Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 87

Estimate: 100'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 80'000 CHF Price realized: 230'000 CHF
Florian, June – August 276. Heavy aureus, Cyzicus 276, AV 6.42 g. IMP C M ANNIVS FLORIANVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. CONSERVATOR AVG Sol in quadriga l., holding reins in r. hand and whip in l. C 16. RIC 17 (Roma). Estiot 12a. CBN pl.100, 554. Calicó 4125 (this reverse die).
Extremely rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, among the finest aurei
of Florian in existence. A bold portrait perfectly struck and centred on a full
flan. Virtually as struck and almost Fdc


Ferruccio Bolla (1911-1984) Collection, sold by Anton Tkalec AG and Astarte SA, Zürich, 28 February 2007, lot 85.

In 275 the once-crumbling Roman Empire had made great strides toward recovery under the stewardship of Aurelian. In the previous year Aurelian had celebrated a spectacular triumph in Rome for his recovery of the Western provinces from Tetricus and the Eastern provinces from the rulers of Palmyra. Having achieved so much, Aurelian was not content to rest on his laurels, and had he not been murdered late in 275 he would have waged war against the Persians. Tacitus, perhaps a leading senator at the time, stepped in to replace Aurelian as emperor. He made his half-brother, Florian, his praetorian prefect and the two immediately set out for the East to confront the Heruli and Goths, who had swept into Asia Minor amidst the confusion. Indeed, the barbarians had only gathered in such force to join Aurelian as mercenaries on his Persian campaign, and in the meantime they found themselves with little option but to engage in piracy.

If we accept the testimony of coinage and the sketchy historical record, Tacitus and Florianus found some success against the invaders, notably in Cilicia. But not long afterward Tacitus died from disease or murder, after which Florian laid claim to his brother’s title. He would not reign long, however, as Probus, the most successful of Aurelian’s generals and the commander of the Roman armies in the East, opposed Florian. Probus emerged victorious and became one of Rome’s most successful emperors.

Florian was most likely killed by his own soldiers, who had been struck by a pestilence. Nothwithstanding the information we have from sources that depict him bald, Florian is represented on the coin with short hair, evenly spread on the skullcap, a similarly short beard, and an expression exuding strength and determination.

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