What is “Boscoreale toning” on a Roman aureus?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Hey guys,

    I don’t know how many of you pay attention to Heritage Auctions but later this month they are auctioning a HUGE collection of Roman, Greek and other ancients of the “Monaco Collection” ranging in value from common coins of $250 all the way to super high end coins of $250,000 (for an XF “Ides of March” denarius of Brutus) and everything in between.

    Anyway I was looking through their listings of Roman aureii from the collection and I came across this Nero aureus that is much more affordable than many of the other aureii listed.

    It currently has an estimate of $2,000-$3000 and Ive always wanted a Roman aureus for my collection so I am considering bidding seriously for it but I noticed it has “boscoreale toning” and I’m not sure what that means?

    I googled “Boscoreale” and apparently it’s a city in Italy.

    Does it mean the coin is from there or something and coins tone differently there?

    Any input or information would be appreciated :) Thanks!

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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  3. RichardT

    RichardT Well-Known Member

  4. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    I've never heard of a "Boscoreale tone". But I don't collect gold coins, so I'm no expert in the subject. Please take everything I say below, with a huge grain of salt.
    I tried 2 things :
    1. I Googled (note the double quotes) the following : "Boscoreale tone"
    2. I did a CoinTalk search for Boscoreale
    Approach 1 wasn't as helpful. However, a lot of the links, mention a reddish tone. I found the following link, which happened to be a CoinTalk link, which may be somewhat helpful.
    Approach 2 seemed more helpful. I found 7 pages of CoinTalk threads, which talk about Boscoreale tone, and Boscoreale coins. It seems to have something to do with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. And there is talk about a "Boscoreale Hoard". And a reddish coloration of gold coins, which is famous because of the Boscoreale Hoard. But perhaps, a similar reddish tone, may be found on other gold coins. Similar to the "Tiber patina", which is found on some bronze coins found in the Tiber River, but may be found on other coins. Here are just a few of the threads :
    1. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/my-first-aureus.333163/#post-3364380
    2. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/di...d-solidus-what-can-it-be.325126/#post-3210537
    3. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/he...1423-joseon-tongbo.380225/page-2#post-7544606
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
  5. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member


    Oh wow that’s crazy it toned from the heat of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

    I would think that adds some real history to it.

    Ive heard of that website before I’m just not sure how to use it to find what I’m looking for.
  6. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    Yes. This looks like a very good piece of information. And it agrees, with some of the info, that I found.
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  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Yeah same. I think it answers everything I wanted to know. I appreciate your input as well though :).

    I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t something bad before I bid on it but to me knowing it toned from the heat of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius only makes me want it more since it adds historical interest.

    Apparently if 1,000 gold aureii were found whoever they belonged to was extremely rich. O_O

    I read somewhere that 1 aureus was nearly a month’s pay.
    sand likes this.
  8. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    For the particular Aureus in the slab in your OP, in which you are interested, it is possible, that the coin is not from the Boscoreale Hoard, and that the coin is not from Mount Vesuvius.
    From what little I read, in the CoinTalk threads, it is possible, that some gold coins, which are described as "Boscoreale tone" gold coins, are not from the Boscoreale Hoard, and therefore not from Mount Vesuvius. Some such gold coins, may merely have a reddish color, for some other reason.
    However, I'm not an expert in the subject, and I barely just started looking into this.
    I recommend reading through the various CoinTalk threads, to see if this is true.
    Or maybe someone, with more knowledge about this subject, can shed some light on this question.
    I agree, that if the coin really was buried near Mount Vesuvius, and colored red by the heat of the eruption, then that would have immense historical significance.
    And 1,000 Aurei would have been a huge sum of money.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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  9. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    The Boscoreale Hoard is a hoard found at a site of a villa rustica in 1895. This structure was used for the production of things like wine and olive oil. The hoard of at least 1000 aureii was buried as the result of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. Though the hoard was unearthed in 1895 the first attempt to record the contents of the hoard did not occur until 1909 in Paris. As near as I can tell this article was not illustrated. According to this list coins issued from the reign of Augustus to that of Vespasian with Titus and Domitian as Caesars are known. The coins from this hoard should exhibit a typical reddish brown discoloration which is very distinctive. The reason for this, is that these coins would have been subjected to very intense heat created by the pyroclastic cloud that was generated during the eruption.
    Map of the region around Pompei Picture1.png
    An artist impression of the villa rustica at Boscoreale
    VillaRusticaBoscoreale2.jpg I believe the hoard was found in the area of room 7
    Aureus of Nero featuring typical Boscoreale hoard dicoloration 66-67 AD Obv Head of Nero laureate right Rv Jupiter seated left RIC 63 7.33 grams 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen neroav2.jpg According to the list created in 1909 something like 212 Aureii of this type are recorded as coming from the hoard. This would indicate that something like 20% of the coins found were of this type. However it cannot be emphasized enough that there is no real empirical evidence that any of these coins came out of that famous hoard and it is true that there are gold coins that clearly could not come from this hoard that may have a bit of that toning. However given the evidence that we do have it is very likely that the vast majority of them do.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Paging @AncientJoe! Sending up the bat-signal!

