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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XXI, Lot: 832. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $7000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Gallienus. AD 253-268. Antoninianus (20mm, 2.50 g, 6h). Rome mint. 6th emission, circa AD 260/1-262. GALLIENVS P F AVG, bust left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet and cuirass decorated with an aegis on the breast, holding in right hand a spear over his far shoulder, shield decorated with aegis on left arm / [P M] TR P X X C VIII P P (sic), Mars, holding transverse spear in right hand and round shield in left, descending right through the air to Rhea Silvia, who is reclining, asleep on the ground, hands behind her head. Roma XIV, lot 796 (same obv. die); Roma XIII, lot 890 (same obv. die); otherwise unpublished. Good VF, toned, traces of silvering, flan crack, light porosity. Fine style. Extremely rare, the third known of this remarkable issue.

This reverse type is known on two rare issues of aurei of Gallienus, which Göbl placed at Milan mint, during its second emission (MIR 36, 945gg and 946gg). However, the obverse die on these antoniniani is certainly engraved by the same hand as MIR 36, 375aa, which is the only issue with a matching obverse type (all other helmeted bust types of Gallienus incorporate a radiate crown into the helmet). That issue Göbl rightly placed in the sixth emission of Rome, due to its reverse type that bears the conventional officina marking used at Rome at that time. The present piece suggests that the two aurei should be reattributed to Rome, since no other aspect of those issues demands a placement at Milan, and the reverse type is one that is intimately related to the foundation of the city of Rome: In Roman mythology, Mars and Rhea Silvia were the parents of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, and this scene depicts the encounter that led to their conception. While the mint assignment and dating are rather clear, the perplexing issue is the reverse legend, which cites tribunician and consular terms that are impossible for Gallienus, and such an irregularity seems at odds with a product of the Rome mint.