 5 Jiao, 2 Jiao, 1 Jiao, 5 Fen, 2 Fen, and 1 Fen, were struck at the Shenyang Mint.
The set sold for € 3,200 (approx. $3,777 USD).
Lots Open This Week
Introduced in the fourth century, the solidus was a gold coin designed to replace the traditional Roman aureus. In production for centuries after the Fall of Rome, the solidus would eventually lose much of its gold content but was initially one of the purest gold coins of antiquity.
The Roman emperor Julian, reigning from 361 to 363, is perhaps most notable for being the “last” pagan ruler of the Roman Empire. And while many legends have grown up around the emperor–mainly from later Christian writers, who referred to him as “Julian the Apostate”–Julian’s goal was not to eliminate the Christian religion but rather to restore the strength of the still-predominantly pagan Empire. This, however, did mean that Christianity would lose its privileged position – a fact that may have led to his mysterious death while on a campaign against the Persians in 363.
This rare solidus of Julian, in Good to Very Fine condition, was struck in Constantinople, which at the time had been the new imperial capital for almost two generations. The obverse features a draped and cuirassed bust of the bearded emperor (like Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian before him, a sign of his love of Greek culture) facing right and wearing a pearl diadem. His name and titles arc around the rim of the coin from left to right. On the reverse, a helmeted soldier stands dynamically to the right, looking back over his shoulder at a kneeling captive he holds with his right hand. A trophy effigy common to Roman triumphs is held over his left shoulder. The inscription VIRTVS EXERCITVS ROMANORVM arcs from left to right around the central motif. In the exergue is the mint mark CONSP, with tiny branches to either side.
The coin is estimated at € 2,100 – € 2,350 (about $2,479 – $2,774 USD). At the time of writing, the high bid is € 1,490 ($1,758.63).
The gold coins of Mexico have a long history of being used as bullion all around the world. This piece, commemorating the centenary of Mexico’s independence from Spain, is no different.
On the obverse of this 50 peso gold coin, we see an image of Nike, or rather the famous “Angel of Independence” statue that sits atop the Monument to Independence (1910) in Mexico City. She is a familiar motif to everyone who collects the popular Mexican Libertad series of modern bullion coins. The reverse features the Mexican eagle clutching a snake in its beak while standing on a cactus – an important symbol in Mexican culture.
The coin is in Uncirculated condition and is estimated at € 2,660 – € 2,950 (about $3,139 – $3,482 USD). At the time of writing, the high bid is € 1,978 ($2,334.64).
There is a strong tradition of mortuary or memorial coinage in Russia, and this highlight is one of the more famous.
Commemorating the death of Czar Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855), this 1 ruble silver coin was struck in 1859 by his son and successor, Alexander II. It features the deceased czar mounted on a horse atop a large plinth – an aesthetic choice that is seen frequently on similar commemorative Russian issues. The obverse, however, features a left-facing effigy of Czar Alexander.
In About Uncirculated condition, the coin is estimated at € 1,000 – € 1,200 (about $1,180 – $1,416 USD). The starting bid is € 850 ($1,003.20).
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Of course, more rare and intriguing coins, medals and banknotes are available at Catawiki, so be sure to check out their other upcoming listings before they close.