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Inexpensive Sulla Portrait Denarius: What do you think?


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Hello all! I recently picked this coin up for a relatively low price:



The significance of this type is described by David Sear:

"The moneyer here honours his two grandfathers, coincidentally both consul in the same year (88 BC). This type provides us with the only authentic portrait of the famous dictator to survive from antiquity. Harlan believes the issue should be dated earlier, to circa 58 BC."   (Roman Coins and Their Values Vol. I, Millenium Edition, p.149)

The price was low enough (about $70) that I felt safe buying it even though it is not in the best condition, lightish in weight (though of course, it is heavily worn on a small flan), and has got some weird two-tone surface going on (especially noticeable on the reverse).

So...what do you think of the coin? Is it just a worn but legit example? Been tampered with? Not worth the price paid? Basically I want to know if I got an okay deal, or just made a dumb mistake. 😉 

Thanks for your input and comments!


Edited by CPK
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Incredible coin @CPK! Solid portrait as well. You can even see his silly forehead!

Here's the rich kid turned sex fiend, sociopathic, highly skilled diplomat, general, dictator, mass murderer, did I mention sex fiend? That really was the first emperor of Rome driving the quadriga:


Another from his grandson


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Thanks everyone! I am pleased to have been able to (unexpectedly) acquire the type - I noticed it first just browsing an auction - placed a lowish bid and won. 🙂 

This makes the second Sulla-related coin I have, the other being the more common and less expensive military issue under L. Manlius Torquatus - also purchased somewhat unexpectedly with a low bid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A good deal on an important coin, and of course another issue is that it has been bought by someone who appreciates it and it now has the provenance of more erudite collectors than the likes of me. Had I seen this coin, my thought pattern would be it must be genuine given size and weight and who would go to the trouble of introducing such wear to deceive on something that would attract attention. I think you have done well and worth every penny. I have a similar condition Pompey I am pleased with because it "ticked the box" for the issue for me and I did not want to pay for a better example.

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