Maison Palombo   |   Auction 17   |   20 October 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 45





Estimate: 90'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 70'000 CHF Price realized: 72'000 CHF
Caligula (37-41) et Auguste
Aureus - Lyon (37-38)
Rarissime dans cette qualité hors norme.
Exemplaire de la vente Leu 10 du 29 mai 1974, N°46 et de la vente Leu 38 du 13 mai 1986, N°229 et de la vente NAC 54 du 24 mars 2010, N°328
7.74g - Cal. 331
Superbe à FDC - CHOICE AU

This coin was struck in Lyon, immediately after the arrival in power of Caligula (‘Little Boots’, the surname given to Gaius by his father when he was still a pleasant child). Despite his innumerable flaws, the new emperor honored his family piously, including his murdered parents, Germanicus and Agrippina Senior, and his murdered brothers, Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar. This specif- ic coin deserves more study, as two varieties of this radiate portrait are found: anepigraphic (that is, no legend or inscription) but with two stars by its side, or without star but with a legend (as on this example). On the former type, the two stars are probably embodying Augustus and Julius Caesar – who had both been deified, and the portrait is likely that of Tiberius, his great-uncle whom he may have had killed, whom Caligula wanted to have deified. But he soon realized that the Roman citizens resented his predecessor, so he abandoned his project, and only went on striking the second type which identifies the divine Augustus father of the country, his great-grandfather.
It is regrettable that no corpus of this coinage has been compiled yet. Its rarity is not in doubt, but exactly how many specimens survive is not known. Quite incredibly, there were two examples in the collection of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire (1672-1729).
Unfortunately, the 1844 auction catalogue by Christie did not contain weights or images (as was usually the case at the time).
One of them reappeared recently (NAC 105, lot 11), which could be identified thanks to a provenance-note in the 1895 sale of the E. Bunbury collection, but the other example has probably lost its pedigree forever: could it be this coin? Similarly, in the absence of weight or illustration in the 1888 auction catalogue of the collection of A. de Belfort (lot 614), we cannot be certain whether it is – or not – this example.

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