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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton IX, Lot: 1557. Estimate $15000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 January 2006. 
Sold For $17000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

HERENNIUS ETRUSCUS. As Caesar, 250-251 AD. AV Aureus (4.28 g, 7h). Q HER ETR MES DECIVS NOB C, bare-headed and draped bust right / PIETAS AVGG, Mercury standing left, wearing winged petasus, holding purse in extended right hand and cradling caduceus in left arm. RIC IV 142a; Calicó 3309 (Rarity 5); Hunter -; cf. Cohen 10. Near EF, some light hairlines. Extremely rare; we can locate no recent auction records for this type, and Calicó could not even locate a photograph. ($15,000)

The type of Mercury appeared frequently in the Republican period but was rare on imperial coinage until revived by Herennius. Although the reason for the revival is unclear today, the type must have had considerable significance, for Mercury appears as a type on all three of Herennius’ coinage metals (although no more than a handful of examples are known in gold). Mercury represents commerce and prosperity, symbolized by the purse he holds, but the legend PIETAS suggests that he appears here in his role as messenger of the gods, symbolized by his winged petasus and herald’s caduceus.