Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Stunning (Unique?) Nilus Aureus

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.12 gm, 6h). NGC Choice AU ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 134-138. HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, bare head of Hadrian left / No legend, Nilus reclining left, half draped, holding cornucopia cradled in right arm, left arm resting on sphinx rearing right; before him, hippopotamus walking right with head raised and mouth open, below, crocodile advancing left amid waves on river embankment. RIC --, cf. 312a (bare head right, Nilus holds reed). BMCRE --, 867 note (same). Calicó --, cf. 1161 (same). Extremely rare, an apparently unrecorded and possibly unique variety of this highly attractive travel issue, the reverse die of extraordinary artistry.

    Hadrian's career of traveling the length and breadth of the Roman Empire culminated in an extended visit to Egypt in AD 130-131, accompanied by a vast entourage that included his wife Sabina and his young protégé and lover, the handsome Bithynian Antinous. During a barge trip up the Nile, Antinous fell overboard and drowned, plunging the emperor into extravagant grief. The incident is shrouded in mystery, with some gossips suggesting that the youth had sacrificed himself in some strange ritual to restore Hadrian's failing health. Whatever the manner of death, Hadrian ordained that Antinous be deified and worshipped as a god, not by the Roman Senate or people, but by the Greek denizens of the Empire who held a more sympathetic view of their emperor's "forbidden love." Hadrian finally returned from his travels in circa 132 and retired to his lavishly decorated villa at Tivoli, where Egypt and the Nile were given special prominence. His famous Travel Series of coins was struck during his final years, perhaps as a personal remembrance of his imperial wanderings. This remarkable aureus, of a variety not recorded in the standard references, boasts an astonishing reverse depiction of the river god Nilus surrounded by the fauna of Egypt, rendered in the highest artistry of the age. Unusually, the reverse bears no legend, leaving the engraver's work to speak for itself.

    View all of [The Golden Gate Collection ]

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  | NGC Coin Grading Guarantee  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    World and Ancient Coin Bibliography

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,130

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 12 days left to consign to the 2018 August 14 - 20 ANA WFOM US Coins Signature Auction - Philadelphia!

    Learn about consigning with us

    When it came to selling my coin collection I decided they were my first and only choice. They never disappoint. Excellent prices when selling through their auctions and you don’t even have to put any reserves on any coins. Simply the biggest company but more importantly the best. Consign with Heritage when you're ready to sell.
    Albert A.,
    Brooklyn, NY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 14 - 17 LB Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach
    2018 June 14 - 17 LB Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach
    REALIZED $18,083,782
    2018 April 20 - 23 CCE World Coins Signature Auction - Chicago
    2018 April 20 - 23 CCE World Coins Signature Auction - Chicago
    REALIZED $8,463,607
    2018 April 26 - 30 CSNS World Currency Signature Auction - Chicago
    2018 April 26 - 30 CSNS World Currency Signature Auction - Chicago
    REALIZED $937,134