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Roman aureus soars in sale

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A unique and beautiful Type 2 aureus of Augustus Caesar (WCN September issue) realized £480,000 ($784,000) when offered for sale by Dix Noonan Webb in London on Sept. 22.

Only 22 examples of the heifer-reverse aureus minted for Augustus are known. Of these 15 are in museums leaving seven available to collectors. Five types of the coin are recognized depending on whether Augustus has a bare or laureate head and which way the emperor and the heifer face. The unique Type 2 coin offered by DNW shows Augustus with a laureate head facing right and the heifer facing left. It was graded as, “extremely fine with lustre.”

An aureus of Augustus sold for $784,000 at a Dix Noonan Webb sale.

An aureus of Augustus sold for $784,000 at a Dix Noonan Webb sale.

Brisk bidding within the saleroom quickly pushed the price past the pre-sale estimate of £300,000 to £350,000 ($508,000 to $593,000). It finally hammered at £400,000 ($653,000). With buyer’s commission added, the final price was £480,000 making it one of the world’s most expensive Roman coins. It was purchased by a London dealer on behalf of a continental European client.

“This was a strong price for a truly extraordinary coin,” said Christopher Webb, head of coins at Dix Noonan Webb. “Not only is it a unique type of an already very rare coin but its condition after more than 2,000 years is extremely fine and visually it is a beautiful work of art.”

A Charles I Shrewsbury mint halfcrown of 1642 quickly left its £2,000-£3,000 estimate far behind to fetch £22,800 ($38,608). The price is commensurate with its possibly being the finest known.

Two other sales were of note. An Elizabeth I first issue half pound took £21,600 ($36,576) while a previously unrecorded uncut strip of 12 Charles I Richmond issue farthings made the same price on a £6,000 to £8,000 estimate.

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This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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