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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 9, Lot: 253. Estimate CHF27500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 20 October 2014. 
Sold For CHF50000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Commodus, 177-192. Medallion (Bimetallic (copper and orichalcum), 41mm, 60.01 g 12), Rome, January 190. M COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG BRIT Laureate bust of Commodus to left, wearing a cuirass ornamented with a head of Medusa and with the edge of his paludamentum on his right shoulder. Rev. VOTIS FELICIBVS Harbor scene. On the right, Commodus, togate, standing left, sacrificing over a tripod altar behind which stands an attendant; at his feet, on the rocky shore, sacrificed ox to left with an omphalos patera before; at the right, Pharos of four stories; above left, within the harbor, grain ship and skiff sailing to right; center left, within the harbor, three vessels: a large grain ship to right under sail, with Serapis at the tiller; a naval galley with four rowers and two standards moving to left; and, below, a small fishing boat with a fisherman. BM Medallions 44 and pl. XXXV, 3 (for the reverse). Cohen 993 var. Gnecchi 176 and pl. 89, 6-8. Very rare. With an interesting and complex reverse, reminiscent of the Ostia issues of Nero. Tiber patina with typical roughness, otherwise, about extremely fine.

From the collections of Barry Feirstein, IV, Numismatica Ars Classica 45, 2 April 2008, 133 and that of L. Benz, Lanz 94.

This medallion was issued for the New Year of 190 and celebrates the relief of the famine, which plagued Rome in 189. This led to popular demonstrations against Commodus’s Praetorian Prefect Cleander: the emperor had him executed to appease the mob, but also made vows to Neptune in order to ensure that grain ships from Egypt would arrive in timely fashion. The ships’ arrival in Ostia, with Commodus making a sacrifice in honor of their safe arrival, is what is shown on the reverse of this exciting piece, which would have been designed and struck in late 189 and distributed on 1 January 190.