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Antoninus Caesar

CNG 111, Lot: 699. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $4250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Antoninus Pius. As Caesar, AD 138. AV Aureus (18.5mm, 6.86 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck under Hadrian, AD 138. IMP T AEL CAES ANTONINVS, bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed bust right / TRI • POT COS DES • II around, CONCORD in exergue, Concordia seated left, holding patera in right hand and resting left arm on statuette of Spes set on base; cornucopia under throne. Cf. RIC II 458 (Hadrian); Strack 414βο (Hadrian); Calicó 1486 (same dies as illustration); BMCRE 1019 (Hadrian), pl. 67, 19 (same dies); Biaggi 699 var. (bust type; same rev. die); Jameson –; Mazzini 128 var. (bust type; same rev. die). Near EF, underlying luster.

Following an abortive attempt at naming an heir who predeceased him (Aelius Caesar), the aging Emperor Hadrian settled on a capable senator and ex consul of Gallic ancestry, T. Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Antoninus, as his intended successor. After a show of reluctance, the 52-year old Antoninus accepted his adoption on February 25, AD 138. Hadrian also impelled the suicides of two kinsmen whom he suspected of having designs on the throne, causing Hadrian's popularity to sink along with his health. Antoninus quickly gathered the reins of power and, when Hadrian died on July 10, his accession was uncontested. However, his formal request for Hadrian's deification was soundly rejected by the Senate. Only by threatening to resign and plunge the empire into chaos did Antoninus force the Senate to grant his request. In grudging respect for his filial loyalty, the Senate granted him the title of Pius, which appears on his coinage from late AD 138.

This aureus, which conspicuously lacks the title of Augustus, is generally assigned to the five-month period of Antoninus's Caesarship under Hadrian. Hill, however, places it after Hadrian's death and during Antoninus's dispute with the Senate, during which he renounced the title of Augustus.