    C’mon, Joe. Show ‘em off. You know the ones. ;)
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    Good luck with that, @Gam3rBlake. Given the current market, I doubt it'll hammer for anywhere close to the estimate.
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  12. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine has a number of Boscoreale aureii. He recalls and will regale us with stories about bidding on each one.

    There is a huge market premium on coins with this tone. It is as if there is a "Boscoreale club", and only the owners of these aureii are members. I have none.
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  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    My guess: at least 5x the estimate.
  14. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    FWIW, from searching on Heritage's site, the last boscoreale Nero they sold was in 2014 for $7k. That type was different, but IMHO the coin for sale has a much better tone and details.

    They currently have five boscoreale coins listed, including a Vitellius. Of the five, only with the Vitellius do they say "almost certainly from the Boscoreale hoard of 1894." With the others, I think they're being cautious by saying that it has the right toning but there's nothing in the provenance to say with certainty it came from there.

    CNG has sold five Nero boscoreale coins since 2020. One went low at $4k, while the others went from $7k to $9.5k.

    I expect this coin to go within that range.
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  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    The membership dues are pretty darned steep. :greedy:

    At best, they might let me work as a dishwasher in the kitchen at the Boscoreale Club.
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  16. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    I had one once that exhibited that type of toning and was period correct, but no way of knowing if it was indeed from the Boscoreale hoard. Long since sold.

    Nero Aureus.jpg
  17. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    That Nero in the first post used to be my coin; I sold it privately to the "Monaco Collection" collector as the flan flaw and poor centering were enough to outweigh the sentimental attachment (it was my first aureus but not quite nice enough for where my collection has evolved).

    I do love Boscoreale aurei and while there isn't a census from the 1895 discovery, it's usually pretty evident if a coin has the right toning as well as a solid intervening pedigree.

    Here are my two current examples, each with a ~70+ year pedigree (Biaggi collection, among others) on top of stark toning:

    Niccolo, Carthago, jdmKY and 21 others like this.
  18. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Hehe well I guess I’ll put up a $3K bid and if I’m lucky I’ll be surprised xD
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  19. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    I perused this auction fairly closely and have some of the "Non-featured" coins on the watch list, but this "Boscoreale" detail escaped my attention (probably because I tend to ignore aureii).

    I actually watched a Youtube video within the last couple of weeks that mentioned this hoard and talked about the toning, which I found really interesting. You bringing this coin to my attention has really peaked my interest!

    No need to worry though, even the estimate is beyond what I should rationally be spending on a coin :inpain:. Gotta be careful though, there are some in these forums with deeper pockets :greedy:
    Gam3rBlake likes this.
  20. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    The Bat signal worked! :woot:
  21. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Nice! I’ve always wanted a coin with Romulus & Remus suckling from the she-wolf on it!
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