Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 101   |   24 October 2017 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 55

Estimate: 6'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 4'800 CHF Price realized: 15'000 CHF
Octavian as Augustus, 27 BC – 14 AD. Cistophoric tetradrachm, Pergamum circa 27-26, AR 11.47 g. IMP CAESAR Bare head r. Rev. AVGVSTVS Sphinx seated r. C 31. BMC –, cf. 702 (obverse legend reads upwards). Sutherland Group IV, 116. RIC 492. CBN –, cf. 949 (lituus on obverse). RPC 2210.
Very rare. Delightful old cabinet tone and about extremely fine
Privately purchased in March 1997.
Several theories have been put forth to explain the sphinx on Augustan cistophori; it has been seen as an allusion to Venus, to the conquest of Egypt, to the recovery of lost military standards from Parthia, or simply as a symbol of power. The correct explanation, however, seems to be the simplest: it is the device of Augustus’ signet-ring. Considering the capricorn, Augustus’ birth sign, is another type used on Augustan cistophori, it comes as no surprise that he would choose a personal design.
Augustus struck cistophori in Asia for about a decade beginning in 28 BC. The sphinx reverse was used in three varieties belonging to successive phases of the coinage of circa 27-26 BC.

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