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    Magnificent Anthemius Solidus

    Anthemius, Western Roman Emperor (AD 467-472). AV solidus (22mm, 4.50 gm, 6h).  Rome, AD 467-472. D N ANTHE-MIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, helmeted and cuirassed bust facing, head slightly right, holding spear over right shoulder / SALVS R-EI-PVBLICAE, the emperors Anthemius and Leo standing facing in military dress, holding between them the globus cruciger, RM monogram and ? below, COMOB in exergue. RIC X 2831. Lacam pl. CXIII, var. 2. DOC 925 (same dies). Very rare, particularly so in this high grade! Minor obverse die rust, otherwise well struck and virtually flawless, among the finest specimens known for this ephemeral ruler. Light reddish toning. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 4/5 - 5/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Neil S. Phillips Collection (Spink London, 7-9 October 1997), lot 439. 

    The short, troubled reign of Procopius Anthemius represents the Roman world's last chance at unity in the face of the disasters that would shortly overwhelm its western half. Born into a distinguished and wealthy Constantinopolitan family, Anthemius was highly regarded as a general and magistrate, and had been considered a prime candidate for the East Roman throne when his father-in-law, the emperor Marcian, died in AD 457. Instead, Leo I got the job, but Anthemius took the setback in stride and won a series of military victories over the Goths and Huns on Leo's behalf. In the mid AD 460s, Vandal raids on Greece convinced Leo that he needed to cooperate with the West Roman regime headed by the half-barbarian generalissimo Ricimer. In AD 467, with Ricimer's approval, Leo appointed Anthemius to the vacant western throne. Anthemius reached Rome on April 12 and was duly hailed as Augustus by the Senate, but many Italians viewed him as a Greek interloper and this colored his relations with the locals from the outset. In AD 468, a massive joint naval expedition against the Vandals in North Africa came to grief, badly undermining Anthemius' position. Visigothic gains in Gaul further eroded his popularity over the next few years and caused a dangerous rift to develop between Anthemius, who ruled from Rome, and Ricimer, based in Milan. Leo tried to mediate by sending a highborn envoy named Olybrius to Italy in the spring of AD 472, but Ricimer decided Olybrius would prove a more pliable puppet emperor and marched against Rome to depose Anthemius. Rome underwent a three-month siege and finally fell to a determined attack on the Pons Aelius. Anhemius donned the garb of a beggar and tried to escape, but was identified, captured and beheaded, probably on July 11, AD 472. Olybrius replaced him but survived only a few months before dying of dropsy. The brief, disastrous civil war made a final split with the East inevitable and sealed the doom of West Roman Empire. 

    The gold coinage of Anthemius reflects his origins by following the convention for frontal portraiture found on East Roman and later Byzantine coins. The reverse of this incredible Rome-mint gold solidus celebrates the supposed unity of East and West empires by showing Anthemius and Leo together supporting a long cross, on which rests, according to the legend, the "Health of the Republic."

    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
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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