Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 100   |   29 May 2017 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 560

Estimate: 80'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 64'000 CHF Price realized: 170'000 CHF
Macrinus, 217 – 218. Aureus March-July 218, AV 6.88 g. IMP C M OPEL SEV – MACRINVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. AEQVITAS AVG Aequitas standing l., holding scales and cornucopiae. C 3. BMC 58 note. RIC 52. Calicó 2933.
Very rare and among the finest specimens known. A magnificent portrait in the
finest style of the period, virtually as struck and almost Fdc

Ex Ars Classica XIII, 1928, 1414 and Leu 91, 2004, 611 sales.
A trusted administrator under the Severans, Macrinus rose to become one of two praetorian prefects under the emperor Caracalla. He took a leading role in the plot to murder his benefactor, having himself enlisted the assassin. Three days after Caracalla's assassination, Macrinus was nominated Augustus by the soldiers after pretending to show sorrow for his master's death. For a time he continued the war against the Parthians, but soon tired of it and sued for peace, offering the enemy large payments in exchange for a non-aggression pact. This did not bode well with the soldiers, who perhaps wanted to pursue the campaign and have an opportunity to claim their share of the legendary wealth of the East. Thus, many soldiers soon deserted to the cause of a new rival, the 14-year-old grandnephew of Julia Domna, Elagabalus, who was alleged to be an illegitimate son of Caracalla. When the opponents finally clashed near a small Syrian village outside Antioch, the forces of Elagabalus got the upper hand and Macrinus fled the field. He made his way in disguise as far as Calchedon before he was captured and executed.
The coin portraiture of Macrinus depicts the emperor with both a short-cropped beard and a long, flowing beard. Previously, numismatic scholars believed the beard length indicated place of manufacture, with the short-cropped bearded portraits hailing from Rome and those with the longer beard from Antioch. Curtis Clay has disproven this idea, however, and shown that the coins were all struck at the mint in Rome (see ”The Roman Coinage of Macrinus and Diadumenian,” NZ 1979: 21-40). The beard length seems simply to have been a result of unfamiliarity with the new emperor’s likeness: Macrinus never made entry into Rome after ascending the throne, having remained based at Antioch in order to finalize settlements with the Parthians.

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