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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Quality| ▸ |Masterpiece Portraits||View Options:  |  |  |   

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits

We define a superb portrait as one that appears that it could come to life. Most coin portraits actually lack this trait. A masterpiece portrait not only appears that it could come to life, but also makes an impression of what the subject was like, what they were thinking or how they felt. Of course, an abstract Celticized portrait may also be a masterpiece of a different kind. For the most part, we define a portrait as depicting a real person, not a god, personification or mythical hero, but we will make an exception here when the depiction is especially amazing. In addition to portraits of the finest style, on this page we include rarer bust types and portraits that we just find attractive or interesting.


Pertinax, 31 December 192 - 28 March 193 A.D.

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Pertinax was the son of a humble charcoal-burner. After a successful career in the military, as a senator and then as praefect of the city of Rome, he reluctantly accepted the throne offered by the murderers of Commodus. After a reign of only 86 day he was murdered by mutinous guards.
SH08958. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 24, Cohen 58, VF, weight 25.04 g, maximum diameter 32.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 31 Dec 192 - 28 Mar 193 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES P HELV PERTINAX AVG, laureate head right; reverse VOTA DECEN TR P COS II S C, Pertinax, veiled, standing left, sacrificing out of patera over tripod; ex John Aiello; ex Edgar L. Owen; ex NFA Feb 27 - 28, 1979, lot 745; very rare (R2); SOLD


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

On the certificate, David Sear notes, "a scarce and attractive variant of the obverse type."
SH24852. Gold aureus, RIC III 233e, Calico 1530 (same obv die), Cohen II 314, aEF, weight 7.0221 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 153 - 154 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XVII, laureate head left; reverse COS IIII, Antoninus Pius, togate, standing left, globe in extended right, scroll in left; superb obverse portrait, recognizable portrait on reverse, minor blemish on the second I on the reverse, ex Harlan Berk; scarce; SOLD


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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SH30320. Gold aureus, Calico 655, BMCRE II 399, RIC II 297 corrected, Choice aEF, rev slightly flat, weight 7.277 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon) mint, 71 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III, laureate head right; reverse PACI AVGVSTI, Nemesis advancing right, winged, drawing drapery from top of gown with right, caduceus in left, snake at feet right; nice centering on a full flan; scarce; SOLD


Faustina Sr., Augusta 25 February 138 - Early 141, Wife of Antoninus Pius

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The Romans believed that Fortuna, after deserting the Persians and Assyrians, took flight over Macedonia and saw Alexander perish as she passed into Egypt and into Syria. At last arriving on Mount Palatine, she threw aside her wings and casting away her wheel, entered Rome where she took up her abode forever.
SH30326. Gold aureus, Calico 1746 (S3), RIC III 349b, BMCRE IV AP285, Cohen II 4, Choice EF, weight 7.253 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 141 A.D.; obverse DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, draped bust right, hair elaborately waived and banded, drawn up at the back and piled in a round coil at top; reverse AETERNITAS, Fortuna standing half left, patera in right, rudder on globe vertical in left; nice style, attractive portrait, well struck on a broad flan; ex Cayon Subastas auction 13 - 14 Dec 2007, lot 3304; a few minor hairline scratches; scarce; SOLD


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

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SH30319. Gold aureus, Woytek 525t+-12 var. (no stops, same rev. die), Caliců 1025 var. (same), RIC II 320, Cohen II 152, BMCRE III 576 var. (globe under bust), Choice VF, elegant bust type, nice style, excellent strike, weight 7.224 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 114 - 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate bust right, bare chest, wearing aegis visible front and back; reverse FORT RED P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; very scarce; SOLD


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.
SH30323. Gold aureus, RIC III 281c, Calico 1680, Cohen II 1032, BMCRE IV 912 var. (laureate head right), Choice aEF, weight 7.197 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 157 - 158 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II, laureate and draped bust left; reverse COS IIII, Victory walking left, extending wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand; superb high-relief bust, well centered, great style; rare; SOLD


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

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SH30330. Gold aureus, Woytek 525, Calico 1026, RIC II 319, BMCRE III 569, Cohen II -, Choice EF, well centered and struck on a full broad flan, nice style, minor scratches, weight 7.355 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse FORT RED P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Fortuna seated left on chair without back, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; SOLD


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

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Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.
SH51587. Gold aureus, Calico 1333/1334b (same rev die), RIC II 77c, BMCRE III 133, Hill 232, cf. Cohen 1104, aEF, ex jewelry, weight 7.279 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, Rome mint, 119 - 122 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR TRAIAN HADRIANVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse P M TR P COS III, Roma seated left on cuirass, shield at her side, Victory in right and vertical spear in left, shield bow and quiver behind; SOLD


Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D.

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Pax, regarded by the ancients as a goddess, was worshiped not only at Rome but also at Athens. Her altar could not be stained with blood. Claudius began the construction of a magnificent temple to her honor, which Vespasian finished, in the Via Sacra. The attributes of Peace are the hasta pura, the olive branch, the cornucopia, and often the caduceus. Sometimes she is represented setting fire to a pile of arms.
SH21696. Gold aureus, RIC I 27 (R2), BMCRE I 26, SRCV I 1833, VF, fantastic fine style, some light scratches and marks,, weight 7.620 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 90o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 44 A.D.; obverse TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P IIII, laureate head right; reverse PACI AVGVSTAE, Pax-Nemesis, winged, advancing right, with left pointing winged caduceus down at snake, right holding out fold of drapery below chin; ex Pegasi; very rare; SOLD


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

Beautiful Roman gold! RIC in error does not identify the drapery on left shoulder. This type was issued prior to the emperor's expedition against the Sassanid Persians. The type with Annona combined with the legend extolling the emperor's foresight (Providentia Augusti) seems to be intended to reassure that the people's interests would not be forgotten during his absence from the capital.
SH08970. Gold aureus, BMCRE VI p. 196, 812; RIC IV 251 var.; Calico 3133 (R2); Cohen IV 507 var.; SRCV II 7838, Choice EF, weight 5.61 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate bust right with drapery on left shoulder; reverse PROVIDENTIA AVG (the foresight of the Emperor), Providentia (or Annona) standing left, holding stalks of grain over modius and anchor; Sear graded as "attractive EF and rare"; very rare; SOLD




  




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Catalog current as of Thursday, December 5, 2019.
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Masterpiece Portraits