Lotto 255: Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). AE Tessera, time of Tiberius. D/ Radiate head of Augustus left, within linear border. R/ XI within pearl border and wreath. Buttrey, NC 13, 1973 S. 61. Pl. B 9 XI. AE. g. 4.05 mm. 20.00 R. Rare. Golden brown patina with orichalcum highlights. Uncleaned black deposits and reddish spot on reverse. Minor roughness, otherwise about EF. For centuries, numismatists have been puzzled by a curious series of bronze tokens bearing on their reverse numerals from I to XVI. The obverse types on these tokens vary dramatically, bearing not only portraits of Augustus, Tiberius, and Livia, but also various erotic scenes, heterosexual and (possibly) homosexual, or bigas, maenads, capricorns, and other scattered mythological figures. The most prominent theories suggest that they were tickets for entrance to the theater or the games, and the numerals represented sections in the stands, or that they were brothel tokens, with the obverse representing a chosen “product” and the reverse the price. However, both of these theories seem unlikely when one considers that the two seemingly divergent themes are joined by die links to the numeral reverses.(CNG 403785 note).
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