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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Harpokrates of Buto
A Classic Rarity of the Alexandrian Series

Triton XXI, Lot: 85. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Hadrian. AD 117-138. Æ Drachm (33mm, 30.59 g, 12h). Dated RY 19 (AD 134/135). AVT KAIC TPAIAN A∆PIANOC CЄB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Harpokrates of Buto, nude but for decorated collar and crown of disk and horns, squatting left on lotus flower with bud to right, raising his right finger to his mouth, holding a lotus bud with his left hand; L ЄNN ЄAKΔ (date) around. Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 1725 (this coin – reverse illustrated on pl. XIV); K&G 32.655; RPC III 5999/3 (this coin, illustrated on pl. 299); Emmett 975.19 (R5); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 77 (this coin). Good VF, dark brown patina with patches of green, traces of red, twice holed in antiquity – which do not affect any significant part of the design. Extremely rare. The authors of RPC cite four specimens: this coin (Dattari 1725), the Wetterstrom specimen (CNA XIII, lot 68), the Aiello specimen, and Dattari (Savio) 7662. To this census, we can add one additional specimen that appeared in CNG E-Sale 364 (2015), lot 546. One of the classic rarities of the Alexandrian series, with four of the five, excluding the Aiello coin, struck from the same pair of dies.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection, purchased from Dr. Piero Beretta, Milan, January 1975. Ex Dr. Piero Beretta Collection (Milan); Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 1725.

A canonical representation of Harpokrates that only appears in Hadrian’s regnal year 19. Of the five specimens known, this may be the finest. The two holes indicate some sort of practical usage, decorative or jewelry, and the importance of the type even in antiquity.