The major rarities of the vast Morris Collection of Roman Imperial coins was sold by Heritage Auctions as part of their January 2019 NYINC sale. As announced at the time the remainder of the collection is to be sold through dedicated monthly internet auctions over the remainder of this year.
On May 26 Part I of the sale was completed with extremely satisfactory results. The 507 lots brought in $60,000 over the high estimate of $156,000 for a total of $215,704. Numerous unlisted varieties realized multiples of high estimate with sestertii being particularly active.
The top-pricedgold item was a delightful 20 mm, 4.42 g solidus of Leo V the Armenian, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire AD 813-820 (Sear 1627). Struck at Constantinople the obverse shows Leo wearing crown and chlamys with cross potent in his right hand. The reverse has a bust of Constantine also with crown and chlamys. Graded a desirable NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5, albeit with edge scuffs, it had no problem in selling for $5,040.
Top silver item was a superb 26 mm, 13.16 g 16 litrai of Syracuse struck for Philistis, wife of Hieron II, 275-215 BCE. The obverse shows the queen’s head veiled and diademed. The reverse has Nike driving a quadriga (HGC 2, 1556; SNG ANS 872-874). In NGC Choice AU 4/5 - 2/5 the lot realized $3,360.
While high grade and attractive examples stole the show the fifth highest selling item was a 30 mm, 25.30 g bronze Commodus sestertius struck at Rome in CE 186 and graded just NGC Choice Fine 4/5 - 2/5 (RIC III 487). Its price of $2,640 proves that even the modest preservation specimens are garnering attention if sufficiently rare and interesting.
Full catalog details and prices realized are available at