Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 7

Estimate: 50'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 40'000 CHF Price realized: 45'000 CHF
Marcus Antonius with Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus. Aureus, mint moving with M. Antonius (Corcyra ?) Summer 40, AV 7.88 g. ANT·IMP· – III·VIR·R·P·C Bare head of M. Antony r.; behind, lituus. Rev. CN· DOMIT·AHENOBARBVS·IMP· Prow r.; above twelve-pointed star. Babelon Antonia 55 and Domitia 22. C 9. Bahrfeldt 86. Sydenham 1178. Sear Imperators 257. Mazzini 9 (this coin). Biaggi 49 (this coin). RBW 1804. Crawford 521/1. Calicó 82 (this coin).
Of the highest rarity, only four specimens known of which only two are in private hands.
A very interesting portrait struck on a full flan, good very fine


Giuseppe Mazzini (1883-1961) Collection, bought by Mario Ratto.

Privately sold by Mario Ratto (1906-1990) in 1958 for 700 000 Lire.

Leo Biaggi de Blasys (1906-1979) Collection, sold to Bank Leu and Ratto in 1978.

Sold by Bank Leu, Zürich, auction 45, 26 May 1988, lot 301.

“A Student and his Mentor” Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 70, 16 May 2013, lot 190.

Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus ("bronze beard") was one of the most prominent naval commanders of the Imperatorial age. His first coinage was an independent issue of 41 B.C. as Imperator that consisted of aurei and denarii bearing personal types. His next was struck in 40 B.C. for Marc Antony, whose political movement he had joined. Though the obverse of this aureus is dedicated to Antony, the reverse is unashamedly personal, bearing Ahenobarbus' name and title and the prow of a war galley, a clear reference to his role as naval commander. Ahenobarbus had a most adventurous career, much of which was spent in the service of Antony. Though he had opposed Julius Caesar at Pharsalus, he was pardoned, only to then be named in Octavian's proscriptions of 43 B.C. and thus joined the cause of Brutus and Cassius. He patrolled the Adriatic for the Republicans and, together with Murcus, the naval commander for Cassius, defeated the Caesarean admiral Calvinus at sea. It was for this victory early in 42 B.C. that Ahenobarbus was hailed Imperator, for it prevented additional supplies and men from reaching the main forces of Antony and Octavian in Illyria. After Brutus and Cassius were defeated at Philippi in October, 42 B.C., Ahenobarbus had to resort to piracy in the Adriatic to maintain his fleet. He did so until 40 B.C., when he allied himself with Marc Antony at a moment when war with Octavian appeared imminent; this aureus appears to have been struck at this critical moment. However, war was avoided when Antony and Octavian came to terms with the Treaty of Brundisium, and Ahenobarbus was then appointed governor of Bithynia. He served Antony for nearly a decade until, finally, he defected to his old enemy Octavian just prior to the battle of Actium. Though on the winning side, Ahenobarbus did not long survive that great contest, dying of natural causes late in 31, or early in 30 B.C.

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