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Stunning Faustina I Aureus

Diva Faustina Senior, wife of Antoninus Pius (died AD 141). AV aureus (20mm, 7.26 gm, 5h). Rome, after AD 141. DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AVGV-STA, Ceres standing facing holding lighted torch in each hand. RIC 357a (Pius). Calicó 1758. Biaggi 808 (this coin). NGC MS 5/5 - 4/5.

Ex Triton XV (3 January 2012), lot 1530; "An Important Collection of Roman Gold Coins" (Numismatica Ars Classica 34, 24 November 2006), lot 26; Biaggi Collection, 808. 

Annia Galeria Faustina was born into an aristocratic Roman senatorial family of Spanish descent. Her father and one brother achieved the rank of Consul; her other brother, Marcus Annius Verus, became Praetor and was father to the future Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Her maternal uncle was the Emperor Hadrian. In about AD 115, she married Titus Fulvius Antoninus, a respected Senator, and through her connections he became a close advisor to Hadrian. When Hadrian's intended successor, Aelius Caesar, died early in AD 138, the ailing emperor settled on the 52-year-old Antoninus as his replacement. Antoninus succeeded to the throne later that year and Faustina was acclaimed as Augusta, or Empress. Antoninus honored her extensively on the coinage and her vivacity, fashion sense and compassion for the poor made her very popular. Her distinctive hairstyle, with a plait wrapped in a tight coil atop her head, was copied by women throughout the Empire. While the staid Roman historians of later eras criticized her lack of "gravitas," Antoninus was devoted to her. The couple had four children, two sons and two daughters; both male children died in infancy, but the daughters lived to adulthood and one, Faustina the Younger, married Marcus Aurelius and became Augusta herself. Only two years into Antoninus' reign, Faustina died of an unknown illness. The grief-stricken Antoninus secured her deification and issued an immense coinage in her name, the largest for any Roman woman to that point. This magnificent aureus falls into the posthumous series. 

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January, 2014
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