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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Best of Emperors

Triton XXII, Lot: 1064. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $11500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Trajan. AD 98-117. AV Aureus (19mm, 7.37 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 107. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / S P • Q R/ OPTIMO/ PRINCIPI in three lines within oak wreath. RIC II 150; Allen Series 32 IX.8 (dies 46/ix.3 – this coin cited and illustrated); Woytek 224f; Calicó 1121; BMCRE 253; BN 368-9; Biaggi 545. Near EF. Handsome portrait struck in high relief.

Ex Archer M. Huntington Collection (Numismatica Ars Classica 67, 17 October 2012), lot 144 (HSA 1001.1.22179) [hammer CHF 18,000].

Circa AD 103, the Senate awarded Trajan the title Optimus Princeps, “Best of Emperors,” reflecting the immense prestige and widespread popularity he had gained through victory in the Dacian Wars and the constitutional nature of his rule. He proudly placed the title on his coinage and inscriptions, including this aureus of AD 107. Hadrian briefly used the title on his coins struck in AD 117 (perhaps by accident), and it appeared on a single issue of Antoninus Pius circa AD 145, but after that it was not employed by a living emperor until the reign of Constantine I the Great, whose numismatic imagery was closely modeled on that of Trajan.