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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ HistoryView Options:  |  |  |   

Collecting History through Ancient Coins

Holding an ancient coin is holding history in your hands. Some coins actually depict historical events. Many include the image of a historic king or emperor. Every ancient coin relates to the people and events of the time and place it was struck. Every ancient coin relates to an interesting historical story. The stories on this page are a primary source of our ancient coin obsession. We hope you enjoy them.


Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

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The obverse legend abbreviates Consul Designatus, Iterum et Tertium, meaning Consul Elect for the second and third time. The reverse legend abbreviates Triumvir Reipublicae Constituendae, the title adopted in November of 43 B.C. by the three Caesarian leaders (Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus) when they formed the Second Triumvirate to oppose the tyrannicides Brutus and Cassius.
SH86609. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2202, Sydenham 1198, Crawford 263, RSC Octavia and M. Antony 3, Sear CRI 263, BMCRR East 135, SRCV I 1513, Choice gVF, toned, well centered, some die wear and rust, scratches, weight 11.723 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, summer - autumn 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT (Consul Elect for the 2nd and 3rd time), conjoined head of Antony and bust of Octavia right, Antony nearer and wreathed in ivy, Octavia draped; reverse Dionysus standing half left on cista mystica, in his right hand, thyrsus in his left hand, flanked by two interlaced snakes with heads erect, III VIR (triumvir) downward on left, R P C (Reipublicae Constituendae) upward on right; $3000.00 (€2550.00)


Plotina, Augusta 105 - 129 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
SH79967. Bronze AE 24, RPC Online III 645, SNG Evelpidis 1170, Lindgren 980, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, BMC Macedonia -, Varbanov -, F, green patina, pitting, weight 9.487 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 105 - 129 A.D.; obverse CEBACTH ΠΛWTEINA, draped bust right; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left, patera in right hand; very rare; $450.00 (€382.50)


Julia Paula, Augusta July or August 219 - about September 220 A.D., First Wife of Elagabalus

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In 219, Julia Maesa arranged for her grandson Elagabalus to marry Julia Paula. The wedding was a lavish ceremony and Paula was given the honorific title of Augusta. In 220, he divorced her and married Aquilia Severa, a Vestal Virgin.
RS86670. Silver denarius, BMCRE V 172, RSC III 6a, RIC IV 211, Hunter III 1, Eauze Hoard 376 (29 spec.), SRCV II 7655, EF, attractive portrait, choice sharp reverse, light toning edge split, obverse slightly off center, weight 2.892 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 220 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PAVLA AVG, bare-headed, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, small looped plait bun at back; reverse CONCORDIA (harmony), Concordia seated left, patera in right hand, left elbow resting on arm of throne, star in left field; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Harlan J. Berk; scarce; $300.00 (€255.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D., Hadrianopolis, Thrace

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Hadrian refounded a Thracian tribal capital, changed its name to Hadrianopolis, developed it, adorned it with monuments, and made it the capital of the Roman province. The city is Edirne, Turkey today. From ancient times, the area around Edirne has been the site of no fewer than 16 major battles or sieges. Military historian John Keegan identifies it as "the most contested spot on the globe" and attributes this to its geographical location. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine I in 323, and Valens was killed by the Goths during the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
SH65237. Bronze AE 25, Jurukova p. 157 & pl. XXII, 244 (V137/R244); Mionnet, Suppl. II, 658; BMC Thrace -, SNG Cop -, SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, weight 7.837 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, Hadrianopolis (Edirne, Turkey) mint, obverse IOYΛIA ∆O CEBACTH, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, looped plait below ear and on neck; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEITΩN, galley left with four oarsmen and steersman in stern; very rare; $280.00 (€238.00)


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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In Roman religion, Concordia was the goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony. The cult of Concordia Augusta ("Majestic Harmony") was of special importance to the imperial household. She is usually depicted wearing a long cloak and holding a patera (sacrificial bowl), a cornucopia (symbol of prosperity), or a caduceus (symbol of peace).
RB26685. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III AP1368, BMCRE IV AP2198, Hunter II 50, Cohen III 22, SRCV II 4710, VF, weight 19.689 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, struck under Antoninus Pius, 157 - 161 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair wavy and drawn back into coil at back; reverse AVGVSTI PII FIL (daughter of the pius emperor), Concordia standing left, patera in extended right, cornucopia in left hand, S - C across field below center; $275.00 (€233.75)


