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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Nilus Reclining with Nilometer

Triton XXI, Lot: 171. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $4750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Marcus Aurelius. As Caesar, AD 139-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 25.34 g, 12h). Dated RY 17 of Antoninus Pius (AD 153/154). M AVPHΛIOC KA ICAP, bareheaded and draped bust right / Nilus reclining left, holding a reed with his right hand and a cornucopia with his left; before, stone Nilometer in the form of a stele being inscribed by a Genius; below, crocodile to right and flora; above, L I Z (date). Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 9056 (this coin); K&G 37.74 (this coin cited); Emmett 1892.17 (R5) = Hunterian 511(same dies); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 171 (this coin). EF, wonderful dark brown surfaces with touches of green. Extremely rare, and the finest of the two known specimens, and the only example in private hands.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Auctiones AG 7 (7 June 1977), lot 450; Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 9056.

The Nilometer, in this case a stone stele that measured the inundation of the Nile, was a prominent landmark in Egyptian culture. It was vital as a calendar to mark the passing of the seasons and for assessing the fertility of the land, which depended on the annual Nile flood. It occurs frequently in Egyptian art, surrounded by attendants and the fruits of the fertile river.