Macrinus, 217-218. Aureus (Gold, 21 mm, 7.22 g, 1 h), Rome, 217. IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Macrinus to right. Rev. PONTIF MAX TR P II COS II P P Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus in right hand and cornucopiae in left. BMC 56. Calicó 2965. Cohen 92. Jameson 204 (this coin). RIC 41. Very rare. A magnificent example, sharp, perfectly centered and lustrous. Virtually as struck.
Sold on behalf of the Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique, Switzerland, ex Sotheby's Zurich, 26 October 1993, 109, and from the collection of R. Jameson, acquired c. 1904/1908.
It has long been a truism that a single hoard can change our perception of the coins or coinage contained within it. Up through the end of the 19th century the gold coinage of Macrinus was one of the great Roman rarities, and was only found in the greatest collections: Ponton d'Amécourt had four and Montagu had three, of which one came from PdA. Then, in 1902 at the ancient site of Karnak in Egypt, a hoard of some 1200 aurei turned up (26 are now in the British Museum). Dating from the reign of Hadrian through that of Elagabalus, this hoard completely shifted the relative rarity of the aurei of Macrinus, changing them from extremely to very rare. The present coin is certainly one of them, probably going from Rollin & Feuardent to Jameson. There should be no doubt that many of the coins left Egypt with export permits soon after they were found, since at the time the authorities were certainly not particularly interested in coins. Another group of coins from Karnak left Egypt in the early 1950s after King Farouk was overthrown and the foreign community, including Greeks and Italians who had lived in Egypt for generations and often had considerable hidden assets, was expelled.