Sabina, Augusta 128 - c. 136 A.D., Wife of Hadrian, Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
RP83496. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online III 655 (8 spec.); BMC Macedonia p. 56, 103; Varbanov 3186 (R5); SNG Evelpidis 1171; Lindgren 987; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, tight flan, some corrosion and scratches, reverse off center, centration dimples, weight 12.382 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 128 - c. 136 A.D.; obverse CABEINA CEBACTH, draped bust right wearing stephane, pellet within crescent with horns up left below chin; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left on high back throne, wearing turreted crown, patera in right hand; rare; $260.00 (€221.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Julia Domna and her children as Terra and the Four Seasons! "The flatterers of Julia Domna pretended that all things were owing to her. The star-besprinkled globe represents the Roman world, which with her husband Septimius Severus she governed; and to the empire of which she destines her two sons, Caracalla and Geta, who, together with as many daughters, are the proof of her fecundity." -- Rasche, T. ii pl l p 932.
RS85789. Silver denarius, RIC IV S549 (R), RSC III 35, BMCRE V S21, Hunter III S22, SRCV II 6579, F, well centered, slightly rough with light even corrosion, edge cracks, weight 2.369 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 207 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, bun at back of head; reverse FECVNDITAS (fertility), Terra reclining left under a vine, nude to the waist, right hand set on globe spangled with stars, leaning on left arm on basket of fruits, in background four children representing the four seasons; rare; $225.00 (€191.25)


Vandal Kingdom, North Africa, c. 429 - 534 A.D., Imitative of Valentinian III

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In spring 429, the Vandals invaded North Africa. Under the influence of his rival general Aλtius, Valentinian III's mother, Galla Placidia, had the Roman governor and general Bonifacius convicted of treason. Rather than surrender for execution, Bonifacius revolted and sought support from Vandal mercenaries in Hispania. Bonifacius made peace with Galla Placidia, but it was too late. King Genseric and the entire Vandal kingdom migrated en masse into Africa and took it with a force of 80,000 men. The Vandals would rule North Africa until the Eastern Romans (Byzantines) recaptured it in 534.
ME79994. Bronze nummus, cf. BMC Vandals p. 27, 80 & pl. iii, 38, VF, crowded flan typical for the type, weight 1.460 g, maximum diameter 11.8 mm, die axis 180o, North African mint, c. 429 - 534 A.D.; obverse diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust of Valentinian III right, blundered legend; reverse camp gate with two turrets, star between turrets, blundered legend; ex Forum (2016); rare; $200.00 (€170.00)


Otacilia Severa, Augusta, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. The wreaths refer to the games sponsored by each of the two cities, the ΠYΘIA games held by Hierapolis, and the XPVCANΘINA games held by Sardes.
RP77256. Bronze AE 25, Franke-Nolle, type V, 838 (Vs. A/Rs. 11); cf. Lindgren-Kovacs 976; BMC Phrygia p. 260, 175, F, weight 7.301 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Feb 244 - End Sep 249 A.D.; obverse M ΩT CEVHPA, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, plait up the back of head; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN K CAP∆,IANΩN NEΩ/KOPΩN (ending in two lines in exergue), two wreaths side by side with inscriptions within, left wreath XPV/CAN, right wreath ΠVΘ/IA, OMONOI/A in the field above; very rare; $195.00 (€165.75)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Hera (Juno to the Romans) is the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Hera's mother is Rhea and her father Cronus. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the kalathos. Hera was known for her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus' lovers and offspring, but also against mortals who crossed her. Paris earned Hera's hatred by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess.
RB79848. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV C585, BMCRE V C208, Hunter III , Cohen IV 90, SRCV II 7114, F, scratches, areas of corrosion, weight 21.909 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 211 - 217 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, small flat coil at back of head, looped plait on neck; reverse IVNONEM, Juno standing slightly left, veiled head left, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, peacock at feet on left standing left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field below center; scarce; $180.00 (€153.00)


