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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 73, Lot: 825. Estimate $2500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006. 
Sold For $2700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. AR Cistophorus (11.76 g, 12h). Ephesus mint. Struck circa 25 BC. Bare head right / Capricorn right, head left, bearing cornucopia on its back; all within laurel wreath. RIC I 477; Sutherland Group VI (O26/R- [unlisted rev. die]); RPC I 2213; RSC 16. EF, deep purple-gray toning, slight die shift. A wonderful portrait.

According to Suetonius, Augustus had been born while the moon was in the sign of Capricorn. Seeing this as a sign of his great destiny, Augustus associated the symbol closely with himself by striking it on coins and incorporating it into numerous works of art, so that it became a standard part of the imperial iconography. In order to legitimize their own claims, his successors periodically employed the capricorn imagery on their own coinage.