Extremely Rare Augustus Sphinx AureusAugustus (27 BC-AD 14). AV aureus (8.00 gm). Pergamum, 19-18 BC. AVGVSTVS, bare head of Augustus right / No legend, lactating sphinx seated right. Cf. RIC 52 (obverse misdescribed, but see plate 9). BMCRE 682 (plate 17, 3). CBN pl. XXXVIII, e-f. Calico 156 (R5!). Cohen 333. Struck on a broad flan with a sensitive portrait. A few surface marks, otherwise good very fine.
This handsome Eastern aureus is usually attributed on stylistic grounds to the important mint city of Pergamum in Asia Minor, circa 19-18 BC, during Augustus' tour of the east. The striking anepigraphic reverse type depicts the sphinx, a mythological Egyptian creature, sometimes winged (as seen here), with a human head and leonine body. This image was initially used by Augustus as his personal signet, but was later replaced with the head of Alexander the Great because of the sphinx's association with Egypt, and hence Cleopatra.
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