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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

 
2470313
247, Lot: 313. Estimate $200.
Sold for $380. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Elagabalus. AD 218-222. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.34 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck January-March, AD 222. Laureate and draped bust right / P M TR P V COS IIII P P, Elagabalus standing left, sacrificing out of patera over lighted altar and holding club; star to left. RIC 52; Thirion 225; RSC 213a. EF. Rare last issue.


This coin type was issued in the final emission of coinage under Elagabalus, minted from January - March 222. During the previous year, a "horn" was added to Elagabalus' portrait, commonly believed to be a mark indicating divine status. The emperor's megalomania had grown to such proportions that such an unconventional symbol was directed to be added to his portrait. During this last issue, though, the "horn" disappeared from the coinage, and it is theorized that the public became so reviled by his acts that the controversial symbol was removed by mint officials. Such a scenario is unlikely, though, with the strict control exercised over the imperial mint; such an act would only have been possible shortly prior to his death but such conditions would probably preempt any new minting. It is more likely that the popular unrest provoked a sudden attempt by the regime to reform its image, one act of which would obviously be the removal of the horn. Such an act would also have been likely to occur shortly before Elagabalus' overthrow, which would support the relative rarity of these "hornless" issues.