Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 953

Price realized: 30,000 GBP   (Approx. 33,795 USD / 34,427 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Claudius AV Aureus. Lugdunum, AD 41-42. TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P, laureate head to right / IMPER RECEPT inscribed across the wall of the Praetorian Camp, which has ramparts and two gates at front and behind; within the camp, Fides Praetorianorum (the Loyalty of the Praetorians) seated to left in temple, holding sceptre, with legionary aquila before. RIC I 7; C. 40; BMCRE 5; Biaggi 205; Calicó 359. 7.68g, 20mm, 10h.

Good Extremely Fine; evidence of clashed dies to both sides, otherwise a sublime example of this coveted architectural type, featuring wonderfully lustrous metal and a striking portrait of Claudius. Rare in this condition.

From the inventory of a German dealer.

Claudius AV Aureus. Lugdunum, AD 41-42. TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P, laureate head to right / IMPER RECEPT inscribed across the wall of the Praetorian Camp, which has ramparts and two gates at front and behind; within the camp, Fides Praetorianorum (the Loyalty of the Praetorians) seated to left in temple, holding sceptre, legionary aquila before. RIC I 7; C. 40; BMCRE 5; Biaggi 205; Calicó 359. 7.68g, 20mm, 10h.

Good Extremely Fine; unobtrusive evidence of clashed dies(?) to both sides, a sublime example of this highly desirable architectural type, wonderfully lustrous metal and featuring a striking portrait. Scarce.

From the inventory of a German dealer.

This aureus, minted in the first year of Claudius' reign, celebrates the precise circumstances of his becoming emperor. After the assassination of his predecessor Caligula by members of the Praetorian Guard, the terrified Claudius, the last adult male of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, was notoriously found hiding behind a curtain in the palace by a soldier. Suetonius writes that the man immediately saluted Claudius as emperor and the Praetorian Guards conducted him in a litter to their camp, which features on the reverse of this coin, "sad and trembling: the people who met him pitied him, as if the poor innocent man was being carried to execution." (Suetonius, Claudius 10.2)

Although the senate quickly met to take advantage of the chaos and to debate a return to a republican form of government, proceedings descended into an argument about which of them would assume the role of princeps. The Praetorian Guard, who, as a result of their function as an imperial bodyguard, relied on the imperial system for their prestige and relative wealth, swiftly declared Claudius emperor. In return, as Suetonius ominously notes, he "promised them fifteen thousand sestertii each, being the first of the Caesars who purchased the submission of the soldiers with money." (10.4)

This type commemorates this reception of the emperor, and implicitly the role of the Praetorian Guard in Claudius' accession, with the legend IMPER RECEPT emblazoned on a wonderful architectural rendering of the Praetorian Camp. Built by Sejanus under Tiberius in AD 22/3 in a blatant manifestation of military might, the camp lay outside the city walls in a concession to the ancient pomerium, a religious boundary within which weapons were historically prohibited. It was later incorporated into the Aurelian wall and continued to serve as the Praetorian base until AD 312, when Constantine the Great disbanded the unit and had the camp destroyed.

This type also celebrates and rewards the Praetorian Guard with a statue of Fides Praetorianorum (the Loyalty of the Praetorians), but the emphasis placed on their loyalty serves as a stark reminder that Claudius relied on his kingmakers for his continued rule and safety. Both this and another type PRAETOR RECEPT (RIC I 11ff.) celebrating the unit were employed on aurei and denarii throughout the first three years of Claudius' reign, and may ironically have even featured in the payments by which the emperor ensured the continued loyalty of the Praetorian Guard.

Estimate: 30000 GBP