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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Prieur Pescennius Niger Tetradrachm
Pedigreed to Leu 36 (1985) & M&M 47 (1972)

CNG 111, Lot: 531. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $6000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Antioch. Pescennius Niger. AD 193-194. AR Tetradrachm (25mm, 11.02 g, 12h). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / ΠPONOIA ΘЄωN, eagle standing facing on palm frond, head and tail right, with wings spread. Prieur 180 (this coin); McAlee 652 (this coin cited and illustrated). VF, toned, some roughness. Extremely rare, only one known to Prieur, and one in CoinArchives (CNG 81, lot 813, which hammered at $6500).

From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex M&M Numismatics 1 (7 December 1997), lot 253; Leu 36 (7 May 1985), lot 290; Münzen und Medaillen AG 47 (30 November 1972), lot 516.

Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor by his troops while serving as governor of Syria in 193 AD, and issued coins primarily from the mint of Antioch, though coins also exist from Alexandria and some provincial mints. At the same time as it was manufacturing denarii and aurei, the Antioch mint also did double-duty and issued tetradrachms. In his book, Prieur noted only one example of this particular type; only one other piece has been sold at auction since (CNG Mail Bid Sale 81, 813). Niger did not have long to issue coins of any denomination: in 194, Niger was defeated by Severus and died of his wounds. The Historia Augusta says that his head was put on a pike and sent to Rome, his wife and children were murdered, and his estates confiscated.