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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90010164
Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 164. Estimate CHF30000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF24000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Probus. 276-282. Medallion (Billon, 22.85 g 12), Rome, 281-282. IMP PROBVS P F AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Probus to left, holding spear in his right hand and with, over his left shoulder, shield ornamented with Victory moving to left,leading the emperor, who is on horseback to left, his right hand raised in salutation, followed by a soldier marching left Rev. MONETA AVG The Three Monetae standing facing, their heads to left; each holds a cornucopiae in her left hand and, in her right, a pair of scales, suspended over a pile of coins at her feet. Bastien, Buste, pl. 119, 2 (same obverse die). Cohen 376. Pink VI/1 p. 47. Very rare. With considerable traces of the original silvery, billon surface as well as possible traces of ancient gilding. Nearly extremely fine.


From the collections of Erich von Schulthess-Rechberg, ‘ESR’, Hess-Leu [17], 23 March 1961, 374 and Apostolo Zeno, I, Dorotheum 975, 13 June 1955, 2104.

The coinage of Probus is renowned for the remarkable bust types used on its obverses. This piece is no exception. We not only have a military bust, but one protected by a highly ornamental shield bearing a scene of triumph. The emperor is riding to the left, his hand raised to acknowledge the cheers of the onlookers we must imagine to have been there; he is preceded by Victory and followed by a soldier who strides along, his right hand raised and holding a wreath in the emperor’s honor.

This medallion has the added interest of coming from two great collections: E. von Schulthess was a cultured Swiss banker whose family had collected coins and other things for generations, but whose Roman coins were all acquired with the help of Leo Mildenberg during the 1950s. The other attested owner of this piece was Apostolo Zeno (1668-1750), a Venetian nobleman who was a famous poet and librettist (he wrote the texts for 36 operas). He served as poet laureate to the Habsburg emperor in Vienna in 1718, but when he retired to Venice in 1729 he seems to have devoted the rest of his life to coin collecting. His collections, bought by the Abbey of St. Florian in Austria in 1747, were sold beginning in 1955. Obviously, all the coins in this collection were acquired primarily during the second quarter of the 18th century, though many of them may well have been found in the 17th century or earlier.