[LONDON, ENGLAND] Earlier this year, a young metal detectorist came across a small 24-karat gold coin. It recently sold at auction for $700,000.
The 1,700-year-old Roman aureus depicts the face of Allectus, a Roman British finance minister who usurped the crown by murdering Carausius, the sitting emperor. It was estimated to sell for between $90,000 and $127,000 at Dix Noonan Webb. Warring bidders drove the price up, and an unidentified collector placed the final bid by telephone.
“This is the most expensive coin that we have ever sold at Dix Noonan Webb,” said Christopher Webb, director of the house’s coin department, in a statement. “As well as being one of the world’s most expensive Roman coins, it is the most money ever paid for a coin of Allectus and it is now the most valuable Roman coin minted in Britain to have been sold at auction.”
Only 24 such coins exist in the world, while the sole other example cast from the same dies belongs to the British Museum.
The museum assisted in authenticating the coin after it was uncovered in a freshly plowed field abutting an old Roman road near Dover, Kent. The anonymous man who discovered it had searched the field on several occasions before, coming up empty-handed each time. The last time he tried, he discovered the aureus after just 45 minutes.
“I cannot believe it, we are ecstatic!” the man said in the auction house’s statement. “We expected it to sell for a little over estimate, but not five times the estimate!”
The proceeds from the sale will be split between the finder and the landowner.
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