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    High-Relief Hadrian Portrait

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.18 gm, 6h).  Rome, AD 119-122. IMP CAESAR TRAI-ANVS HADRIANVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Hadrian right, seen from front / P M TR P COS III, Libertas seated left, holding laurel branch in right hand and scepter in left, LIB PVB in exergue. RIC 127c. BMCRE 281. Cohen 902. Calicó 1284 (this coin illustrated). A handsome aureus with a powerful portrait in extreme high relief. NGC (photo-certificate) Choice XF 5/5 - 2/5, Fine Style.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex McLendon Collection (Christie's New York, 12 June 1993), lot 124. 

    The reign of Publius Aelius Hadrianus did much to transform the Roman Empire from a supreme city imposing its will on subject peoples into a true commonwealth of nations. Hadrian was born in Rome in AD 76, the son of a distinguished Spanish senator and related through his mother to the future Emperor Trajan, who took him into his household when Hadrian was nine years old. After Trajan's accession, Hadrian held a series of civilian posts, including a consulship in AD 108, and commanded legions during the Dacian and Parthian wars. As the protogé of the emperor, Hadrian seemed marked out for the succession, but he was not formally adopted until Trajan lay on his deathbed in August, AD 117. The transition proved rough, and four distinguished ex-consuls were summarily executed for plotting a coup. Relations with the Senate remained strained throughout the reign. Hadrian abandoned many of Trajan's over-ambitious conquests and engaged in a policy of peace abroad and reform at home. He spent most of his 21-year reign traveling, visiting every province of the Roman Empire. His building projects were many and long-lasting, including Hadrian's Wall in northern Britain and the Pantheon in Rome. Under his patronage, Roman art and sculpture reached its creative peak. A serious revolt in Judaea two years later further darkened Hadrian's waning years. His first choice for the succession, Aelius Caesar, died of consumption shortly after being named, but Hadrian rebounded by appointing the respected senator Antoninus Pius as Caesar and, in turn, arranging for him to adopt the young Marcus Aurelius, thus ensuring the Empire would be in good hands for two generations. Further executions were needed to ensure these arrangements and Hadrian died in January, AD 138 "hated by all," according to one biographer. The judgment of history has been far different, ranking him among Rome's greatest rulers.

    This gold aureus was struck early in Hadrian's reign and its military-style portrait deliberately evokes his predecessor, Trajan. The reverse image of Libertas is likely intended to reassure the Roman public of his commitment to constitutional rule and individual liberty. 

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.




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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
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