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Research Coins: Feature Auction

CNG 87, Lot: 967. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $14000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Nero. AD 54-68. Æ Sestertius (37mm, 28.77 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 64. Laureate head right / Port of Ostia: seven ships within the harbor; at the top is a pharus surmounted by a statue of Neptune; below is a reclining figure of Tiber, holding a rudder and dolphin; to left, crescent-shaped pier with portico, terminating with figure sacrificing at altar and with building; to right, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips. RIC I 178; WCN 120. Good VF, red and brown patina with traces of dark green, minor smoothing on obverse. Excellent reverse.

From the Clarence & Helen Zaar Maritime Collection.

While Julius Caesar recognized the value of expanding Rome's port facilities at Ostia, it was Claudius who began actual building in AD 42. As part of the construction, one of Caligula's pleasure galleys was scuttled and filled with cement; above it was constructed a lighthouse surmounted by a statue of Neptune. Although the actual date of completion is not certain, it must have occurred shortly before this sestertius was minted. A further expansion of the facilities was required under Trajan and Hadrian. By the fourth century, however, the port's importance began to diminish as a result of silting. Soon the region became a breeding ground for malaria and was abandoned.