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Coins of the Roman Imperators

Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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"The coin that killed Caesar." The obverse legend declares Caesar is "Dictator for Life" and he wears the veil, symbolic of his life-term position as Pontifex Maximus. Caesar would be both the dictator and high priest of Rome for the remainder of his life, but his life would end only a few weeks after this coin was struck. For Caesar to put his image on coins and in effect declare himself king was too much for Brutus and his republican allies. On the Ides of March (15 March) 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed to death by as many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius. According to Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theater of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, "The ides of March have come," meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied, "Aye, Caesar; but not gone." This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March."

Minted for Caesar's planned Parthian war, this type was often carelessly struck indicating the mint was working under great pressure.
SH85584. Silver denarius, Crawford 480/16, Sydenham 1067, Sear CRI 111, RSC I Julius Caesar 9, BMCRR I Rome 4185, SRCV I 1415, aVF, toned, weight 3.464 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, moneyer C. Cossutius Maridianus, Feb - Mar 44 B.C.; obverse CAESAR DICT PERPETVO, veiled and wreathed head of Caesar right; reverse C MARIDIANVS, Venus standing left, Victory in extended right hand, resting left arm on shield at side on right; $1350.00 SALE PRICE $1215.00


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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This type was a special military coinage produced by Caesar during his final campaign. This campaign against the Pompeian forces in Spain culminated in the battle of Munda on 17 March 45 B.C. The obverse refers to Caesar's mythical descent from the goddess Venus. The reverse refers to Caesar's victories in Gaul and the male Gaulish captive may be Vercingetorix.
SL74867. Silver denarius, Crawford 468/1, Sydenham 1014, RSC I 13, BMCRR Spain 89, Sear CRI 58, SRCV I 1404, NGC XF, strike 4/5, surface 4/5 (2490379-001), weight 3.987 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 90o, Spanish mint, 46 - 45 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Venus right, small Cupid behind; reverse trophy of Gallic arms; on left, Gallia seated left with hand to head in attitude of morning; on right, male (Vercingetorix?) captive seated right, hands bound behind, looking back and up; CAESAR in exergue; $800.00 SALE PRICE $720.00


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C.

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In 41 B.C., Mark Antony met Cleopatra VII in Tarsus (Cilicia) and formed an alliance. He returned to Alexandria with her and they became lovers in the winter of 41 - 40 B.C. To safeguard herself and Caesarion, she had Antony order the execution of her (half) sister Arsinoe IV, who was living at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus.
SL86807. Silver denarius, BMCRR II East 91 (larger head from later in the issue), Crawford 496/3, Sear CRI 129, Sydenham 1169 (very scarce), RSC I 70, SRCV I 1468, ANACS VF30, countermark, scrape (6030741); toned, bankers' marks on obverse, weight 3.71 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 0o, late 42 - early 41 B.C.; obverse bare head of Mark Antony right, beardless, IMP upward over lituus behind; reverse M. ANTONIVS III VIR. R.P.C. (clockwise from upper right), radiate head of Sol right ; military mint traveling with Antony in Greece and Asia; ex Heritage - NYINC Signature Sale 3063 (16 Jan 2018), lot 33377; ex CNG e-auction 392 (1 Mar 2017), lot 502 ("From the Collection of a Director"); rare; $675.00 SALE PRICE $608.00


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG V

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This may have been the famous V Alaudae ('the larks'), a Caesarean legion which remained loyal to Antony but was later retained by Augustus. There are other possibilities, however: V Macedonica, a Caesarean legion about which little is known; V Urbana, disbanded after Actium (and therefore quite likely an Antonian legion); and V Gallica, a Caesarean legion that was probably the one that under Lollius lost its eagle to German raiders in Gaul in 17 B.C.
SH86627. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/18, Sydenham 1221, BMCRR II East 196, RSC I 32, Sear CRI 354, SRCV I 1479, Choice gVF, nice toning, some light marks and scratches, weight 3.622 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANT AVG III. VIR. R. P. C., galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - V, legionary aquila between two standards; $650.00 SALE PRICE $585.00


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire

SL77511. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, NGC VF, strike 4/5, surface 1/5 (2490379-003), weight 3.549 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); NGC certified (slabbed); $480.00 SALE PRICE $432.00


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG V

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This may have been the famous V Alaudae ('the larks'), a Caesarean legion which remained loyal to Antony but was later retained by Augustus. There are other possibilities, however: V Macedonica, a Caesarean legion about which little is known; V Urbana, disbanded after Actium (and therefore quite likely an Antonian legion); and V Gallica, a Caesarean legion that was probably the one that under Lollius lost its eagle to German raiders in Gaul in 17 B.C.
RS79795. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/18, Sydenham 1221, BMCRR II East 196, RSC I 32, Sear CRI 354, SRCV I 1479, VF, obverse slightly off-center, banker's mark on obverse, weight 3.714 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANT AVG III. VIR. R. P. C., galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - V, legionary aquila between two standards; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG XII

