By CoinWeek ….
A wide range of collectibles is available on Catawiki.com, including jewelry, fine art, stamps, comics, toys, antiques, wine, and military orders, decorations, and medals. And of course, coin collectors will also find a large selection of rare coins, precious metal bullion, and even currency. This week, we focus on just a few auction highlights that are currently open for bidding.
Lots This Week
Faustina the Younger was the wife and “Augusta” of the Roman emperor (“Augustus”) Marcus Aurelius. The last of the fabled “Five Good Emperors“, Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 CE and oversaw a period of conflict and invasion that many historians consider the beginning of the end for the Empire. The favorite of Emperor Hadrian and the adopted son of Hadrian’s heir Antoninus Pius, unfortunately, Marcus did not follow the wise example of his predecessors and allowed his son Commodus to ascend the throne after his own death. Anyone who has seen the movie Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe, knows that Commodus was far from being a “Good” emperor, even if the rest of the movie is ultimately unrealistic.
At any rate, Marcus’s wife Faustina was the natural daughter of Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina the Elder. Marcus was quite devoted to her, as were the army and the Roman people at large. Upon her death in 175 or 176 CE, Faustina was deified.
The obverse of this gold aureus features a draped right-facing bust of the young Faustina, her hair waved and coiled at the back with a band of pearls. The inscription FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL arcs clockwise from left to right. The reverse features a full standing portrait of the goddess Venus, holding an apple in her right hand and maneuvering a ship’s rudder in her left. A small dolphin is seen wrapping itself around the rudder. Venus was important not just for being the goddess of love (and, by extension, fertility and fecundity) but also for being a mythological ancestor of the first Augustus and therefore a special deity to all following emperors.
The example currently on offer is in Very Fine condition and is estimated to sell for € 6,100 – € 6,730 (about $7,214 – $7,963 USD). at the time of writing, the current bid is € 3,300 (about $3,904 USD).
After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE, the Church of Rome and the Pope were beholden in turn to both the new German kings of Italy and the Byzantine Empire, who reconquered a portion of the peninsula in the sixth century. With continuing strife and conflict threatening Rome, and the influence of Constantinople waning, the papacy became a player in the burgeoning Medieval political landscape. By crowning Pepin the Short King of the Franks in 751, the Pope gained a powerful ally, one who returned the favor by invading Italy and giving the territory he conquered to the papacy itself – the famous Donation of Pepin.
This, in addition to Rome and environs, became the kernel of what is known as the Papal States.
The Papal States persisted as a political entity in Italy and Europe for over a millennium, surviving numerous wars, the Black Death, the Renaissance, and the Reformation, but were annexed by the forces of Napoleon. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Papal States were restored but the damage had been done. The newly unified (1861) Kingdom of Italy finished the job in 1870 when Italian troops besieged and attacked Rome itself.
As one of the longest-lasting and most durable institutions in Europe, the Church of Rome has had to weather many changes, over time, both politically and culturally. And it has done so through a variety of means, some more effective than others. Pope Pius IX, who was Bishop of Rome at the time of the dissolution of the Papal States, attempted to assuage the great waves of change sweeping over the continent in the 19th century by adopting liberal reforms into the Church. After a rather reactionary first half of the century, the rule of Pius IX could be said to have brought much-needed modernization to the Church and the territory it controlled.
This 100 Lire gold coin was struck at the Mint in Rome in 1869 – one of the last issues to be struck under the authority of the Papal States. At the time of writing, the starting bid for this lot is € 3,900 (about $4,614 USD), on an estimate of € 7,200 to € 8,000 (about $8,518 to $9,464 USD).
After a revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty the Republic of China was born in 1911. One of the stalwarts of the Republican movement, if not the driving force behind it, was Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Dr. Sun was and is a much-beloved figure in China, respected and revered by both the communist People’s Republic of China and the nationalist Republic of China in Taiwan, so it is no surprise that his effigy would be one of the first to appear on the new government’s coinage.
Of course, many new designs were created for the new Republic and some patterns were even produced. And of those that made it into regular circulation, some lasted longer than others. The coin on offer here, however, was withdrawn relatively quickly because the birds and the rising sun on the reverse were interpreted as friendly to Japan, with which China had been at war for a year when the coin was issued. This makes it a rare variety in good condition. The current example does feature some rim damage from being clamped in a pendant.
At the time of writing, the starting bid for this lot is € 1,080 (about $1,278 USD), with an estimate of € 3,600 to € 4,000 (about $4,259 to $4,732 USD).
American collectors probably don’t need much of an introduction to the Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagle, but just in case you’re unfamiliar with the story, it all begins with President Teddy Roosevelt. At a time when the United States was a rising power in the world, President Roosevelt decided that the country needed a coinage worthy of its new prestige. To help implement his plan to beautify American currency along classical and Renaissance lines, Roosevelt reached out to noted American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who began work on designs for multiple denominations.
Unfortunately, Saint-Gaudens died in 1907. But two of his designs were produced: the $10 gold eagle and the $20 gold double eagle. Based on African-American model Henrietta “Hettie” Anderson, the portrayal of Liberty on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle is frequently claimed to be the most beautiful coin in American history. The series ran from 1907 to 1933, when another Roosevelt, Teddy’s cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, outlawed the private ownership of gold and the production of gold coinage in the United States ceased.
A conditionally rare date in Mint State, the 1924 $20 double eagle is often collected as bullion in lower grades. The example on offer here at Catawiki is raw and deemed to be in Extremely Fine condition. At the time of writing, the current bid is € 1,700 (about $2,011 USD), with an estimated result of € 2,000 to € 2,200 (about $2,366 to $2,602 USD). The spot price of gold at the time of publication is $1,856.90 per ounce; the gold double eagle consists of 33.4 grams of .900 fine gold.
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Many more rare and fascinating coins, medals and banknotes are available at Catawiki, so be sure to check out their other upcoming listings before they close.