Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 72

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Lot 4121

Octavian and Julius Caesar. Gold Aureus (8.23g) struck in Italy, summer-autumn 43 BC. C CAESAR COS PONT AVG. Bare head right of young Octavian. Reverse: C CAESAR DICT PERP PONT MAX. Laureate head right of Caesar. Sear 1525; Calicó 52; Craw. 490/2; Syd. 1321 Published: G.M.A. Richter, Roman Portraits, 1948, no. 14; Bahrfeldt, p. 45 note. Some scattered field marks noted. Boldly struck with portraits and legends sharp. A classic rarity in Roman coinage. About Extremely Fine.

This important coin dates from the time of Octavian's election as consul in August 43 BC, the Senate having been forced to acquiesce in the young man's elevation to Rome's highest magisterial office when he marched on the city at the head of an army of Caesarian veterans comprising eight legions. This issue is the first gold portrait coinage of Rome. It marks not only Octavian's assumption of that title, but also proclaims his position as the rightful heir to Julius Caesar, whose portrait and name appear on this coin.

The realistic portrait honoring Julius Caesar, having been slain on the Ides of March just eighteen months earlier, both flattered the soldiers, who were devoted to their late commander, and served to strengthen the claim of the young Octavian to be Caesar's true successor. The issue was clearly in response to Mark Antony's production of denarii in Cisalpine Gaul a few months earlier on which Caesar's portrait was also given prominence. Octavian's inscription records his consulship, the first of thirteen that he would hold during his long political career. Also noted are his membership in the priestly colleges of the pontifices (PONT) and the augures (AVG).
Estimated Value $100,000 - 130,000.
The Hunter Collection; Ex Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection (Part III, Sotheby's Sale 6054, December 4, 1990, lot 67); Metropolitan Museum of Art (Part I, Sotheby's Zurich, 10 November 1972, lot 14); Sir E.H. Bunbury Collection (Sotheby's, 1895, lot 275).

Realized $425,500

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