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This old Caesarean legion was known at different times as Victrix, Antiquae, Paterna and finally XII Fulminata ('the thunderers'). Its veterans settled (among other places) in Patras in Greece. After fighting without great distinction in the First Jewish Revolt, the legion was transferred to Melitene in Cappadocia, where it remained for several hundred years.
RR85202. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/26, Sydenham 1230, BMCRR II East 204, RSC I 41, Sear CRI 365, F, toned, off center, scratches, weight 3.216 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 225o, Patrae(?) mint, autumn 32 - spring 31 B.C.; obverse ANTAVG / III VIRRPC, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - XII, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; $195.00 SALE PRICE $176.00


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain Mint, Anatolia or Syria

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The mint, the quaestor who struck this type, and even the identity of the person in the portrait remain uncertain. The type has previously been attributed to Macedonia and the portrait identified as Brutus (Friedlander) or Caesar (Grant). David Sear notes the type has never been found in Macedonia. Finds point to Syria or Anatolia. It is possible that the type was issued, with his own portrait, by Sosius, a general under Marc Antony who was quaestor in 39 B.C. Much more likely, however, the portrait is of Augustus.
RP77502. Bronze AE 28, RPC I 5409; Sear CRI 957 (Syria); AMNG II 29 (Pella), F, porous, scratches, weight 19.349 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Anatolian or Syrian mint, obverse bare head right; reverse hasta (spear), sella quaestoria (quaestor's seat of office), and fiscus (imperial treasury), Q (for quaestor) below; ex H.D. Rauch e-auction 15 (16 Jun 2014), lot 145; $125.00 SALE PRICE $113.00


Mark Antony and Octavian, 2nd Triumvirate, Thessalonica, Macedonia, 37 B.C.

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The reverse inscription abbreviates, MAPKOΣ ANTΩNIONΣ AYTOKPATΩP ΓAIOΣ KAIΣAP AYTOKPATΩP. The bust of Libertas on the obverse "refers to the grant of freedom by the Triumvirs to Thessalonica in 42 BC after the battle of Philippi (the victory which is celebrated on the reverse)." -- RPC I, p. 29

In 37 B.C., Cleopatra loaned Antony the money for the army. After a five-month siege, the Romans took Jerusalem from the Parthians. Herod the Great made king by Anthony, took control of his capital. Antigonus was taken to Antioch where Antony had him executed. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered by the Roman troops supporting Herod.
RP83539. Bronze AE 29, BMC Macedonia p. 115, 63; RPC I 1551/20-26; Sear CRI 672; SNG Cop 374; SNG ANS 823, aF, green patina on yellow brass, edge splits corrosion, weight 23.685 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, 37 B.C.; obverse ΘEΣΣAΛONKEΩN EΛEYΘEPIAΣ, diademed and draped bust of Eleutheria (Liberty) right, E (year 5) below chin; reverse M ANT AYT Γ KAI AYT, Nike advancing left, extending wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; $115.00 SALE PRICE $104.00


Kings of Cilicia, Tarkondimotos, c. 39 - 31 B.C.

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Tarkondimotos was made dynast by Pompey and crowned king by Marc Antony. He died at the Battle of Actium. The anchor countermark, frequently used in an earlier era by Seleukid kings, is almost certainly post-Actium, perhaps from Antioch.
GB75283. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 3871, SGCV II 5682, BMC Lycaonia p. 237, 1 ff., F/aF, green patina, weight 8.040 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 0o, Hieropolis mint, c. 39 - 31 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, countermark: anchor in oval punch; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / TAPKON∆IMO/TOY, Zeus enthroned half left, himation around hips and legs with end over shoulder, Nike offering wreath extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, ΦIΛANT exergue; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50










REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Carson, R. Principal Coins of the Romans, Vol. I: The Republic, c. 290-31 BC. (London, 1978).
Crawford, M. Roman Republican Coinage. (Cambridge, 1974).
Grueber, H.A. Coins of the Roman Republic in The British Museum. (London, 1910).
Rutter, N.K. ed. Historia Numorum. Italy. (London, 2001).
Seaby, H.A., D. Sear, & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Volume I, The Republic to Augustus. (London, 1989).
Sear, D. R. The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49 - 27 BC. (London, 1998).
Sear, D. R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sydenham, E. The Coinage of the Roman Republic. (London, 1952).

Catalog current as of Sunday, February 18, 2018.
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The Imperators