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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Wonderful Portraiture

Triton XXII, Lot: 1002. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $14000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Gaius (Caligula), with Divus Augustus. AD 37-41. AR Denarius (18.5mm, 3.76 g, 8h). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. 2nd emission, AD 37-38. C • CΛESΛR • ΛVG • GERM • P • M • TR • POT, laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) right / DIVVS • ΛVG • PΛTER • PΛTRIΛE •, radiate head of Divus Augustus right. RIC I 16 (Rome); Lyon 167; RSC 2; BMCRE 17 (Rome); BN 21. Choice EF, attractively toned. Very rare and in exceptional condition for issue. Two magnificent portraits.

From the Viggo Collection. Ex Barry Feirstein Collection (Part IV, Numismatica Ars Classica 45, 2 April 2008), lot 82 (hammer 17,000 CHF); Berk BBS 112 (13 January 2000), lot 387; Triton I (2 December 1997), lot 1307 (reverse photo incorrectly placed on lot 1306); Giessener Münzhandlung 82 (29 April 1997), lot 247.

Having inherited the imperial throne with virtually no experience of government or the military, Gaius Germanicus Caesar, nicknamed Caligula (”bootikins”), had no achievements to tout on his coinage. He thus fell back on advertising his blue-blooded lineage. Through his mother, Agrippina Sr., Gaius was descended from Augustus, and also Agrippa, the victor of Actium. His father was the Roman paragon Germanicus, son of Nero Claudius Drusus and nephew of Tiberius. Through his mother Antonia, Germanicus was the grandson of Mark Antony and Octavia, the sister of Augustus. Accordingly, many of Caligula’s coins recall his dynastic connections to both the Julians and the Claudians. This denarius type pairs his obverse portrait with a reverse effigy of the deified Augustus, who is shown wearing the radiate crown of godhead. Unfortunately, aristocratic genes did not translate into success as a ruler, as Rome would soon find out.