Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 28

Estimate: 70'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 56'000 CHF Price realized: 105'000 CHF
Hadrian, 117 – 134. Aureus 117, AV 7.32 g. IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO OPT AVG G D PART Laureate and cuirassed bust of Hadrian r., with drapery on l. shoulder. Rev. DIVO TRAIANO – PATRI AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Trajan r. C 2. BMC 44. RIC 24a (misdescribed). Calicó 1412 (these dies).
Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, undoubtedly among the finest specimens
known. Two magnificent portraits of fine style perfectly struck and centred in high
relief and with a delightful reddish tone. Virtually as struck and almost Fdc

This coin is illustrated on the back cover of David R. Sear's, Roman Coins and Their Value: Vol. II (London 2002).


Privately sold by Spink & Son in October 2006.

This extraordinary coin fits in the controversial and fascinating theme of Hadrian's adoption by Trajan.; a deed greatly wanted and backed by Plotina and repeatedly postponed by the Emperor, who will consent to the adoption, to the detriment of other claimants to the throne only on his deathbed. On this event two versions have come down to us: the first pretends that the decision of the adoption be ascribed to an actual conviction, albeit belated, of Trajan; the second, instead, suggests a real plot, engineered by Plotina, who would have delayed the spreading of the news of her husband's death, with the intent of arranging documentary evidence substantiating Trajan's free will in adopting Hadrian. Various inferences have been made on the nature of the relationship between Hadrian and Plotina, in fact some have even conjectured that the Empress was in love with her husband’s protégé, whom she assisted throughout his reign. Surely she played an instrumental role in the unhappy marriage between Sabina, Trajan's nephew, and Hadrian.

In our opinion this issue must be considered the only one struck by Hadrian as Caesar; in fact, notwithstanding the obverse legend suggesting Trajan to be still alive and hence the issuing authority, in reality we believe the coin to have been struck after the demise of the old Emperor and therefore a ruse devised by Plotina and Hadrian to prove the occurence of the adoption of the latter by Trajan.

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