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ACTA ACCLA, November 2006


Becker Counterfeit Denarius of Pompey The Great
Photograph by Michael J. Connor.
 Click on image for an enlarged view.

Carl Wilhelm Becker (1772-1830) was a highly talented engraver who produced rare coins for sale in the antiquities trade. The coin illustrated is struck in silver and is an imitation of a coin that was actually struck in gold and features Sextus Pompey (executed in 35 BCE) on the obverse with busts of his father and brother on the reverse. The original coin is a gold aureus, Sear RCV 1387, RRC 511/1, CRI 332, BMCRR Sicily 13. An example gold aureus from the Triton X auction is shown below.  Obverse: bare head of Sextus Pompey right, around MAG PIUS IMP ITER, all within an oak wreath. Reverse: confronted bare heads of Pompey the Great right and Gnaeus Pompey Junior left, lituus in field on left, tripod to right, PRAEF CLAS ET ORAE MARIT EX S C all within a beaded border.



Very Aureus of Sextus Pompey

Photograph & Description Reproduced With Permission Courtesy of CNG.
Click on image for an enlarged view.


Sextus Pompey. 42 BC. AV Aureus (8.17 g, 8h). Mint in Sicily. MAG. PIVS. IMP. ITER., bare head of Sextus Pompey right; all within oak wreath / PRÆF CLAS. ET. ORÆ MARIT. EX. S.C, bare heads of Pompey the Great right vis-à-vis Cnaeus Pompey Junior left; lituus to left, tripod to right. Crawford 511/1; CRI 332; Sydenham 1346A (same dies, but reverse legend misread); Kestner -; BMCRR p. 561, 14 (same dies); Bahrfeldt 87.1 (same dies, but reverse legend misread); Calicó 71; Kent & Hirmer 102; Vagi 28 (same dies as illustration); J. Evans, “The Sicilian Coinage of Sextus Pompeius (Crawford 511),” MN 32 (1987), pl. 9, 2 (same obv. die). EF, underlying lustre, obverse struck slightly off center. Wonderful portraits. Very rare: In 1987 Evans was able to record 37 specimens, of which 12 were in museums.

This coin is struck from the same dies as LHS 97 (10 May 2006), lot 1; Leu 93 (10 May 2005), lot 2; and Leu 86 (5 May 2003), lot 726. Sextus Pompey, the younger son of Pompey the Great, inherited his father's vast influence and personal following. He first established himself in Spain in 44 BC as the successful leader of the anti-Caesarian forces and following the death of Caesar, the Senate, believing itself freed from the domination of the Caesarians, bestowed on Sextus the title of praefectus classis et orae maritimae (Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet and of the Sea Coasts). However, four months later the Senate was forced by Octavian and the second triumvirate to rescind this title, and Sextus was proscribed. Upon receiving word of the Senate's abrogation of his commission and seeing the hostilities the Caesarians were exacting on the leading figures in Rome, Sextus set sail from Massilia in Gaul and headed for Sicily. Here he established a powerful base from which he could blockade Italy and provide a safe haven for those fleeing the proscriptions. Alarmed at the developments, Octavian sent a naval squadron under the command of Salvidienus Rufus to handle the situation, but Salvidienus was defeated off the coast of Rhegium. Following this battle, Sextus took the title of imperator iterum. Sextus would continue the republican struggle against the second triumvirate until his death in 36 BC. This remarkable dynastic aureus provides us with the most life-like portraits of Pompey's two sons and records many of the events of 43-42 BC. The oak wreath (corona civica quindecimviri sacris faciundis.  The coin is Triton X, Lot: 547. Estimate $75000.

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