Heritage World Coin Auctions
ANA Signature Sale 3066  17 Aug 2018
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Lot 30119

Estimate: 150 000 USD
Price realized: 240 000 USD
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Macrinus (AD 217-218). AV aureus (20mm, 6.80 gm, 5h). NGC (photo-certificate) Choice AU ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 218. IMP C M OPEL SEV-MACRINVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Macrinus right with older features and longer beard, seen from behind / LIBERALITAS-AVG, Macrinus and Diadumenian seated left on platform in curule chairs, Dacian bodyguard standing left behind holding falx, Liberalitas standing left before holding coin counter and cornucopia, small figure of citizen ascending stairs before to receive largesse. RIC IV, Part II, 79. BMCRE 71 (this coin). Cohen 43. Calicó 2947. Extremely rare. A magnificent specimen, fully lustrous and struck in high relief from dies of fine style.

Ex Shoshana Collection (Heritage Auctions, Long Beach 3018, 5 September 2012), lot 20321; Metropolitan Museum of Art I (Sotheby's, 10 November 1972), lot 154; from the J. H. Durkee Bequest (1899).

Macrinus was born in Mauritania around the year AD 165. Though he is described as a dark-skinned Moor, his family was upper middle-class and he received an education that enabled him to rise high as a bureaucrat during the reign of Septimius Severus. Caracalla made Macrinus praetorian prefect, an equestrian post second only to the emperor in executive power. In AD 216, Macrinus accompanied Caracalla on a campaign against the Parthians. While the emperor was visiting a temple near Carrhae, Macrinus learned that a letter implicating him in a plot was about to be delivered to Caracalla. Acting quickly, he arranged for Caracalla to be murdered by one of his own bodyguards. Macrinus proclaimed his innocence and convinced the army leadership proclaim him emperor on April 11, AD 217. The Senate in Rome was delighted to be rid of the hated Caracalla, and while they looked down on Macrinus, they were willing to give him a chance. Hoping to disengage the army and return to Rome, Macrinus attempted a peace agreement with the Parthians, but sensing weakness, they massed their armies and forced Macrinus to grant them large bribes and reparations. To the Roman soldiers, this smelled like defeat, and Macrinus worsened matters by revoking the large pay increase Caracalla had granted them. The discontent persuaded Caracalla's wealthy and influential aunt, Julia Maesa, to bribe the Roman garrison of Emesa in Syria to proclaim her 13-year-old grandson, Elagabalus, as emperor on May 15, AD 218. Macrinus did not at first take the revolt seriously, but when other soldiers joined in, he marshaled his loyal legions and met the rebels at a village near Antioch on June 8. With his troops on the verge of victory, Macrinus suddenly lost heart and fled the field. His disgusted soldiers switched sides and declared their support for Elagabalus. Disguised as a courier, Macrinus traveled across Asia Minor and nearly made it to Europe, but he was captured in Chalcedon and summarily executed. His son met a similar fate en route to exile in Parthia.

This remarkable aureus bears a fine portrait wearing a long beard in imitation of his idol, Marcus Aurelius. The reverse depicts Macrinus during a cash distribution to the citizenry in an effort to improve his popularity. If he had instead issued more gold to his soldiers, his reign might have lasted longer.

This coin has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail if you would like to utilize this option.


Estimate: 150000-250000 USD
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