Augustus Left Facing Portrait on Aureus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by 1934 Wreath Crown, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    Once again demonstrating my deep understanding of ancient coinage :p I ask a very basic question:

    Is the direction of the Emperor's portrait/bust really important to the rarity/scarcity of an ancient coin?

    I noticed that most of the coins of Alexander The Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus etc. have right facing portraits, unlike GB coins where the ruler's portrait generally alternated with every successor.

    Acquired this Aureus recently and although I've seen several examples with a right facing portrait, I've not found any example with a left facing one. Am I safe in assuming it is a rare coin and I should be pleased with my acquisition?!! A keeper then even if its no better than a 'Fine' grade?

    The coin itself shows one of the Emperor's ill-fated grandsons and heir (Gaius) on horseback:

    Augustus AV Aureus. Lugdunum, 8 BC. AVGVSTVS DIVI F, laureate head to left / C•CAES AVGVS•F, Gaius Caesar on horseback, galloping to right, aquila between two legionary standards in background. RIC -; C. 41; Calicó -. 7.80g, 19mm, 6h.
    Augustus Aureus Obv.jpg

    Augustus Aureus Rev.jpg
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    No not really, it doesn't make it rare on its own. The bust direction may be unusual compared to his other issues, but that doesn't mean they didn't strike a load of the left-facing one. A coin with a right-facing bust might be rarer because the issue is rarer. EID MAR has a right-facing bust.

    In the auction, Roma said of your coin there was 'only one other example offered at auction in the past 20 years' - that makes it rare! It's a very nice coin.

    Incidentally, English/British coins only alternated the bust with each ruler after Charles II (whose busts faced in both directions). From William I to Henry VII they were mostly head-on and didn't look like the monarch anyway.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
  4. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    Sorry I wasn't very clear in my OP. I meant to say is that where the bulk of the coins of a particular king/emperor/monarch are struck with a right facing bust then the odd one struck left facing may well be rare and vice-versa.

    I should have also clarified I was referring to modern GB coinage. You are right in saying the older/medieval coinage either had no portrait or the portrait (mostly front facing) bore no resemblance to the monarch. Although side facing portraits were used on several early issues it would appear that side profile portraits became more universal around Elizabeth I's time and front facing portraits gradually began to lose their popularity. With the exception of some gold issues, most of the coinage of the later Tudors appear to have side facing portraits.
  5. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Congrats , perhaps only Fine, but great eye appeal.

    I have this left facing Augustus denarius, for every left facing there are 10 right facing denarii.

    P1190070 aug cor.JPG
  6. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Right-facing busts tend to be much more common on ancient coins, but in most cases--there are a few exceptions--there is not a premium on left-facing busts. Since every ancient coin is unique, rarity doesn't necessarily translate into value.

    Your coin is still an outstanding acquisition, though. Congratulations.
    1934 Wreath Crown likes this.
  7. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Except for the Aurei issued for Nero Claudius Drusus, who is always facing left, all issuers of Roman Imperial gold coins are more common with right facing portraits.
    It is assumed that the uncommon left facing portrait dies were cut only by the best engravers and sometimes reserved for special emissions. Some are indeed extremely rare.
    1934 Wreath Crown likes this.
  8. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Great Aureus, @1934 Wreath Crown !

    I am not sure if Left facing is rare, but sometimes they can be more difficult to find, depending on the series of coin.


    Octavian as Augustus LEFT-Sinister 27 BC–14 AD Quinarius Emerita 25-23 AR 13.5mm 1.79g - P CARISI LEG Victory trophy C 387. RIC 1b SCARCE

    The Left version is harder to find, SO, for good measure I got the RIGHT facing version of the series, also...

    RI Octavian as Augustus 25-23 BCE AR Quinarius RIGHT facing bust Emerita Augusta Sear 1642
  9. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I cannot answer that question, but most Aurei are scarce in numbers. Yours, has great eye appeal:D
  10. KeviniswhoIam

    KeviniswhoIam Well-Known Member

    It's not all that often I see the coin I was outbid on, but I am glad it went to another CT member! Congrats!
    1934 Wreath Crown likes this.
  11. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    You certainly gave me a run for my money. I wasn't expecting to pay as much for it in a relatively subdued auction:)
    KeviniswhoIam and panzerman like this.
  12. KeviniswhoIam

    KeviniswhoIam Well-Known Member

    I go through the catalog, when I see something I like, I bid my max bid.....sat on top a long time with this, but you wanted it more. I am only glad it went to someone who I know treasures it! Not a loss in my book.
    Am currently looking at the next Roma auction, and a certain piece calls to me......
    panzerman likes this.
  13. bartolus07

    bartolus07 New Member

    Nice and important coin. Another specimen, more worn, was recently sold by Busso Peus, 4-5 Nov. 2020, auction 457, lot 372. Anyway, it is certainly a very rare aureus.

    Augustus RIC 198 variant (Busso Peus 457 - 372).jpg

    Here is another example of a very very rare coin of Augustus with the head turned to the left and issued in the Lyon mint: RIC 201b (R4 in RIC), die-linked with the aureus today in Vienna (RIC 200):

    RIC 201b (Augustus Lyon 9-8, ex Campana and ex Sternberg XIII [1983] lot 557).jpg
  14. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    Right-handed people tend to draw faces with the nose to the right; left-handed people prefer the other way round. A die makes an imprint opposite to the original picture. More people are right-handed than left-handed.
    Maybe it's bogus, but this is an explanation I heard over 40 years ago.

    1934 Wreath Crown likes this.
  15. 1934 Wreath Crown

    1934 Wreath Crown Well-Known Member

    Surprised it didn't make estimate for a rare coin. Ancient coin collecting is a strange sport. Rarity does not necessarily translate to value.;)
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page