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Research Coins: Electronic Auction


An Exceptional Group of Sulfur Casts

313, Lot: 602. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1100. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Lot of twenty (20) sulphur casts of sestertii made by Admiral William Henry Smyth (1788-1865). A diverse group of casts of sestertii, seemingly belonging to the manufacturer as all but one of them (the Titus, no. 6 below) is described in Smyth’s publication of his collection, Descriptive catalogue of a cabinet of Roman Imperial large-brass medals (Bedford, 1834). Lot includes the following, with page and no. in Smyth’s catalogue whenever applicable: 1) LIVIA. Two mules drawing carpentum. P. 11, XIV. 2) TIBERIUS. CIVITATIBVS ASIAE RESTITVTIS, emperor seated left. P. 17, XXI. 3) NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS. Claudius seated left amidst arms. P. 21, XXVI. 4) NERO. Nero and Roma on tall podium, overseeing distribution of largess below. P. 41, XLVII. 5) GALBA. S P Q R/ OB/ CIV SER in three lines within oak wreath. P. 47, LIX. 6) TITVS. Titus on horseback right, spearing fallen enemy. 7) JULIA TITI. Two mules drawing carpentum. P. 65, XCII. 8) DOMITILLA. Two mules drawing carpentum. P. 59, LXXXI. 9) TRAJAN. The Circus Maximus. P. 84, CXXVII. 10) Temple of Jupiter. P. 85, CXXVIII. 11) DIVA MARCIANA. Two mules drawing carpentum. P. 93, CXLIV. 12) MATIDIA. Pietas standing left between two children. P. 94, CXLVII. 13) ANTONINUS PIUS. Pius standing left, crowning Armenian king. P. 119, CCIV. 14) Aeneas advancing right, carrying Anchises on shoulder and leading Ascanius by hand. P. 120, CCVI. 15) LUCIUS VERUS. Galley to left. P. 150, CCLXXV. 16) Verus seated left on platform, crowning King Sohemus of Armenia; soldiers surrounding emperor. P. 151, CCLXXVI. 17) HADRIAN. Egypt reclining left. P. 102, CLXII. 18) Africa reclining left. P. 103, CLXIV. 19) Hadrian raising kneeling figure of Bithynia. P. 104, CLXVIII. 20) Mauretania guiding horse right. P. 107, CLXXVII. As made. An exceptional group. LOT SOLD AS IS, NO RETURNS. Twenty (20) coins in lot.

A sailor, hydrographer, astronomer, author, and numismatist, British Admiral William Henry Smyth had a remarkable career. His twenty year service as a sailor took him around the Mediterranean, exposing him to other disciplines which he would devote himself to more fervently after 1824, when his naval career effectively ended. Most notable was his publication in 1844 of Cycle of Celestial Objects, which remained the standard astronomical reference for many years, and which earned him the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronimical Society and the presidency of the Society. Heavily involved in learned institutions throughout Europe, Smyth was one of the founders of both the Royal Geographic Society in 1830 and the Royal Numismatic Society in 1836.

Smyth’s coin collection was pieced together across the Mediterranean and was remarkable for featuring many of the rarest and most sought after sestertii. Aside from the publication of his own collection, in 1834 he authored his Descriptive catalogue of a cabinet of Roman family coins belonging to his Grace the Duke of Northumria.