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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Nero Port of Ostia Sestertius

CNG 109, Lot: 640. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $13000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Nero. AD 54-68. Æ Sestertius (34mm, 25.59 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 64. NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis / AVG VSTI above, S POR OST C below, Port of Ostia: seven ships within the harbor; at the top is a pharus surmounted by a statue of Neptune; below is a reclining figure of Tiber, holding a rudder in right hand and dolphin in left; to left, crescent-shaped pier with portico, terminating with figure sacrificing at altar and with building; to right, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips. RIC I 181; WCN 105; BMCRE 134; BN 290 (same rev. die as BN 291). Good VF, dark brown and green patina. Finely detailed reverse of this highly desirable type.

From the collection of a Texas Wine Doctor. Ex Classical Numismatic Group XXVI (11 June 1993), lot 439.

While Julius Caesar recognized the value of expanding Rome's port facilities at Ostia, it was Claudius who actually began building in AD 42. As part of the construction, one of Caligula's pleasure galleys was scuttled and filled with cement; above it was constructed a lighthouse surmounted by a statue of Neptune. Although the actual date of completion is not certain, it must have occurred shortly before this sestertius was minted. A further expansion of the facilities was required under Trajan and Hadrian. By the fourth century, however, the port's importance began to diminish as a result of silting. Soon the region became a breeding ground for malaria and was abandoned.