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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XXI, Lot: 40. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Domitian. AD 81-96. Æ Obol (18mm, 3.25 g, 12h). Dated RY 11 (AD 91/92). AVT KAICAP ΔΟΜΙΤ CEB ΓΕΡΜ, laureate head right / Isis-Thermouthis, as a uraeus (cobra), erect left, wearing the headdress of Isis; L IA (date) across field. Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 627; K&G 24.183 (this coin illustrated); RPC II 2664; Emmett 329.11; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 41 (this coin). EF, dark brown patina with touches of green, some minor roughness on the reverse. Extremely rare, with none being offered in the last twenty years since this coin last appeared in auction. Fine style portrait.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex West Coast/Lloyd Beauchaine Collection (Classical Numismatic Group 41, 19 March 1997), lot 1111, purchased privately from B.A. Seaby Ltd; Dr. Hans Steger Collection (Münzhandlung Basel 6, 18 March 1936), lot 203.

When this coin was last offered in our Auction 41, we noted that the reverse type had been traditionally attributed as the Uraeus – the serpent that the pharaoh wore on a diadem or crown – and indeed, this is still the universal designation for the type. However, as suggested by the consignor (Lloyd Beauchaine) to our sale 41, the more likely attribution is that of Isis-Thermouthis, a ‘corn’ or grain goddess. Beauchaine based this attribution on the headdress of Isis, which is not a normal attribute of the Uraeus. There is a rare type issued by Domitian, also on an obol, that depicts Isis-Thermouthis as an uraeus serpent with the head of Isis (RPC II 2593, though called Demeter instead of Isis). As both of these types were issued during the same period (regnal years 10 and 11), it is possible that they were meant to depict the goddess in two of her different guises, a common occurrence in Egyptian art. We agreed with Beauchaine’s interpretation in 1997, and find no reason to disagree with him now.