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Triton XXIV

Lot nuber 1126

Elagabalus. AD 218-222. AV Aureus (20mm, 6.68 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 220-221.

Triton XXIV
Lot: 1126.
 Estimated: $ 20 000

Roman Imperial, Gold

Sold For $ 30 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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Elagabalus. AD 218-222. AV Aureus (20mm, 6.68 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 220-221. IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / C ONSERVATOR AVG, slow quadriga left, bearing the sacred stone of Emesa on which is an eagle; star above. RIC IV 61 var. (arrangement of rev. legend); Thirion 243; Calicó 2988a (this coin illustrated); BMCRE 197 var. (same); cf. Adda 452; Biaggi 1283 var. (same); Mazzini 18 (same dies). In NGC encapsulation 4632491-001, graded Ch XF, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 3/5. Rare and historical type.

From the Grand Haven Collection. Ex Phil Peck (“Morris”) Collection (Heritage 3071, 6 January 2019), lot 32177; Triton III (30 November 1999), lot 1130; Classical Numismatic Group 49 (17 March 1999), lot 1682; Dürr & Michel (16 November 1998), lot 105.

At the age of fourteen, Varius Avitus Bassianus (better known as Elagabalus or Heliogabalus) inherited the office of high priest of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa in Syria. The deity was worshipped in the form of a sacred stone, and when Elagabalus was made emperor and journeyed from Emesa to Rome, he took the stone, probably a meteorite, with him. During his reign, the emperor was devoted to promoting the cult of El-Gabal, building a lavish temple on the Palatine Hill to house the stone. For a brief period, the exotic eastern deity nearly came to dominate the Roman Pantheon.

While this issue could possibly commemorate the journey from Emesa to Rome, it more likely refers to the annual transfer of the stone from its principal temple in Rome to its “summer home,” a large and richly decorated temple in the suburbs. Describing the transfer, Herodian (V.6.7) writes:

A six-horse chariot bore the sun god, the horses huge and flawlessly white, with expensive gold fittings and rich ornaments. No one held the reins, and no one rode in the chariot; the vehicle was escorted as if the sun god himself were the charioteer. Heliogabalus ran backward in front of the chariot, facing the god and holding the horses' reins. He made the whole journey in this reverse fashion, looking up into the face of his god.

The final winners of all Triton XXIV lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 January 2021. This lot is in Session Four, which begins 20 January 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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