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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 1861. Estimate $2000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $2200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

AUGUSTUS. 27 BC-14 AD. AR Denarius (3.88 gm). Struck circa 17 BC. Uncertain mint. CA-ES-AR, bare head right within oak wreath / AVG-VST, candelabrum ornamented with rams' heads, within wreath entwined with bucrania and paterae. RIC I 540; BMCRE 684; BN 1013; RSC 2. EF, iridescent toning. Rare. ($2000)

The youthful head on this controversial coin was identified by Cohen as Caius, the grandson and adoptive heir of Augustus; Mattingly, in RIC I (1st ed.), rejected this identification in favor of a "rejuvenated" Augustus, a view supported by other cataloguers in recent years. In the new edition of Roman Coins and Their Values; however, David Sear returns to the original identification of Caius Caesar. He notes that the features of the young head bear little resemblance to earlier portraits of Octavian/Augustus, and that the title CAESAR under the image seems to refer to the young heir, while the name AVGVSTVS is relegated to the reverse. Finally, the timing of the type, issued the same year which saw the birth of Caius' brother Lucius and the adoption of both by Augustus, favors an identification as Caius.