Hadrian, 117 – 138. Aureus after 138, AV 7.09 g. HADRIANVS – AVG COS III P P Bare bust r., with drapery on l. shoulder. Rev. DIVIS PAREN – TI – BVS Confronted busts of Trajan, l., draped, and Plotina, r., diademed and draped; a star above each head. C 2. BMC 603. RIC 232B. Calicó 1417.
Estimate: 20'000 CHF
Starting price: 16'000 CHF
Price realized: 19'000 CHF
Extremely rare. An issue of great importance and fascination with three delightful
portraits of fine style. Light reddish tone and good very fine
Sold by Münzen & Medaillen A.G., auction XIII, Basel, 17-19 June 1954, lot 689. Sold for CHF 2’775.
Sold by Adolph Hess A.G. with Bank Leu, auction 9, Lucerne, 2 April 1958, lot 330. Sold for CHF 2’825.
Privately purchased from Mario Ratto in Lugano in 1959.
Ferruccio Bolla (1911-1984) Collection, sold by Anton Tkalec AG and Astarte SA, Zürich, 28 February 2007, lot 37.
Sold by Numismatica Genevensis S.A., auction V, Geneva, 2-3 December 2008, lot 229.
Sold by Hess-Divo AG, Zürich, auction 320, 26 October 2011, lot 345.
Sold by Künker, Osnabrück, auction 216, 8 October 2012, lot 982.
This coin portrays Hadrian in a youthful and idealized fashion, and has a reverse type that honours the emperor's adoptive parents Trajan and Plotina. Hill has shown convincingly that it belongs to a series which must have been struck early in the reign of Hadrian’s successor, Antoninus Pius. The context for this unorthodox series was the new emperor’s stubborn efforts to persuade the senate to vote for divine honours for Hadrian, by which Antoninus earned his epithet ”Pius”. This bust type is distinctive and belongs to a separate category of Hadrianic portraiture: the emperor is fictitiously youthful and wears only a partial beard that culminates in two tufts at his jaw line. Understandably, Mattingly and Sydenham describe this portrait style as being of ”exceptional beauty and distinction.” Comparison with sculptures marks this style of portrait as Hadrian in the guise of Diomedes, the Trojan War hero who stole the Palladium from Troy, assuring a Greek victory in the epic siege. The Palladium reportedly was taken to Italy, either by the Trojan prince Aeneas or by Diomedes, who by one tradition returned it to Aeneas in Italy. By Hadrian’s time the episode had numerous versions and was a core element of the Roman foundation mythology, making it a perfect marriage of this emperor’s infatuation with Greece and his dedication to Rome. The reverse, inscribed DIVIS PARENTIBVS (‘to his parent deities’), show the jugate busts of Trajan and Plotina adorned with stars. A related aureus (Calico 1418) that must belong to this series portrays the divine parents, each accompanied by a star, on opposite sides of the coin. Two other reverse types paired with Hadrian as Diomedes recall the divine origins of Rome: ROMVLO CONDITORI (‘Romulus the founder’), Romulus striding r.; and VENERI GENETRICI (‘Venus who brings forth’), Venus standing. The remaining three reverse types in the series honour Jupiter, a god with imperial associations, and present Hadrian in a military context, presumably to showcase his military successes and to curry support with the army.