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





Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 26'000 CHF
Ti. Voconius Vitulus. Aureus 40 (?) or later, AV 7.99 g. DIVI·F. Head of Octavian r., slightly bearded; before, lituus. Rev. Q·VOCONIVS / S – C Calf walking l.; in exergue, VITVLVS·Q· / DESIG. Babelon Voconia 4 and Julia 124. C 547. Bahrfeldt 101.4 (this coin). Sydenham 1131. Sear Imperators 330. Biaggi 75 (this coin). RBW 1812. Crawford 526/3. Calicó 155 (this coin).
Exceedingly rare, only the seventh specimen known of this interesting issue, of
which only three are in private hands. Struck on a very broad flan and
with a lovely light reddish tone. Very fine

Provenance

Auguste de Belfort (1824-1907) Collection, sold by Henri Hoffmann, Paris, 20-25 February 1888, lot 372.

Hyman Montagu (1844-1895) Collection, sold by Rollin & Feuardent, Paris, auction 20-28 April 1896, lot 68, to Henri Hoffmann (1823-1897).

Consul Eduard Friedrich Weber (1830-1907) Collection, sold by J. Hirsch, Munich, auction XXIV, 10 May 1909 sqq., lot 934, to Jacob Hirsch (1874-1955).

Fedor Ivanovich Prowe (1872-1932) Collection, sold by Adolph Hess, Frankfurt, auction 137, 20 May 1912 sqq., lot 1537.

Privately sold by Herbert Cahn – Münzen und Medaillen AG in 1954 for CHF 3500.

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

Soldy by H. D. Rauch, Vienna, auction 32, 16 January 1984, lot 552.

JD Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 72, 16 May 2013, lot 515.

In 40 B.C., when this aureus is believed to have been struck, Octavian had returned from the Battle of Philippi and began the thankless task of settling some 40,000 veterans on their promised lands. As Octavian acquired land in Italy by force, his popularity suffered, and Marc Antony's wife Fulvia and brother Lucius Antonius preyed upon his misfortune with political attacks that stirred the veterans of Antony against those of Octavian. In 41 B.C. Lucius led his brother's veterans against Octavian, who quickly got the upper hand and forced Lucius to take refuge in Perusia. Thus began the Perusine War (41-40 B.C.). It had the potential to spark a new civil war, but was neutralized when the threat of starvation caused Lucius to surrender in February of 40 B.C. However, Antony was concerned by this event, and became even more alarmed when his wife and brother died soon afterward and Octavian seized power in Gaul upon the death of Antony's governor. Antony sailed to Brundisium to settle matters with Octavian in October of that year. The prospect for reconciliation was greatly reduced when Antony was refused entry to the harbour by Octavian's commander, to which Antony responded with a siege of Brundisium. Fortunately, the triumvirs settled their differences. The resulting pact confirmed Antony's control of the East and Octavian's control of the West, and theoretically bound the men through the marriage of Antony to Octavian's sister, Octavia. This rare aureus of the moneyer Q. Voconius Vitulus was struck in the midst of these events. His coins bear on their obverse the portrait of Octavian or the deified Julius Caesar, making it clear where his allegiance lay. Though the inscriptions inform us that Vitulus held the status of quaestor designate, nothing else is known of his life. Some of his issues – including the aureus offered here – show a lituus beside the portrait, an indication that both Caesar and Octavian had held the augurship. The reverse type of a standing calf is strictly personal, being a punning allusion to the cognomen Vitulus, which means calf.

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