As one of the largest surviving Roman gold medallions, this piece is one of only two known.
circa 308 CE Eight-Aureus Gold Medallion
On April 5, 2011, the auction fast Numismatica Ars Classica sold a rare Roman gold aurei decoration, which established what auction officials claimed was a modern world record price. The Auction which took space in Switzerland was Auction # 58-58 .
The Gold Medallion, draw # 1164, depicts Roman emperor Maxentius and sold for $ 1,407,550 U.S. ( 1.3 million swiss francs ) .
Description from the NAC Auction catelog:
Of the highest rarity, by far the finest of only two specimens known. One of the largest gold medallions to have survived, bearing a brilliant portrayal and a finely detail reverse constitution. Good extremely very well
The recently third hundred was not a promise clock for the city of Rome. Its traditional role as capital of the empire was slowly eroding due to the changing nature of war and politics. Greater power was being concentrated in the provinces as the want for protection increased along the borders. Money and resources of every kind were diverted to these front man lines of Roman defense mechanism .
As this transformation took place, the great city of Rome became less critical to the functioning of the empire. Emperors were routinely crowned in the provinces, and if they had the luxury of meter, they would visit the senate in Rome for ratification, despite the inability of the senate to oppose them in any case.
The capital was losing its relevance and its luster, and in the difficult economic times of the Tetrarchy, it was destined to lose some of its traditional privileges, including special tax exemptions, rent and food subsidies, and lavish entertainments, all supported at the expense of citizens empire-wide .
This was the environment in which Maxentius, the son of the former emperor Maximianus, staged his rebellion. He styled himself a democrat drawing card who would protect the special interests of the capital, and in doing so would turn back the hand of time to when Rome was a place of privilege. His coinage reflects these platforms, adding to it a smell of antique nobility by promoting his syndicate ties to the Herculian dynasty that had been founded by his father.
The gold medallion offered here is among the largest to survive, weighing eight aurei, and was character of hoard no doubt intended for distribution to Maxentius ’ military officers. High-profile items like this were a perfective medium for reinforcing his ideals among the men who were in the best place to support or to betray him .
The patriotic reverse represents Maxentius as the one charged by Roma herself to deliver the capital from the degradations threatened by Galerius. The inscription “ to Eternal Rome, defender of our emperor butterfly ” speaks volumes of how Maxentius presented his shell for sustaining the rebellion. On the obverse, Maxentius portrays himself bareheaded at a clock time when all of his contemporaries are crowned, and on the rearward he wears the vest of a senator. Every aspect of this must have been cautiously considered in the hope that the recipient of this decoration would be assured that Maxentius did not rule as a tyrant, but humbly, and at the behest of Roma herself .