Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016
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Lot 76

Estimate: 7'500 CHF   |   Starting price: 6'000 CHF Price realized: 9'500 CHF
The Roman Empire
Octavian, as Augustus 27 BC – 14 AD
M. Salvius Otho. Dupondius (?) 7 BC, Æ 20.35 g. CAESAR AVGVST PONT MAX TRI – BVNIC POT Laureate head l., crowned by Victory standing behind and holding cornucopiae. Rev. M SALVIVS OTHO III VIR A A A F F around S C. C 517. BMC 224. RIC 429. CBN 685.
Very rare. Brown-green patina with some encrustations on obverse,
otherwise very fine / good very fine
Ex Antiqua sale XIII, 2006, 132.

By 7 B.C. Tiberius had returned to Rome to assume his second consulship and to celebrate a triumph he had been awarded for his successful campaigns of recent years, notably in Germany. Not only did these honours provide credit due, but, as Levick points out, they demonstrated that in Augustan Rome proper triumphs were reserved for members of the imperial family. His glory of that year was followed up, in 6 B.C., with an award of the tribunician power for another five years. With Marcus Agrippa and Nero Claudius Drusus both recently deceased, and Augustus’ grandsons still young, Tiberius was the obvious successor should something happen to the emperor. From an arm’s length all of this would seem encouraging to a man who so diligently had worked toward becoming Augustus’ heir. However, Tiberius found life in Rome intolerable: he disliked the civilian duties he was assigned, he detested his wife Julia, and he realized that to some degree these high honours were merely interim measures by Augustus, who in truth was awaiting the maturity of his grandchildren, Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar. In 6 B.C. Tiberius left Rome for what turned out to be eight years of self-exile on the island of Rhodes, from which he returned only after Gaius and Lucius were dead, and his path to the highest office had been cleared. The remarkable bronzes depicting the bust of Augustus being crowned from behind by Victory are important relics of this pivotal era in Roman history. Mattingly, Dressel, Giard, Carson, Kent and Sutherland all attribute the issues to c.7 B.C. due to their presumed link to the triumph held for Tiberius. For this reason, the college of moneyers comprising M. Salvius Otho, P. Lurius Agrippa and M. Maecilius Tullus are believed to have held office in 7 B.C., as each of them – and no others – produced these bronzes. Two main varieties are known: with and without a globe at the tip of the emperor’s bust. These is no consensus on the denomination of these coins, which weigh anywhere from less than ten grams to more than 17 grams, and are struck on planchets that range from too small for the dies to markedly oversized with somewhat ornamented borders. It is always possible that more than one denomination was intended, as Sutherland proposed in describing some as dupondii and others as asses. Mattingly tentatively describes them as dupondii, but refers to them as ”Triumphal Coinage,” and Grant and Giard perhaps take the most defensible ground in describing them as medallions, not coins. This one of the few authentic specimens known of this extremely rare and interesting issue, which was extensively forged in the late 19th – early 20th century. Unfortunately many of these forgeries are not identified as such and get sold regularly in public auctions.

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