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Roman coins star in January sale

One of numerous mint state Roman Imperial aurei to be offered by Heritage Auctions at NYINC in January: choice Maximian (286-310 C.E.) first reign aureus (Calicó 4661). In NGC Choice MS 5/5 – 4/5, Fine Style, it carries an estimate of $10,000-$20,000. (Images courtesy and © www.ha.com)

For collectors of Roman coins, Heritage’s January 2019 NYINC sale of the first tranche of the Morris Collection is a must.

This is an extraordinary assemblage of coins. It covers the entire Roman Imperial series, from its beginnings with Augustus (27 B.C.E.-14 C.E.) to the end with Romulus Augustulus (475-476 C.E.). Rarities are the norm. A number are likely unique. Many have been off the market for decades.

The New York sale will see approximately 300 of the top coins presented in a stand-alone session. It is difficult to know where to start in describing the depth and absolute quality of these specimens. There is room to mention only a few.

They include gold multiple solidi of Constantine the Great (307-337 C.E.), eye-catching sestertii, and extremely rare denarii – including an impressive selection of Trajan (98-117 C.E.) restitution issues.

But stars of the show have to be the superb collection of mint state imperial aurei. Of these, three examples will have to suffice.

A 21 mm, 5.97 g aureus of 278 C.E. (RIC V.II; Calicò 5146) displays a laureate bust of Emperor Probus (276-282 C.E.) while on the reverse Hercules shoulders the captured Erymanthian boar. Graded NGC MS Star 5/5-4/5, Fine Style, it goes to the block with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate.

This same estimate is carried by a superb first reign Maximian (286-310 C.E.) 18 mm, 5.59 g aureus (RIC-unknown at time of publication; Calicó 4661). On the obverse, the co-emperor sports a lion skin. On the reverse, Hercules battles the Lernaean Hydra. It bears a most desirable NGC Choice MS 5/5 – 4/5, Fine Style grade.

Very rare aureus (RIC IV.I 175. Calicó 2589a) of Emperor Septimius Severus showing his wife Julia Domna and sons Caracalla and Geta on the reverse. In exceptional NGC Choice MS Star 5/5 – 5/5, Fine Style condition, the estimate is $20,000-30,000. (Images courtesy and © www.ha.com)

And, as was to be expected, the family Severus (193-211 C.E.) is to the fore. Among these coins is a very rare dynastic aureus, 20mm, 7.27 g (RIC IV.I 175. Calicó 2589a – this coin but misdescribed). The obverse shows a laureate bust of the “African Emperor,” Septimius Severus, himself. The reverse has his wife Julia Domna flanked by her sons Caracalla and Geta. Struck in Rome from dies of exceptional style, it comes with a flashy luster and a top NGC Choice MS Star 5/5–5/5, Fine Style grade. Consequently, the estimate is a not unexpected $20,000-30,000.

The period of the Late Roman emperors is well represented. It includes a siliqua of Maximus of Spain (409-411 C.E.) and gold issues of Justa Grata Honoria (440-450 C.E.), Petronius Maximus (455 C.E.), Avitus (455-456 C.E.), and, of course, Romulus Augustulus.

Typical of the quality and rarity shown by these items is an elusive 13 mm, 1.46 g gold tremissis (RIC X 2406) of Avitus (455-456 C.E.). It carries a NGC Choice XF 4/5–4/5 grade along with a modest $4,000-$5,000 estimate.

And while the main focus of the collection is Roman Imperial, there are other astonishing rarities such as those from the Roman Egypt series. Examples include extraordinarily rare 193 C.E. Alexandrian issues of Titiana and her son Pertinax Junior, both pedigreed to the Dattari Collection.

For Pertinax Junior, there is a 28 mm, 10.44 g Year 1 bronze hemidrachm showing him as Caesar (Dattari 3981 – this coin). Graded NGC Fine 4/5-2/5, this is probably the sole known example. The estimate is a conservative $3,000-$4,000.

His mother is best represented by a 25 mm, 8.16 g, bronze diobol, also possibly unique. It grades NGC Fine 4/5–4/5.

But there are some further 294 other trophy coins contained in the catalog.

Readers are urged to check all the above details, including estimates, in either the printed version or online at www.ha.com.

Following the New York sale, the remainder of the Morris collection will be sold through dedicated monthly Internet auctions throughout 2019.


This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.


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