Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016
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Lot 69





Estimate: 8'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 6'400 CHF Price realized: 7'000 CHF
The Roman Empire
Octavian, as Augustus 27 BC – 14 AD
L. Mescinius Rufus. Denarius 16 BC, AR 4.03 g. [CAESAR AVG]V – STVS TR POT Laureate head r. Rev. L·MESCINIVS – RVFVS IIIVIR Cippus inscribed IMP / CAES / AVG / LVD / SAEC (IMPerator CAESar AUGustus LUDos SAECulares [fecit]: Imperator Caesar celebrated the Secular Games), flanked by XV – S F (Quindecemviri Sacris Faciundis: [on the authority of ] The Board of Fifteen for the making of Sacrifices). C 461. BMC 89 var. (different division of obverse legend). RIC 355. CBN 339.
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, among the finest specimens known.
An unusual portrait well struck in high relief, old cabinet tone and extremely fine
Ex Cahn-Hess 1933, Haeberlin, 3290; Glendining’s 19 July 1950, Platt Hall, 729 and Stack’s 22 April 2009, 1381 sales. From the Saint Ludovico and Firth of Clyde collections. This piece relates to the holding of the Secular Games by Augustus – Ludi Saeculari. As important as this event was it is surprising that the coin is seen so infrequently. Really a nice example for the issue. MSG. Although the dates are uncertain, the Ludi Saeculares, the centennial games celebrating the anniversary of Rome’s foundation, were first celebrated in either the mid-4th or the mid-3rd century B.C. The games should have been celebrated in the early 40s B.C., but at the time Caesar had cast his die, crossing the Rubicon and bringing to the Roman world two long decades of civil war and upheaval. After the wars and once firmly established in power, in 17 B.C. Augustus revived the ancient Tarentine games as the Ludi Saeculares, allowing future emperors who wished to hold the games two different dating cycles from which to choose. The reverse of this fine denarius of Augustus shows a cippus, or short dedicatory pillar or column, upon which is inscribed the commemorative inscription IMP CAES AVG LVD SAEC in five lines. It was struck by the moneyer L. Mescinius Rufus in the year following the games, and in the field either side of the cippus is inscribed XV S F (quindecemviri sacris faciundis), which honours the fifteen members of the priestly college whose responsibilities in part included the proper sacred observances associated with the games. Although it is not certain where the cippus was located in Rome, it was probably erected within the confines of the Campus Martius as it was the scene of the rituals that preceded the celebrations (see Atti del Congresso internazionale di numismatica, Roma, ii, pp. 277ff).

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