Salonina, Augusta 254 - c. September 268 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Tyche (Greek for luck; the Roman equivalent was Fortuna) was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. Increasingly during the Hellenistic period, cities had their own specific iconic version of Tyche, wearing a mural crown (a crown like the walls of the city).
SH66838. Billon tetradrachm, Dattari 5342; Geissen 2982; Kampmann-Ganschow 91.47; SRCV III 10716; BMC Alexandria p. 2266; Milne 4140, Choice aEF, nice portrait, excellent centering, edge cracks, weight 11.345 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 315o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 266 - 28 Aug 267 A.D.; obverse KOPNHΛIA CAΛWNEINA CEB, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges and in plait looped below ear; reverse Tyche reclining left on couch, kalathos on head, rudder in right hand, LI∆ (year 14) above; $160.00 (€136.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Cybele, called mother of the gods, was originally Anatolian mother goddess. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater ("Great Mother"). Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome's eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanised forms of Cybele's cults spread throughout the Roman Empire.
RS85214. Silver denarius, RIC IV C382 (S); BMCRE V p. 432, 14; RSC III 137; SRCV II 7401, Choice gVF, bold well centered strike, light toning, weight 3.517 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, reign of Caracalla, 211 - 215 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, flat coil at back of head, looped plait from ear and on neck; reverse MATRI DEVM, Cybele standing facing, legs crossed, leaning with left arm resting on a column, head left, towered and veiled, drum in right hand, long scepter resting against left arm, lion left at feet half visible from behind legs to left; scarce; $160.00 (€136.00)


Anazarbus, Cilicia, 114 - 115 A.D.

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The torch is a symbol that can be related to either Artemis or Demeter. Although goddess on the reverse is usually identified in references as Artemis, we believe it is Demeter. In year 132, this type was struck at Anazarbus with larger denominations depicting Trajan on the obverse, some with reverses depicting Trajan's sister Marciana, and others with reverses depicting her daughter, Trajan's niece, Matidia. Circulating alongside the other coins, these coins advertised the importance of Marciana and Matidia to the imperial family and suggested that they, similar to Demeter and her daughter Persephone, were essential to the prosperity of the empire.
RP86143. Bronze hemiassaria, BMC Lycaonia p. 31, 3; SNG BnF 2026; SNG Levante 1380 var. (year 132); Ziegler 122; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG Righetti -, Choice VF, attractive glossy dark green patina, well centered, a few bumps and scratches, weight 2.809 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 0o, Anazarbus (Anavarza, Turkey) mint, 114 - 115 A.D.; obverse KAICAPIA ANAZAP, veiled bust of Persephone right, grain ears and poppy before; reverse ET ΓΛP (year 133), veiled bust of Demeter right, wearing polos (resembling a pileus), flaming torch before; $150.00 (€127.50)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Vesta was originally a household spirit. Later she was personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta her flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins.
RS86667. Silver denarius, RIC IV C390, RSC III 230, BMCRE V C29, Hunter III C10, SRCV II 7108, Choice aEF, superb portrait, well centered, light toning, reverse die wear, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.246 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, reign of Caracalla, 211 - 217 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, looped plait from ear around back of neck; reverse VESTA, Vesta standing facing, head left, veiled, palladium in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; $150.00 (€127.50)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

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Fecunditas (Latin: "fecundity, fertility") was the goddess of fertility. She was portrayed as a matron, sometimes holding a cornucopia or a hasta pura, with children in her arms or standing next to her.
RS84969. Silver denarius, RSC III 6, RIC IV 332, BMCRE VI 913, Hunter III 9, SRCV II 8208, gVF, well centered, mint luster in recesses, nice portrait, die wear, small deposits, edge cracks, weight 3.491 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Severus Alexander, c. 232 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, with looped plait at the back of neck; reverse FECVND AVGVSTAE, Fecunditas enthroned left, reaching out with her right hand to small boy standing before her nude with hands raised, left arm on chair; $135.00 (€114.75)


Brettii, Bruttium, Italy, c. 211 - 203 B.C.

