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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 229. Estimate CHF7000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF7500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Galerius. AD 305-311. Argenteus (Silver, 3.41 g 11), Alexandria, c. 305-307. MAXIMIANVS AVG Laureate head of Galerius to right. Rev. CONCORDIA AVGG / ALE Alexandria, or Tyche, wearing mural crown and long robes, standing left, holding the head of Serapis in her outstretched right hand and long scepter in her left; to right, Δ. Unrecorded, but for NAC 51, 2009, 416 (same dies). Extremely rare. A remarkable coin of great interest, beautifully struck and very sharp. Good extremely fine.

From the East Side collection, Switzerland.

While it seems clear that the Romans produced a great number of silver coins following the reforms in the 290s, the vast majority of those minted were undoubtedly recalled and melted down to make equally vast numbers of silver pieces for Constantine I and his family. Most of the argenteithat were made bore the standard reverse types, such as gates or legionary camps; however, a few mints produced coins bearing reverses that were specific to only the city that issued them. This piece, for example, almost certainly shows the city of Alexandria, wearing a mural crown and, a key factor in her identification, holding a head of Serapis in her right hand. Exactly when this coin was struck remains unclear: gold issues of Maximinus Daza struck a little later (as RIC 94A and 96) both show Sol holding a head of Serapis, which might mean that this coin of Galerius should be placed there too. However, the extremely rare companion piece to this coin, lot 242 below, is of Maximinus Caesar, and this argues for a slightly earlier date, as given here. In any case, after the mid 290s, Alexandrian silver becomes extremely rare.