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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Impressive Britannia Sestertius

Ex Carfrae, Bement, and Drabble Collections

Triton XXII, Lot: 1089. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $10000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Sestertius (33.5mm, 28.89 g, 11h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 141-143. ANTONINVS AVG PI VS P P TR P COS III, laureate head right / BRITA N NIA, Britannia seated left on heap of rocks, holding signum with her right hand and cradling spear in left arm, leaning on round shield set on helmet; S • C in exergue. RIC III 742; BMCRE 1637; Strack 825; Banti 44. Good VF, warm brown patina, hairline flan crack, some marks on reverse. A pleasing example of this iconic and rare type.

Ex A Distinguished Collection of Roman Bronze Coins, The Property of a Gentleman (Dix Noonan Webb 139, 15 February 2017), lot 91 (hammer £13,000); G.C. Drabble Collection (Part I, Glendining, 4 July 1939), lot 254, purchased from A.H. Baldwin & Son, 1935; H.G.C. Day Collection; Clarence S. Bement Collection (Naville VIII, 25 June 1924), lot 944; Robert Carfrae Collection (Part II, Sotheby, 8 July 1901), lot 114.

One of Pius’ first actions as emperor was to send Q. Lollius Urbicus, a previous governor of Germania Inferior, to Britain to quell a number of revolts. While most of the sources note the Brigantes (located in Northumbria) as the primary focus of these events, circa AD 143-144, most of his campaigning was against the lowland tribes of Scotland, the Votadini, Selgovae, Damnonii, and Novantae. His campaigns were successfully completed by 144, after which Urbicus and the Legio II Augusta built the Antonine Wall. This issue of sestertii was struck in commemoration of these events, for which Pius was likely acclaimed imperator for the second time.