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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 2236. Estimate $1500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $1350. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MAJORIAN. 457-461 AD. Æ 15mm (1.52 gm). Milan mint. D N IVL MAJ[ORIANVS] P F AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right / VICTORI-A AVGGG, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm; [M]D. RIC X 2646 var. (...PE AVG); LRBC 582 var. (...PER AVG). Good VF, brown patina. Exceptional condition and very rare! ($1500)

Majorian came from an illustrious Italian family and was considered a possible successor to the throne after the death of Valentinian III in 455. With the deposition of Avitus in October 456, Majorian and Ricimer were the de facto rulers of the West, and Majorian was proclaimed emperor by the army on 1 April 457. Just as Avitus had not been accepted in Italy, Majorian was not accepted in Gaul, and he successfully led military campaigns in 458/9 to quell any threat of revolt from that quarter. He did not have such luck in Spain, however, as in 460/1 his two naval expeditions against Gaiseric met with disaster. In the meantime, he also had aroused the suspicions of Ricimer, and after Majorian's return to Rome on 2 August 461 he was seized, and five days later he was beheaded.

All of Majorian's coins are scarce, if not rare. The bronze issues were struck at Mediolanum (Milan), Ravenna and Rome, and the Milan issue is exceptional for the fact that the mint was not a moneta publica- this and an uncertain specimen of Nepos being the only bronze it is known to have issued. In the absence of the mint-mark, a situation which is frequently encountered on the fifth-century aes coinage due to the small flan size and crude workmanship, often one must depend totally on style for mint attribution. In the case of Majorian's Milan issue this becomes quite easy as the style is distinctive, most noticeably in the bulbous facial features and long neck.