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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Extremely Rare Hadrian Britannia Sestertius

Sale: Triton XIII, Lot: 317. Estimate $3000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 4 January 2010. 
Sold For $30000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Hadrian. AD 117-138. Æ Sestertius (25.50 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 134-138. HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, laureate head right / BRITANNIA, Britannia seated slightly left, head facing and resting on right arm, with spear lying on left arm and right foot set on rocks; round shield to right; S C in exergue. RIC II 845 and pl. XV, 320 (same rev. die as illustrated coin ) = BMCRE 1723 and pl. 94, 2 (same dies as illustrated coin ); Banti 115. Near VF, brown patina. Extremely rare.

This impressive and rare sestertius was struck during the long series commemorating Hadrian’s travels around the empire. Between the years AD 119 and 136, the emperor traveled throughout the Roman Empire, visiting various provinces to take stock of his inheritance and calm the disquiet which had arisen in the later years of Trajan's reign. His travels can be divided into two major episodes, and this coin was struck in commemoration of the first of these. This tour was designed to shore-up Rome's northern borders and began sometime around AD 119 when Hadrian first visited the provinces of Gaul and Germania Inferior and Superior. The emperor then crossed the Channel to Britannia where, during his stay, construction began on a seventy-three-mile long wall across the north of the province, known to this day as Hadrian's Wall. In AD 122-123, Hadrian spent time in Hispania, then travelled east to Asia Minor. The remainder of this first tour was spent in the Balkans and Greece, touring such areas as Dacia and Achaea, before returning to Rome, via Sicily, in AD 126.