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Numismatica Ars Classica
Auction 125  23-24 Jun 2021
Pre-sale bidding for Day 1
closes in 9 days 14 hr 46 min

Lot 774
  CHF
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Estimate: 175 000 CHF
Minimum bid: 140 000 CHF

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Carausius, 286/7 – 293.
Aureus, Rotomagus (?) 289-293, AV 5.10 g. IMP C CARAVSIVS AVG Laureate and cuirassed bust r. Rev. OPES I – VI AVG Abundantia standing l., holding bunch of grapes and cornucopia. C –. RIC –. Sutherland, NC 1944, vol. IV, p. 19, 175 and pl. III, 14 (these dies, misdescribed). Shiel, RN 1973, p.166, 8. Shiel p. 149, 9 and pl. B, 9 (these dies). Calicó 4778 (these dies).
Of the highest rarity, apparently only the second specimen known and the only one in
private hands. A very interesting portrait struck on a full flan, minor marks on
edge, otherwise extremely fine / about extremely fine

Ex NAC sale 72, 2013, 758.
The aurei of Carausius include very rare pieces of unusual style that bear no mintmark and often have reverse inscriptions that run over into the exergue. Most specimens are tightly die linked, suggesting the issue was small and episodic. They usually are attributed to a mint on the continent. Boulogne was an early suggestion, but it was based upon an incorrect recording of a find site. It is now almost universally believed that these aurei were struck in Rotomagus (Rouen) since base metal radiates of this issue are found in various parts of Northern France. One particularly important hoard of radiates in this style was unearthed at Rouen in 1846. This aureus was first sold at auction by Sotheby's in November, 1881 as part of the collection formed by Reverend Dr. William Chadwick Neligan, the well-known Rector of St. Mary Shandon & St. Catherine in Cork. Since it become part of the Trau collection (sold in May, 1935), the aureus was missed by Percy Webb when he was composing RIC vol. V, pt. II, which went to press in 1933. The coin was then described in the 1944 Numismatic Chronicle and was the main subject of an article by Norman Shiel, "The Opes Legend on Coins of Carausius," in the 1973 Revue numismatique. The reverse type, inscribed OPES IVI AVG, depicts a standing female divinity, who must be Abundantia for she holds a cornucopia and a cluster of grapes. Shiel considers IVI to be a simplification of the epithet invictus ('unconquered' or 'invincible'). This aureus is unique among the issues of Rotomagus in that its reverse inscription does not run over into the exergue and it is not die-linked with any other piece known to Shiel at the time of his work. The style of the Rotomagus issues is simplistic, and the die execution crude. This suggests they were made by a team with little or no experience in die sinking and coin production, but which likely had adopted skills from related fields, such as blacksmithing and intaglio engraving. The inscriptions on these coins often are blundered and sometimes incomplete, indicating that the engravers were probably illiterate. Though crude production standards are no guarantee that these aurei were an emergency military issue, the likelihood is strong. Perhaps the strongest prospect is that they were produced as a donative upon the establishment of Carausius' foothold on the continent in late 286 or early 287. Alternatively, they could have been an emergency issue in the spring of 289, when Maximian sent his failed expedition against Carausius, or an issue of early 293 anticipating the campaign of Constantius Chlorus, which was successful and cost the rebel his continental strongholds.
Since this class of Carausian aurei was struck at the 70-per-pound standard, a date in 286 or not long after might be preferred, for in 286 the weight of the imperial aurei of Diocletian and Maximian were increased to the 60-per-pound standard.
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