Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXXAuction date: 21 March 2024
Lot number: 395

Price realized: 28,000 GBP   (Approx. 35,470 USD / 32,657 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Julius Caesar AV Aureus. Rome, 45 BC. L. Munatius Plancus, urban prefect. C•CAES DIC•TER, draped bust of Victory to right / L•PLANC PR•VRB, ewer with handle. Crawford 475/1b; Bahrfeldt 20; CRI 60a; Calicó 44. 7.98g, 21mm, 6h.

NGC graded AU★ 5/5 - 5/5 (#6158054-001). Struck on a very broad planchet and among the finest known examples.

Ex GK Collection, Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction XXIII, 24 March 2022, lot 763 (hammer: GBP 36,000);
Ex Numismatica Ars Classica AG, Auction 97, 12 December 2016, lot 33.

Crawford allocates this issue to early 45 BC, on the basis of the legend DIC TER, referring to his appointment as dictator for the third time, but Sear follows Grueber's view that this particular series was produced for Caesar's Spanish triumph in October of that year. (CRI, p.42) The third dictatorship was awarded in April 46 BC, but its extraordinary powers were immediately extended for an unprecedented term of ten years instead of the customary one year. It therefore presents no problems for situating this issue towards the end of 45 BC, and regardless there was already numismatic precedent for Caesar retaining a dictatorial title beyond the period to which it strictly applied, reflecting, as Sear argues "Caesar's cavalier attitude towards the niceties of constitutional convention." (CRI, p.42)

Indeed, that the obverse type of the winged goddess Victory must refer to Caesar's victory at Munda against Roman adversaries highlights Caesar's increasing disdain for the factions of the aristocracy who continued to oppose him. The dictator even celebrated a triumph in the capital, an unprecedented (and taboo) commemoration of victory over other Romans, with no attempt to disguise or spin it as a defeat of a foreign power. The presence within the issue of a gold half-aureus, or quinarius, makes it almost certain that this type was minted specially for the Spanish triumph, since the denomination was typically associated with the distribution of largess at public celebrations.

Lucius Munatius Plancus, whose name appears on the reverse of this coin, was one of the Urban Prefects appointed by the dictator in 46 BC to administer the capital while he was on campaign. After this prominent issue of aurei was minted under his name, he rose to the position of governor of Transalpine Gaul in 44 BC where he founded the colony of Lugdunum, and later was appointed consul in 42 BC. Although he supported Marc Antony in the tumult which followed Caesar's assassination, he eventually became an adviser to Octavian and according to Suetonius he dissuaded the princeps from assuming the name of Romulus as a 'second founder of Rome' (Suet. Aug. 7) and instead on 16 January 27 BC he formally proposed that the title 'Augustus', meaning 'revered one' be granted to the young princeps.

Estimate: 25000 GBP