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    Description

    Hadrian's Famous Beard

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.05 gm, 6h). NGC Choice XF ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style.  Rome, AD 125-128. HADRIANVS-AVGVSTVS, laureate bust of Hadrian right, drapery on far shoulder / COS-III, Hadrian riding horse at a trot to right, raising right hand. RIC II 186. Strack 146. BMCRE 430-2. Cohen 406 variant (reverse legend break). Calicó 1215a. An uncommonly handsome aureus, with a marvelous large head of Hadrian in superb style, the relief accentuated by attractive light reddish toning in the fields and recesses.

    Ex Golden Gate Collection (Heritage Auctions ANA 3056, 3 August 2017), lot 30017 (realized $12,925).

    This bold portrait displays to good effect Hadrian's famous beard, which was a notable departure from the tradition of clean-shaven Roman rulers. Previous Roman emperors were sometimes depicted on their coins with a scruffy light growth along the jaw line; these instances likely represented a "mourning beard" worn after the death of someone in the Imperial family. Hadrian was the first emperor to sport a full, heavy beard, albeit carefully trimmed. Roman historians present two reasons for his facial hair: (1) to hide unsightly pockmarks on his cheeks resulting from a childhood illness, (2) to show his sympathy with Greek philosophers, traditionally shown as bearded. Whatever his reasons for growing it, Hadrian's beard kicked off a fashion trend for Roman emperors that lasted nearly two centuries, until Constantine the Great brought shaving back into favor.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2018
    6th-11th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
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