The aureus, dating from the brief reign of Allectus (AD293-296), sold to a private collector on the phone at the June 6 sale.
Little is known about Allectus (his name in Latin translates simply as chosen or elected) but he was treasurer to Carausius, an officer in the Roman navy who seized power in Britain and northern Gaul in 283.
Allectus celebrated the new ‘independence’ of Britain by assassinating Carausius and assumed command himself, governing a rebel empire through two fleets controlling the Channel and the North Sea. Constantius launched an invasion to depose him in September 296 that left Allectus dead on a battlefield, probably at Silchester.
Offered with a £70,000-100,000 estimate, the buyer fought off competition in the room, on the internet and on the phone.
The £460,000 hammer price (the finder will share the proceeds with the landowner) is the highest price for a coin sold by DNW. Five years ago (September 2014) the auction house sold one of only 22 examples of the ‘heifer-reverse’ aureus minted during the reign of Augustus for a hammer price of £400,000.
Christopher Webb, director and head of DNW’s coin department, said: “This is the most expensive coin that we have ever sold at Dix Noonan Webb… It is the most valuable Roman coin minted in Britain to have been sold at auction.”