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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Isis-Sothis Riding Sirius

Triton XXI, Lot: 144. Estimate $7500.
Sold for $8000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 32.15 g, 11h). Dated RY 21 (AD 157/158). AV TI AI A∆P ANTωNINOC CЄB, laureate bust right, slight drapery / Isis-Sothis seated facing, head right, holding a cornucopia with her right hand and a long scepter with her left, riding a dog (Sirius or Sothis) right; the dog is looking back at Isis; below, L KA (date). Köln 1804 var. (obv. bust type); Dattari (Savio) 8580 (this coin); K&G 35.752 var. (same); Emmett 1593.21; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 142 (this coin). Near EF, dark brown surfaces with traces of green and red. Very rare and in exceptional condition for the type. Only one low-grade example sold at auction since 2000 (CNG E-Sale 397, lot 365).

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection, purchased from Renzo Canavesi, Sagno, 1996. Ex Renzo Canavesi Collection (Sagno); Dr. Piero Beretta Collection (Milan); Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 8580.

This type appears to be rarer than indicated in Emmett, where it is given an “R1” rating. With CoinArchives listing only the specimen we sold in our Electronic Auction 397 (17 May 2017), lot 365, it is a rare type in the Alexandrian series, which is skewed by the number in institutional collections, hence Emmett’s rating. Of those in private hands, this is certainly one of the finest known.

A fascinating type related to the Great Sothic Cycle that Giovanni discussed in a 1998 article (G. M. Staffieri, “Isis-Demetra-Sothis nella monetazione alessandrina” in Annotazioni Numismatiche, Series II, no. 30 [1998], pp. 693-697).