The official Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction for the ANA World’s Fair of Money is nearly here, and we have a final ancient coin to preview -- a historically significant piece and a terrific rarity. This piece is deserving of a word not often thrown around in numismatics: unique. The Solidus described here is truly one of a kind. This coin was produced in the Arles Mint (southern France) during the reign of the Western Roman Emperor Honorius. During a period of substantial decline, Honorius managed to exacerbate the erosion of Roman power and influence. Widely considered an unfit ruler, he was thrust into power at a young age and as such relied heavily on his principal general, Stilicho. After Stilicho’s execution by a power-hungry minister, the army formerly under Stilicho’s control defected en-masse to the Visigoth horde preparing to invade Italy. Led by their king Alaric, the Visigoths laid siege to Rome. Honorius, now lacking an able general to marshal the culturally diverse Roman armies, believed he could wait passively for the Visigoths to tire themselves outside the gates of Rome while his reinforcements arrived from distant provinces. Unfortunately, the starvation inflicted on the Roman populace coerced them to open the gates to Alaric. This event marked the first time Rome was under the control of an invading foreign force since an invasion of Gauls over eight centuries earlier. Thankfully the damage to the city was mild, although the psychological blow to Roman power was substantial. The coin features a pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Honorius facing right, with the legend: “D N HONORI – VS” around. The reverse shows a triumphant Honorius in military attire, in his left hand he holds a globe, surmounted by the deity Victory. In his right hand, he holds a labarum while his left foot pins down a bound captive. Some scratches are present though overall this singular example retains a wholesome and attractive nature.
Look for this and other ancient numismatic rarities in our upcoming August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at www.StacksBowers.com. Though our Stack’s Bowers August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is no longer open for further consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our November Baltimore Auction and the January New York International Auction, as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our December 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.