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    Exceptionally Rare Diadumenian 'Star' Gold Aureus in Fine Style

    Diadumenian, as Caesar (AD 217-218). AV aureus (19mm, 7.22 gm, 1h). NGC (photo-certificate) Choice AU ★ 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 218. M OPEL ANT DIADVMENIAN CAES, bareheaded, draped and cuirassed bust of Diadumenian right, seen from behind / SPES PVBLICA, Spes walking left, flower upward in right hand, raising folds of her skirt with left. RIC IV, Part II, 115. Calicó 2984a. Extremely well-struck with high-relief obverse from realistic dies of fine style.

    The Hunter Collection (Goldberg Pre-Long Beach Auction, 5 February 2013), lot 4176 (realized $270,000); Michael F. Price Collection (Stack's, 3 December 1996), lot 226; Sotheby Hunt Sale (June 1990), lot 141; Leu 25 (23 April 1980), lot 367; Platt Hall Collection (Glendining's, 1950), lot 1767; Sir Arthur Evans Collection (Ars Classica 3, 1922), lot 106; Karnak find.

    At the tender age of eight, Marcus Opellius Diadumenianus was acclaimed Caesar and heir apparent to his father, Macrinus, who had engineered a coup against the Emperor Caracalla in April, AD 217. Both father and son had accompanied the Roman Army to the eastern frontier to prosecute Caracalla's Parthian war, and so Diadumenian's elevation took place at the Syrian city of Zeugma. At the same time, he was given the additional name Antoninus, Caracalla's formal name, in an attempt to mollify the soldiers and conceal Macrinus's role in his predecessor's murder. By all accounts, Diadumenian was a handsome lad of good character who might have made an excellent ruler had he ever exercised true power. But it was not to be, for Macrinus' regime began to crumble almost immediately. He lingered in the East too many months trying to disengage the army from the Parthian war, and his inadequacies as a general and willingness to negotiate with the enemy soon set the soldiers to grumbling. In May of AD 218, a sizeable legionary force stationed at Emesa in Syria revolted and proclaimed Caracalla's 13-year-old cousin Elagabalus as emperor. Macrinus responded by raising Diadumenian to the rank of Augustus and promising the Praetorian Guard an accession bonus of 20,000 sesterces per man. But the rebel forces were victorious outside the walls of Antioch on June 8, and the rest of Macrinus' army abruptly switched sides. Before fleeing to the north, Macrinus entrusted his son to some loyal officers with instructions to deliver him to the Parthian court for safekeeping. Within a few days, both father and son had been intercepted and summarily executed, bringing their 14-month interlude in the Severan dynasty to an end. 

    This superb aureus was struck in Rome soon after Diadumenian's elevation to the rank of Caesar, perhaps in celebration of his ninth birthday in September, AD 217. The reverse depicts Spes, the Roman personification of Hope. Aurei of Diadumenian are rarely encountered. Probably less than 20 of all types are recorded, making this an important rarity in the series.

    This coin has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail if you would like to utilize this option.

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,574

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