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Research Coins: Feature Auction


From the Gilbert Steinberg Collection

Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 722. Estimate $10000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 7 January 2008. 
Sold For $28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. AV Aureus (7.74 g, 6h). Pergamum mint. Struck 19 BC. AVGVSTVS, bare head right / SIGNIS above, RECEPTIS below, capricorn right. RIC I 521; Calicó 272 (this coin illustrated); BMCRE 680 = BMCRR East 298; BN 976, 979-980. Near EF, underlying luster. Rare.

Ex Gilbert Steinberg Collection (Numismatica Ars Classica, 16 November 1994), lot 146.

This coin, again reflecting Augustus’ repeated reference to the recovery of the standards from Parthia, includes another symbol of Augustus, that of the capricorn. According to Suetonius (Div. Aug. 1.94), the capricorn was Augustus’ birthsign. However, given the fact that he was born in late September, this cannot be the case, and numerous explanations have been offered. The globe between the beast’s forelegs may be either the sun or the moon, and it has been posited that this reference is to the position of one of those to heavenly bodies being located within that constellation. However, the evidence tends to refute all these interpretations, and one must go looking elsewhere for a more satisfactory explanation of its importance.