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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Roman CountermarkedView Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Imperial Roman and Roman Provincial Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


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

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The coin was struck by a mint traveling with Antony in Greece, between autumn 32 and summer 31 B.C., perhaps at Petrae near Corinth. The countermark was applied for Vespasian at Ephesus between 1 January 74 and 23 June 79 AD.
CM89794. Silver denarius, cf. Crawford 544/14, Sydenham 1216, BMCRR II East 190, RSC I 27 ff.; countermark: Howgego 839, coin: Fair/Poor, countermark: aVF , weight 2.873 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, obverse ANT•AVG / III VIR•R•P•C, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - [...], aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; countermark: MP VES (IMP ligate appears as MP, and VE ligate); $150.00 (€132.00) ON RESERVE


Agrippa, Struck Under his Grandson Caligula, 38 A.D.; Countermark: Moesia or Thrace, Civil War, 68 - 69 A.D.

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Pangerl (Pangerl 87) attributes this P R countermark to Moesia or Thrace and dates it to the Roman civil war of 68 - 69 A.D. He interprets it to abbreviate Populus Romanus. Howgego (Howgego 599) lists a contemporary P R countermark (sometimes retrograde) that was applied in Syria, probably at Antioch. These use of P R was almost certainly intended to suggest the support of the people of the Roman Empire for the revolt of Galba and Vindex.
CM91168. Copper as, RIC I Gaius 58, BMCRE II Tiberius 161, BnF II Caligula 77, Hunter I 1, Cohen I 3, SRCV I 1812; Countermark: Pangerl 87 (Moesia or Thrace, 68 - 69), coin: aF; countermark: VF, right edge punch appears to have been broken, weight 8.946 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, coin: 38, countermark: c. 68 - 69; obverse M AGRIPPA L F COS III, head left wearing a rostral crown; countermark: P R (Populi Romani - People of Rome) in a rectangular punch; reverse Neptune standing facing, head left, nude but for cloak draped over arms, dolphin in right hand, trident vertical in left hand, large S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; scarce countermark; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. Cities in Thrace and Asia minor sometimes formed alliances with other cities. The competition for prestige and rivalry between cities in the East was intense. Alliances could enhance a city’s status by aligning either with many cities or with particularly important ones. Homonoia was part of civic "foreign policy" and might have involved the exchange of delegates and joint celebrations and sacrifices. At least 87 cities issued homonoia coins celebrating their alliances.
RP77248. Bronze AE 28, Franke-Nolle, type VI, 857 (Vs.C/Rs.18); cf. SNGvA 3668; SNG Tübingen 4054; Lindgren III 596, VF, tight flan, obscure countermark on obverse, weight 9.924 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AY• K• - ΠOY• ΛIK• OYAΛEPAN/OC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front, round countermark on face; reverse IEPAΠOΛE/ITΩN - KE - CAP∆IANΩN, Apollo on left, standing right, plectrum in right hand, kithara in left hand; cult statue of Kore facing, wearing kalathos and veil, NEOKOPΩN downward in right field, OMONOYA in exergue; very rare; $145.00 (€127.60)
 


Livia, Wife of Augustus and Mother of Tiberius, 22 - 23 A.D.

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The countermark NCAPR was applied to numerous orichalcum coins of the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius. NCAPR is most often explained as "Nero Caesar Augustus Populo Romano." Others believe NCAPR abbreviates "Nummus Caesare Augusto Probatus" or "Nero Caesar Augustus Probavit" (probavit means approved). Excavations of the Meta Sudans and the northeastern slope of the Palatine Hill in Rome indicate that this countermark was applied for Nero's congiarium (distribution to the people) in 57 A.D., which supports the Populo Romano interpretation. Varieties of this relatively common countermark are identified by some authors as applied in either Italy, Spain or Gaul. The countermark is not found on coins bearing the name or portrait of Caligula. Clearly any coins of Caligula that were still in circulation and collected for application of the countermark were picked out and melted down, in accordance with his damnatio, rather than being countermarked and returned to circulation. A NCAPR countermark has, however, been found on a Vespasian dupondius which, if genuine and official, seems to indicate the N may refer to Nerva, not Nero.
RB88864. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC I T43 (S); BMCRE I T98; BnF II T74; Hunter I T26; Cohen p. 170, 1; SRCV I 1741; countermark: Pangerl 60a, Werz 138, aF, well centered, bumps, scratches, porosity, corrosion, weight 12.614 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 22 - 23 A.D.; obverse veiled, draped bust of Livia or Livilla as Pietas right, wearing stephane, PIETAS below; reverse DRVSVS CAESAR TI AVGVSTI F TR POT ITER, legend around large S C (senatus consulto), countermark: NCAPR in a rectangular punch; scarce; $120.00 (€105.60)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Zeugma, Commagene, Syria

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Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.
RY86830. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online IV 8532 (52 spec.); SNG Hunterian 2628 (same c/m); BMC Galatia p. 125, 8 (same); SNG Cop 28; countermark: Howgego 453 (32 pcs.), aF, c/m VF, tight flan, earthen deposits, corrosion, edge cracks , weight 10.192 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma (Belkis, Turkey) mint, 138 - 161 A.D.; obverse AYTO KAI TIT AIΛ A∆P ANTWNEINOC CEB EY (or similar), laureate head right, countermark: 5-pointed star in same shaped 5 mm punch; reverse ZEYΓMTEWN, tetrastyle temple, a rectangular walled and colonnaded peribolos before the temple containing sacred grove, crescent with horns up above, obscure officina letter upper left; ex Beast Coins; $95.00 (€83.60)
 







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REFERENCES

Baker, R. "The Countermarks Found on Ancient Roman Coins: A Brief Introduction" in SAN XV (1984). pp. 52-58.
Barag, D. "The countermarks of the Legio Decima Fretensis" in Kindler Patterns. (Tel-Aviv, 1967).
Barag, D. & S. Qedar. "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War" in INJ 13 (1994).
Howgego, C. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Kenyon, R. "The countermark PROB on coins of Claudius from Britain" in NC 148 (1988).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
Mac Dowall, D. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68" in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie" in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Topalov, S. New Contributions to the Study of the Countermarking of Coins in the Area of the West Pontic Cities, 3rd - 1st c. B.C. (Sofia, 2002).
Werz, U. "Die Gegenstempel von Kalkriese und der Münzumlauf in frühtiberischer Zeit in der Germania inferior und superior" in Wiegels, p. 237 - 252.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

Catalog current as of Thursday, June 20, 2019.
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Countermarked Roman Coins