Gallienus. A.D. 253-268. AV heavy aureus (3.99 g, 6). Rome, A.D. 265. GALLIENVS P F AVG, head of Gallienus to left, wearing wreath of grain leaves and with slight drapery on his far shoulder / VICTORIA AVG, Gallienus, in military dress and holding a globe in his right hand and a transverse scepter in his left, standing left, crowned by Victory, to his right, standing left, holding a wreath over his head with her right hand and a palm branch in her left. RIC 81; Biaggi 1479; Göbl 692e (this coin); H. Huvelin and J. Lafaurie, "Trésor d’un navire romain trouvé en Méditerranée nouvelles découvertes," RN 1980, 9 (this coin); Cohen 1112. Unusually nice and with a splendid portrait. Extremely fine. Rare.
Ex Leu 87 (6 May 2003), 81. Realized CHF 14,000 on an estimate of CHF 10,000. Purchased privately, and from the Corsica Hoard of 1957.
The exceptional portrait on this rare issue (coins bearing this special portrait were struck in a wide variety of weights, including aurei, heavy aurei and medallions going all the way up to a unique piece of 8 aurei, weighing 29.67 g), refers to Gallienus’ initiation into the rites of Demeter at Eleusis. We know that Gallienus spent at least a month in Athens in late 264, that he was made archon, and that his visit sparked a massive issue of Athenian bronze coins, designed primarily to pay for the construction of defenses against the Gothic threat (the city was sacked by the Herulians in 267), so there seems no reason do doubt his interest in the ancient traditions, both political and religious, of Attica. For the latest discussion of this type, refuting the view that the wreath was of reeds and refers to a naval victory (reeds have nothing to do with Eleusis in any case), see Bastien, Buste pp. 123-127.