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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Superb Severus Aureus

CNG 111, Lot: 748. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $19000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Septimius Severus. AD 193-211. AV Aureus (20mm, 7.31 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 193-194. IMP CAE • L • SEP • SE V • PERT AVG, laureate head right / VIRT • AV G • TR P • COS, Virtus, helmeted, draped, standing left, holding Victory on right hand and reversed spear in left. RIC IV 24; Calicó 2570; BMCRE 32 (Wars of the Succession; same obv. die); Biaggi 1114 (same obv. die); Jameson –; Mazzini 751. Superb EF, sharply struck and fully lustrous.

This early aureus of Severus still employs the name Pertinax, which he assumed after seizing the throne in mid-AD 193. Helvius Pertinax had been a close friend and mentor of Severus as he rose in the Roman Senate, and he naturally hoped to do well when the elderly Pertinax became emperor following the murder of Commodus. But Pertinax was himself killed by the Praetorians after only 89 days, sparking Severus’s own bid for power, during which he posed as the old man’s avenger. A few years later, Severus discarded the name Pertinax after he retroactively adopted himself into the family of Marcus Aurelius, thus becoming the “brother” of Commodus, whom Pertinax had replaced.