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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Extremely Rare Facing Bust of Sarapis

Triton XXI, Lot: 149. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $4500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 20.45 g, 12h). Dated RY 24 (AD 160/161). TI AI [A∆PI] ANTωNINOC [CЄB] EV, laureate and draped bust right / Facing draped bust of Sarapis, wearing an ornate kalathos; star to left and crescent to right of kalathos; K/L ∆ (date) across field. Cf. Köln 1851 (RY 23); cf. Dattari (Savio) 8680 (illegible date); cf. K&G 35.825 (RY 23); Emmett 1649.24 = Niggeler 757 (R5); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 129 (this coin). Good VF, dark brown patina with touches of green and red, some roughness. Extremely rare, and one of the great rarities of the Alexandrian series.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Heidelberger Münzhandlung Herbert Grün 20, Part I (22 May 1997), lot 364.

This great rarity is one of two known for Pius’ regnal year 24, with the other specimen being the Walter Niggeler coin sold in 1966, which had a left-facing obverse bust of Pius. This unusual depiction of Sarapis facing is from the cult statue at the Serapeum in Alexandria. The type was to be repeated again for regnal years 5 and 16 of Marcus Aurelius (Emmett 2170), and for regnal year 22 of Caracalla (Emmett 2847). Emmett gives all of these an R5 rarity rating.