AUGUSTUS GOLD AUREUS – SPECTACULAR CAPRICORN TYPE EX OPERA LEGEND ENRICO CARUSO AND VICTOR ADDA COLLECTIONS WITH 1911 PROVENANCE- AU NGC GRADED ROMAN IMPERIAL COIN (Inv. 13634)
ROMAN EMPIRE. AUGUSTUS, 27 BC- AD 14.
Gold Aureus, 7.84 g, 20 mm. Issue of a Spanish mint, ca. 18-17 BC.
Obv. Bare head of Augustus right.
Rev. AVGVSTVS, Capricorn right, holding globe, rudder and cornucopia.
RIC I rev, 25; Calicó 164 (this coin listed and illustrated); Adda 7 (this coin, see also page 25 where the manuscript page listing this coin is illustrated); Bahrfeldt 114.
Published: Adda 7 (this coin listed and illustrated later in the volume on the reproduction of the Christie’s catalogue where the Adda collection was sold); Calicó, 164 (this coin listed and illustrated).
Ex Enrico Caruso and Victor Adda collections, NAC 101, 10/24/2017, lot 73 = Sotheby’s 3/7/1996, lot 148 = Christie’s 10/9/1984 (“Property of a Lady”), lot 2 = Canessa, 6/28/1923, lot 149 = Hirsch XXX, 11 May 1911, lot 862.
NGC graded AU, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5, “marks”, the Caruso and Hirsch XXX provenances noted. This coin’s previous owners include the legendary Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso and Victor Adda, a businessman and noted collector who donated part of his collection to the Israel Museum.
The Capricorn is among the most fascinating of the numerous images that appear on Augustus’ coinage. Promoted as the emperor’s astrological sign, it is mentioned by the Roman biographer Suetonius, author of the Twelve Caesars. Suetonius writes: “From this moment (when an astrologer acknowledged Augustus’ greatness after reading his horoscope) he had such great faith in his own destiny that he made public his horoscope and later minted a silver coin with the Zodiac sign Capricorn, under which he was born” (Suetonius, Augustus, 94, as cited in Zanker’s The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, p. 48). On the aureii above the Capricorn holds a globe and a rudder, symbols of Augustus’ power over land and sea, while the cornucopia perched on its back alludes to the prosperity coming to the Roman world under the emperor’s rule.
Published: Vilmar Numismatics, Fixed Price List I, lot 105.