Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXXAuction date: 21 March 2024
Lot number: 406

Price realized: 3,800 GBP   (Approx. 4,814 USD / 4,432 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Divus Julius Caesar AR Denarius. Rome, 40 BC. Q. Voconius Vitulus, moneyer. Laureate head to right; DIVI•IVLI downwards before, lituus behind / Bull-calf walking to left; Q•VOCONIVS above, VITVLVS in exergue. Crawford 526/2; CRI 329; Sydenham 1132; BMCRR Rome 4308-10; RSC 46. 3.95g, 20mm, 10h.

Extremely Fine; a bold portrait of Caesar.

Ex Walter Luckhardt Collection, Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger, Auction 433, 1 November 2022, lot 1431;
Previously acquired from Santamaria, Rome, in 1940.

In 40 BC when this coin was struck, upon learning of the defeat of his brother Lucius and wife Fulvia in the Perusine War, Marc Antony set sail for Italy with a small army and two hundred ships which he had built in Asia. Arriving at Athens, Antony was met by his wife Fulvia and his mother Julia, who had taken refuge with Sextus and been sent by him with warships from Sicily. She was accompanied by some leading Pompeians whose aim was to bring Antony and Sextus into alliance against Octavian. Antony's response to the embassy was to offer alliance in case of war and reconciliation in case of peace, suggesting that Antony believed that a lasting partnership with Octavian was still possible. These new lines of communication with Sextus provided an avenue by which former supporters of the liberators could find their way back from exile; the most prominent of these was Ahenobarbus, who met Antony at sea with his whole army and fleet; this combined force moved together to Brundisium, but was refused entry to the harbour by Octavian's commander.

Despite initially laying siege to Brundisium, the triumvirs were able to negotiate a settlement that provided for a continued peace between them. The Treaty of Brundisium confirmed the de facto state of affairs, while further binding Octavian and Antony through the ill-fated marriage of Octavian's sister Octavia to Antony. Antony furthermore received legions for his planned invasion of Parthia and Octavian received warships to counter the ongoing threat posed by Sextus Pompey. This denarius depicts the now deified Caesar on the obverse with a lituus, an augur's staff representing his membership to the priestly college of augurs. Octavian's possession of the augurship was also made clear on an issue with his portrait struck by the same moneyer (CRI 330) emphasising his relationship to Caesar, a propaganda tool also employed by Marc Antony (see CRI 253-5, 257-8). It is well attested how Octavian capitalised tremendously on his posthumous adoption by Caesar; in truth he owed everything he eventually achieved to this twist of fate. Octavian used Caesar's reflected but undimmed prestige to legitimise himself and his ascent to power in the eyes of the Roman people and more importantly the legions, and thus the continuation of (often idealised) Caesar portrait issues at the Roman mint under Octavian's control is hardly surprising.

This denarius, struck by Q. Voconius Vitulus, a partisan of Octavian of whom nothing else is known, features a purely personal reverse type with a punning allusion to his cognomen which translates as cow or calf. It was to be one of the last within the long tradition of the college of moneyers stretching back almost two and a half centuries, for the institution was abolished by the Triumvirate and state coinage placed under the direct control of the either the eastern of western Triumvir.

Estimate: 3000 GBP