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Research Coins: Feature Auction


One of the Great Rarities of the Alexandrian Series – Ex Dattari Collection

Triton XXI, Lot: 20. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $12000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Nero. AD 54-68. Æ Drachm (38mm, 36.04 g, 12h). Dated RY 14 (AD 67/68). NEPΩ KΛAV KAIΣ ΣEB ΓEP AV, laureate head right; L I∆ (date) below chin / ΖΕΥΣ ΚΑΠΕΤ[ΩΛΙΟΣ], Zeus enthroned left, holding vertical scepter with his right hand and thunderbolt with his left; at his feet, eagle standing left, head right. Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 281 (this coin); K&G 14.118 corr. (obv. legend); RPC I 5285 (this coin cited; attributed to RY 11 in error); Emmett 140.14 (R5); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 20 (this coin). EF, dark brown surfaces with traces of green, twice holed in antiquity – which do not affect any significant part of the design. Exceptional and one of the classic rarities of the series. The authors of RPC cite only two examples: this coin, and an example in the ANS collection.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Kunst und Münzen AG FPL 50 (November 1982), lot 151; Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 281.

This coin is one of the great rarities of the Alexandrian series, with only one other specimen having been offered for sale (Marcel Jungfleisch Collection, Sotheby’s, 1972, lot 26, which also was holed twice in antiquity). Another, heavily worn example resides in the collection of the American Numismatic Society in New York City (mistakenly attributed to regnal year 11).

Nero issued a prodigious amount of billon tetradrachms at the Alexandria mint. It has been speculated that this was part of his fund-raising campaign to rebuild Rome after the devastating fire of AD 64 (he melted down the higher silver content tetradrachms already in circulation, and replaced them with the lower silver content billon tetradrachms). As a result, bronze coinage in general was neglected during Nero’s reign in Alexandria, especially the larger denominations – hemidrachm and drachm.