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All coinage of the Brettii was issued during the Second Punic War when they allied themselves with Hannibal.
GB85690. Bronze reduced uncia, Scheu Bronze 103 (C), SNG ANS 90, HN Italy 2006, gVF, attractive style, nice green patina, obverse a little off center but full head on flan, weight 8.555 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, Brettii mint, c. 211 - 203 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, within laurel wreath; reverse BPET−TIΩN, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, lyre (control symbol) lower left; ex Roma Numismatics e-auction 6 (22 Feb 2014), lot 14; $135.00 (€114.75)


Faustina Sr., Augusta 25 February 138 - Early 141, Wife of Antoninus Pius

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Faustina I was the wife of Antoninus Pius. Little is known of her, except that she was regarded as vain and frivolous, though this may have just been malicious gossip. Antoninus Pius loved her greatly, and upon her death in 141 A.D., she was deified and a temple was built in her honor.
SH65151. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III AP1118, BMCRE IV AP1514, Hunter II 119, Cohen II 88, SRCV II 4614, Nice VF, green patina, small patina edge chip on rev, weight 27.399 g, maximum diameter 32.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, posthumous, 147 - 161 A.D.; obverse DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right, pearls in hair and hair in elaborate bun on top; reverse AVGVSTA, Ceres standing facing, veiled head left, torch raised in right hand, stalks of grain downward in left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $125.00 (€106.25)


Severina, Augusta Spring 274 - November 275 A.D.

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Juno was the chief female divinity in the Roman pantheon. She was the wife of Jupiter and a member of the Capitoline Triad. She had many different aspects, such as Juno Moneta, Juno Sospita, and Juno Lucina, but here she is depicted as Juno Regina, "Juno the Queen." Juno is usually shown holding a patera, scepter or a statuette of Athena, and is often accompanied by a peacock.
SH65365. Bronze as, MER-RIC 1884 (35 spec.), BnF XII 319 - 321, Hunter IV 17, RIC V-1 7, SRCV III 11711, Cohen VI 9, VF, weight 8.682 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 0o, 7th officina, Rome mint, 11th issue, early - Sep 275; obverse SEVERINA AVG, diademed and draped bust right; reverse IVNO REGINA, Juno standing slightly left, head left, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, peacock left at feet on left; $125.00 (€106.25)


Otacilia Severa, Augusta, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. The wreaths refer to the games sponsored by each of the two cities, the ΠYΘIA games held by Hierapolis, and the XPVCANΘINA games held by Sardes.
RP77257. Bronze AE 25, Franke-Nolle, type V, 830 (Vs. A/Rs. 9); Lindgren-Kovacs 976; BMC Phrygia p. 260, 175, aF, obverse off center but on a broad flan, edge crack, porous, weight 6.144 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Feb 244 - End Sep 249 A.D.; obverse M ΩT CEVHPA, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, plait up the back of head; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN K CAP∆,IANΩN NEΩK/OPΩN (ending in two lines in exergue), two wreaths side by side with inscriptions within, XPY/CAN in the left wreath, ΠYΘ/IA in the right wreath, OMONOI/A in the field above; very rare; $125.00 (€106.25)


Bruttium, Italy, The Brettian League, Allies of Hannibal, c. 216 - 203 B.C.

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All coinage of the Brettii was issued during the Second Punic War when they allied with Hannibal. The Brettii joined Hannibal after his victory at Cannae. Hannibal's last base in Italy was Castra Hannibalis, in Bruttium. The ravages of war inflicted a severe blow to the prosperity of Bruttium. Roman punishment for their rebellion completed their humiliation. They lost most of their territory and the whole nation reduced to a state bordering on servitude. They were not admitted like the other nations of Italy to rank as allies but were pronounced incapable of military service, and were only employed by Rome for menial work.
GI84160. Bronze drachm, Scheu Bronze 19 (rare); SNG Cop 1672; SNG ANS 57; SNG Munchen 1284; SNG Morcom 351; BMC Italy p. 328, 76; HN Italy 1978, VF, lacking legend due to off center and uneven strike, weight 7.834 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 90o, Kroton (Crotone, Calbria, Italy) mint, c. 214 - 208 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, ear of grain (control symbol) behind; reverse BPET−TIΩN (clockwise from upper right), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, hexagram (control symbol) left; rare; $125.00 (€106.25)




  



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