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Empress and Goddess

496935. Sold For $9750

Diva Faustina Senior. Died AD 140/1. AV Aureus (19mm, 7.20 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Antoninus Pius, circa AD 147-150. DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right, wearing hair coiled atop head and bound in pearls / AVGV STA, Ceres standing left, holding torch in each hand. RIC III 357a (Pius); Beckmann dies df38/CB27; Strack 471α (Pius); Calicó 1758b; BMCRE 403 (Pius) var. (breaks in rev. legend); Biaggi 807-8. EF, lustrous. With a pleasing portrait and a beautifully modeled reverse.

Ex Continental Collection (Triton XX, 10 January 2017), lot 750; Spink Numismatic Circular CV.4 (May 1997), no. 2129.

Born into an aristocratic Roman senatorial family of Spanish descent, Annia Galeria Faustina was distantly related to the Emperor Hadrian. In about AD 115, she married Titus Fulvius Antoninus, a respected Senator, and through her connections he was drawn into Hadrian’s inner circle and eventually chosen as his successor, achieving the throne in AD 138. Faustina was acclaimed Augusta, or Empress, and Antoninus honored her extensively on the coinage. Her vivacity and compassion for the poor made her popular with the roman people. Her distinctive hairstyle, with a tight coil adopt her head, was adopted by women throughout the Empire. Only two years into the reign, Faustina died of an unknown illness. The grief-stricken Antoninus secured her deification and issued an immense coinage in her name, the largest for any Roman woman to that point. This attractive aureus falls into the posthumous series.