Price Analysis of Roman Imperial Gold

By Joe Jaroch. Forward by Russell Augustin.

It’s quickly becoming evident to savvy market participants the Roman Imperial gold aureii is increasing at a handsome rate. Auction companies both within the United States and Europe are witnessing participation from buyers around the world. We believe this is a rapidly emerging market. The intense demand for the rarer issues is now more preoccupied with the opportunity to acquire a coin rather than showing concern over the price that is paid, for the new price paid then becomes the price associated with the issue. We have reviewed sixteen of the first Caesar aureii and have come to these conclusions:

Julius Caesar (A Hirtius Praetor): Increasing in price about 4%/yr. Damaged/marked pieces are fairly acceptable for this issue and aren’t degraded in price significantly. There appears to be a cap in price on VF pieces as the most appreciation has occurred in XF or better.

Octavian (Augustus): Increasing in price about 12%/yr. Some very rare pieces have come to the market recently which has skewed the overall prices upward. VF prices have increased about 40% faster than the more expensive XF prices (at 16%). There are some anomalies in recent sales due either to a more popular auction (Goldberg vs NAC) or more extended provenance, as a low-VF example recently sold for 2x XF money of exactly the same type.

Tiberius: Increasing in price about 13%/yr, with most of this coming from a recent spike. AU/MS examples come to market far less frequently than the common high-end VF/low XF and are therefore more desirable.

Caligula: At least a 11%/yr increase. Some better-pedigreed examples have increased 25%/yr.

Claudius: Around 9%/yr increase. Near-MS examples have had some fluctuation but rarer, visually appealing varieties (especially Calico 315 and 384) have recently increased 15%/yr over previous sales.

Nero: F/low-VF have decreased in price recently, but XF/AU have increased by about 9%/yr and are accelerating. Calico 400, one of the rarest varieties of Nero, has remained constant in price (ca $50K in XF) in the last few years but the other, less rare varieties are increasing regularly.

Galba: It’s difficult to deduce precisely what’s happening with Galba. A majority of the recent sales have been of extremely high grade examples (all $150K+), which have increased 15%/yr from the few I’ve been able to track back. Less rare examples have increased more modestly at around 4%/yr, but there has been a lack of recent data for non-six-figure examples to make this figure statistically significant.

Otho: “Common”, low-end VF examples with problems have increased about 5%/yr but higher end examples have increased significantly, upwards of 11%/yr. Solid VF/low-XF examples have had a nice spike recently near 20% in the last year, but had been dropping in price at about 6%/yr in 2008.

Vitellius: The split of Vitellius issues by rarity is considerable. The rarest and most expensive ($100K+) have increased at around 10% historically, but recent records show a much higher spike in the last few months. VF examples have moved up slightly less rapidly at about 7%/yr and XF have actually pulled back slightly in the most recent sales, if they aren’t the rarest varieties.

Vespasian: Higher-end pieces are increasing about 13%/yr, with a relatively even spread of existent examples between VF to AU. The premium for high-graded examples is less than most, making XF/AU a solid choice over the more common VF which has increased only around 6%/yr.

Titus: Over the last three years, prices have held almost perfectly constant for Titus, with the finest known pieces increasing about 5%/yr. Some upcoming auctions have estimated prices relatively low for new Titus aurei even in AU and assuming normal low estimates.

Domitian: VF/XF prices have increased about 7%/yr while AU/MS prices have increased around 11%/yr. Some of the rarest varieties have increased 13%/yr. The finest known of all Domitian aurei just sold for $103K last year after being sold for $66K in Nov. 2006.

Nerva: Prices have decreased by about 2%/year since 2009, although there have been a few spikes in the middle of nice examples coming up in price.

Trajan: VF examples have pulled back by about 1%/yr while XF examples have increased by around 8%/yr, although some of this is due to recent spikes.

Hadrian: VF/AU/MS examples have remained largely flat, while XF examples have increased around 3%/yr. Some of the rarest examples had massive growth in 2006-2008 and have not since resurfaced, increasing at almost 40%/yr.

Antoninus Pius: VF examples have increased by only about 1%/yr and some of the more common XF issues have decreased by about 2%/yr, while the less common examples (which make up a majority of what have come to market in the last few years) have increased 14%/yr in XF and 30% in AU/MS.

Summary: Overall, prices were strong from 2006-2007 but relatively weak from 2008-2010. Since 2010, they have begun to increase at a quickly accelerating rate, peaking almost everywhere in 2012. Fine prices have remained constant or fallen against inflation, but VF has increased even with problems for more rare issues. XF is definitely a safe bet for almost every emperor.

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