One of the Great Rarities
|Sale: Triton X, Lot: 814. Estimate $20000.
Closing Date: Monday, 8 January 2007.
Sold For $29500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Usurper, AD 412-413. AR Siliqua (1.37 g, 12h). Arelate (Arles) mint. [D N SE]BASTIA-NVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / RES[TITV]-TOR REIP, Roma seated left, holding Victory on globe in extended right hand, spear in left. Unpublished. EF, toned, porous surfaces. Unique.
Sebastinaus was the brother of Jovinus, a usurper who had been proclaimed emperor by the Alans and Burgundians in AD 411. In AD 412 Jovinus elevated Sebastianus to co-emperor. This act proved the undoing of the revolt, as it forced Jovinus' ally, the Visigoth Athaulf, to switch allegiance to Honorius. In the following year, Athaulf, in concert with Honorius' Gallic prefect Dardanus, defeated Sebastianus, and sent his head to Honorius. Jovinus was likewise killed shortly thereafter.
The coins of Sebastianus have been the subject of great debate. Over the years a handful have come to light, but most of these have proven to be forgeries. At the time of her article on the Gallic usurpers, C.E. King determined that only two examples were certainly authentic (see C.E. King. “Fifth century silver coinage in the western Roman Empire: the usurpations in Spain and Gaul” in Mélanges Bastien). Since that time, one other has appeared (Waddell FPL 61 [Autumn, 1993], no. 118). All of these are from the mint of Arles, which struck siliquae for both Jovinus and Sebastianus. Prior to the appearance of the present coin, it appeared that their issues comprised two parallel series with the same reverse type but different reverse legend, RESTITVTOR REIP for Jovinus, VICTORIA AVGG for Sebastianus. While the extreme rarity of all these issues rendered any conclusion tentative, the appearance of the present coin of Sebastianus now disproves it.
In identifying the known fakes of Sebastianus, King and J.P.C. Kent (RIC X, p. 154) recognized that the forgeries were either Cigoi forgeries, tooled coins of Gratian, or unknown forgeries of significantly divergent style. The characteristics of the present coin clearly situate it among the genuine coins and not among the forgeries. The style of the obverse (including the legend), the weight, and the fabric of this coin are consistent with the two pieces that are known to be authentic. Further, the style of the reverse is a perfect match with the illustration that King used for Jovinus' Arles siliqua in RSC V (p. 193), particularly the rendering of the drapery on the torso, the legs, and below the legs of Roma. The reverse die for both of these coins must almost certainly have been engraved by the same celator. This is an authentic coin of one of the rarest emperors in all of Roman coinage.