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Five Uranius Antoninus Tetradrachms

CNG 111, Lot: 545. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Emesa. Uranius Antoninus. Usurper, AD 253-254. BI Tetradrachm (23mm, 11.35 g, 6h). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Eagle standing facing, head and tail left, with wings spread, holding wreath in beak; S C below wings, ЄMICA in exergue. Baldus 8; Prieur 1029 (this coin); RPC IX 1866/2 (this coin cited and illustrated). VF, find patina. Extremely rare, only two known to Prieur, and two in CoinArchives, including this coin.

From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex Triton I (2 December 1997), lot 710.

The little that is known about the usurper Uranius Antoninus comes entirely from his coinage. He came to power in the East in 253 AD during a period of great crisis and upheaval for the Roman Empire. At this time, the Sasanian king Shapur I made many incursions into Roman territory, even capturing the great city of Antioch, apparently just to show that he could: his armies burned and pillaged the communities in their path and took people and plunder back to their own territory. It may be that Uranius Antoninus came to power in order to defend his community from attack rather than out of any anti-Roman antipathy. He issued coins from the mint at Emesa, some of which feature the sacred stone of El-Gabal, which might indicate that Uranius was part of the Emesene royal family of priest-kings. The coins are dated in accordance with the Seleucid dating system, which is reflective of the region’s historical status as part of the Seleucid Empire. As with many usurpers, Uranius Antoninus’ reign did not last long, and he fell from power before Valerian I came eastwards in AD 254.