Antoninianus of Allectus

Ben Lamb said he found this coin only recently. He reported it to his local FLO, who recorded on the PAS database. It’s a base metal antoninianus of Allectus, who was the right-hand man of Carausius. However, he turned traitor and murdered his boss in AD 293. On the obverse the legend reads IMP C ALLECTVS AVG around the head of the man who became emperor after the death of Carausius. The reverse has been struck well off centre. If all the detail was visible then the legend would read LAETITIA AVG. The central figure is Laetitia, who holds a wreath and an anchor. She is flanked by S A and beneath the ground line on which she stands is a letter C.

Previous auction lots

Dix Noonan Webb sold a couple of similar coins on 25 April 2018. The sale catalogue descriptions were as follows: Lot 105, Allectus antoninianus, C mint, LAETIT legend on reverse, Laetitia flanked by S P, good VF, hammer price £220; lot 106, Allectus antoninianus, C mint, LAETITIA legend on reverse, Laetitia flanked by S P, about EF, hammer price £110. Lot 106 had less wear but lot 105 had far more eye appeal. The difference between the two Dix Noonan Webb types and Ben’s coin is minimal.

Unique variety

However, his find has been confirmed by Sam Moorhead (curator in the British Museum) as the only specimen known with the combination of characteristics described above. Ben said that if he British Museum was interested then he would be willing to donate the coin to them. However, before he could do so he would need the landowner to be in agreement. As much might depend on the possible value of the coin, Ben asked if I could let him have a valuation.

Valuation

Well, at this moment in time the coin is unique but the difference between it and a couple of other very similar varieties is minimal. However, albeit that it’s a minor variety, a keen collector would be willing to add a premium simply because it is the only known specimen. I have not seen the actual coin – just enlargements. These tend to make small faults look worse than they actually are.

I’ve seen far worse coins of Allectus but this one certainly isn’t as good as the two specimens sold by Dix Noonan Webb. Ben’s coin is unique, which is a significant plus point. However, its overall state of preservation does leave something to be desired. After weighing up the pros and cons, if I was asked to catalogue this coin for sale at auction I would set the pre-sale estimate at £120-150 . I would expect the hammer price to be with that range.

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