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№ 1403


6 June 2019

Hammer Price:

Roman Imperial Coinage, Allectus, Aureus, London, imp c allectvs p f avg, laureate and draped bust right, rev. oriens avg, Sol standing left between two captives, right hand raised, holding globe in left hand, m l in exergue, 4.31g (Calicó 4790; RIC 4; Burnett 8, same dies; Shiel 6; Cohen 29 [single captive]; Askew 453; Sear 13780; Spink 683). A few tiny marks on bust and minor scrapes on edge, otherwise about as struck with original colour and reflective fields; a unique opportunity to acquire a stunning and extremely rare issue of this emperor £70,000-£100,000

Provenance: Found near Dover, Kent, adjacent to a Roman road, March 2019

There are only 24 aurei of Allectus known, from 19 different obverse dies; this coin is a die match to that in the British Museum. Gold was initially produced to pay an accession donation in AD 293 but continued to be issued throughout Allectus’s reign. Coins of Carausius and Allectus were probably demonetized after the latter’s death in AD 296, as none are found in later hoards. The reverse legend on this coin of
oriens avg, combined with the sun god Sol, translates as the sun is rising for the emperor.

Allectus is described as the minister of finance, prætorian prefect, ally and co-conspirator under the usurper Carausius. This new independence of Britain was based on a strong naval force of at least two fleets controlling the English Channel and the North Sea. As a result of the loss of Boulogne on 1 March 293 to Constantius Chlorus, it is believed that Carausius was then murdered by Allectus. Little is known from historical records about Allectus: his name in Latin translates as chosen or elected, but his well-produced coinage indicates a smooth transition and the issue of a new denomination, the quinarius or half-antoninianus with a series of war galleys as the reverse design, was certainly innovative. In early 296 Constantius and the prætorian prefect Julius Asclepiodotus sailed in two separate fleets, one from Boulogne, the other from the mouth of the Seine, which slipped past the ships of Allectus waiting by the Isle of Wight (Vectis) in a sea fog. Allectus was defeated in a land battle, probably in Hampshire, by Asclepiodotus and Constantius arrived in London to reclaim Britain.

Only the second found in Kent, and recorded at the British Museum by Sam Moorhead, this is the first available at auction for many years