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New acquisition with a great provenance.


Michael Stolt

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I won this gorgeous sestertius of Lucilla at the CNG e-sale that ended yesterday.

The reason for pursuing it, although not listed with a pre World War II provenance, is of course because I found one 🙂

This time we are taken back to 1922 when the combined sale of the collections of Paul Vautier and Prof. Maxime Collignon was held, by Naville & Cie in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lucilla. Æ Sestertius (29mm 29.26 g). Rome, AD 164-167. LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust to right. / HILARITAS, Hilaritas standing to left holding long palm and cornucopiae; S-C across fields. RIC III 1742 (Aurelius).

Ex. Paul Vautier/Maxime Collignon collections, Ars Classica II - Naville & Cie, Lucerne (12-14 June 1922), lot 1008.

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Edited by Michael Stolt
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What a great coin and great provenance! I'd feel confident that there is more to find, in terms of intermediate collections/sales and/or publications referencing/illustrating the coin.

It's always such a pleasure to have a coin that was included in one of Jacob Hirsch's Ars Classica auctions!

One of my first "old collection" discoveries was from the prior sale, Ars Classica I (Pozzi). It's a coin I show all the time, as it has a lot of sentimental value, being one of my first coins, bought it in the early 1990s when I was 12. I only found the provenance years later when I started reviewing the Ars Classica catalogs:

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All 18 of Ars Classica sales (held 1921-1938) can be found online. @rNumis gives links for all of them: https://www.rnumis.com/house_auctions.php?house=ARS

I think a lot of people see them as the most important series of auction catalogs ever produced. They were the first to fully photograph and (people forget about this part) give weights and diameters for virtually every coin. And give detailed references and, in many cases, prior provenance info and biographical intros.

One of my longest-term collecting goals (only a little bit unrealistic) would be to have one coin from all 17 Ars Classica sales of ancient coins. (Ars Classica IX was de Sartiges' Swiss coins, no ancient.) So far I have 3 catalogs checked off (Ars Classica I - Pozzi [x2], VII - Bement, and XV - Warren). Four coins. All Greek so far. (And I've got a few of the actual physical catalogs -- VII, VIII, XV; no Ars Classica I, but the 1979 S. Boutin catalog of Pozzi's European coins.)

I'd love to have anything from Vautier-Collignon, especially such a lovely Sestertius! I've reviewed the plates of that catalog many times.

  

36 minutes ago, CPK said:

ding at 12 o'clock on the reverse, and the gouge at the top of the palm branch

While that's plausible, I also wouldn't be surprised if those were just flaws in the plaster cast used for the photos. (Since the Naville Ars Classica catalogs didn't photograph the coins directly, which didn't become the custom in Europe until much later in the 20th century.) Usually the casts were pretty faithful to the actual appearance, but I have several coins for which there were visible flaws in the plaster casts.

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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52 minutes ago, CPK said:

Interesting! Has it been repaired at all, do you think? Looking particularly at the ding at 12 o'clock on the reverse, and the gouge at the top of the palm branch.

I think the visible damage might be to the plaster cast of the coin that was photographed and not damage to the actual coin. Hard to tell without the coin in hand, but makes little sense to me to repair one part of the coin, but not another, like the dent below the obverse bust, and the scrape mark starting on her upper lip that have not been touched.

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Wonderful addition @Michael Stolt. I have only one coin of Lucilla, a sestertius. It also has a decent pedigree, though not as old as yours. I've included the Sternberg plate below.

Lucilla (Augusta, AD 164-182/183) 

RomanImperial_Lucilla_Sestertius_Pietas.jpg.d24dbd1accc9abdb2ab8e00ae4ce9bdb.jpg

AE Sestertius (33mm, 28.99 g). Rome mint. AD 164-169. LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust of Lucilla right, seen from front, hair in waves and coiled up in chignon at back of head / PIETAS, Pietas, draped, standing facing, diademed and veiled head left, dropping incense from right hand into lighted altar at feet, holding box of incense in left. RIC III (Marcus Aurelius) 1756.

Ex Heritage Auctions World & Ancient Coins Signature Auction #3093 (29 October 2021), lot 31139; Heritage Auctions Auction 3061 NYINC (7 January 2018), lot 29396; Numismatica Ars Classica Auctions 97 & 98 (12 December 2016), lot 336; Hess-Divo Auction 321 (25 October 2012), lot 267; Frank Sternberg Auction 5 (28 November 1975), lot 124.

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3 hours ago, Michael Stolt said:

I think the visible damage might be to the plaster cast of the coin that was photographed and not damage to the actual coin. Hard to tell without the coin in hand, but makes little sense to me to repair one part of the coin, but not another, like the dent below the obverse bust, and the scrape mark starting on her upper lip that have not been touched.

Ah, that makes sense!

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