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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.


Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D.

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R. F. Kenyon in "The countermark PROB on coins of Claudius from Britain" (NC 148, 1988) writes that the PROB countermark, which was applied only to sestertii of Claudius, can be expanded to PROBatum, meaning "approved." The Claudian sestertii bearing this countermark are found almost exclusively in Britain and Italy. His study did not find shared punches between any coins with known provenances from Britain and Italy, suggesting that the Claudian sestertii circulating in Britain were countermarked there. The countermarks were carefully applied, always in the right obverse field and never overlapping the imperial portrait. Coins were countermarked before they had seen much, if any, circulation.
SH85461. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 99; BMCRE I 124; SRCV I 1853; Cohen I 85; c/m: Kenyon 1 - 7 (same coin type, same placement), Pangerl 23 (Gallia), Martini 40, Choice VF, c/m: EF; Tiber toning, bumps and scratches, light corrosion, reverse double struck, weight 25.951 g, maximum diameter 36.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 42 A.D.; obverse TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP, laureate head right, countermark: PROB in a rectangular punch; reverse SPES AVGVSTA, Spes walking left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; rare countermark; $1000.00 (€890.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., VAR Quinctillus Varus Countermark

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The Altar of Lugdunum and the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls was dedicated by Augustus on 1 August 10 B.C., the very same day Drusus' son, the future emperor Claudius, was born in Lugdunum. All the notable men of Gaul were invited. Caius Julius Vercondaridubnus, a member of the Aedui tribe, was the first priest of the new imperial cult. The altar, which was engraved with the names of 60 Gallic tribes, was featured prominently on coins from the Lugdunum mint for many years.
CM84471. Copper as, BnF I 1485 (with c/m), RIC I 230, BMCRE I 549, SRCV I 1690, Cohen I 240; countermark: Pangerl 52e (Publius Quinctilius Varus), aF, rough, edge crack, c/m: aF, weight 8.852 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 10 - 6 B.C.; obverse CAESAR PONT MAX, laureate head right; countermark: VAR ligature (Varus) in a rectangular punch; reverse ROM ET AVG (in exergue), the Altar of Lugdunum, the front decorated with the corona civica between laurels and figures; flanked on each side by a Victory on a column standing facing center, raising a wreath and holding a palm frond; $810.00 (€720.90)
 


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 Tubingen 4054; Lindgren III 596, VF, tight flan, obscure countermark on obverse, weight 9.924 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, 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; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Municipal Coinage, Fall 48 - Spring 47 B.C.

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The countermark is similar to a group of countermarks from Antioch, Chalkis, Laodicaea, Seleukia, and Damascus, all cities controlled by Cleopatra (except for Antioch, which nevertheless appears to have issued coins for Antony and Cleopatra). Richard McAlee notes, "it now seems likely that the countermark portrays Cleopatra, and was used to mark coins circulating in the Syro-Phoenician territories which were given to her by Mark Antony." Older references identified the head as Apollo.
RY84165. Bronze AE 23, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, tight flan, weight 11.436 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 48 - 47 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, countermark: head right (Cleopatra?) in an oval punch; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, Zeus seated left holding Nike and scepter, date IΘ below; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D., Ilium, Troas, Divus Augustus Reverse

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Ilium was previously named Troy. The countermark, presumably the gorgoneion on the breastplate of Athena Illias, is known on coins from Galba, Nero and Agrippina, Claudius, Gaius, and also on civic issues.
CM85344. Bronze AE 25, RPC I 2313 (10 spec., this countermark noted); BMC Troas p. 62, 38; SNGvA 153; Bellinger Troy 121; SNG Cop -; c/m: Howgego 193, aF, countermark VF, nice green patina, some porosity, weight 8.458 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, die axis 180o, Ilium mint, 25 Jan 41 - 13 Oct 54 A.D.; obverse TI KΛAY∆IOC KAICAP, bare head of Claudius right; reverse ΘEOC AYTOKPATΩP, radiate head of divus Augustus right, IΛI lower right horizontal before neck, statue of Athena Illias standing on base to right; countermark: gorgoneion in 7mm round punch; very rare; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain (Philippi?), Macedonia

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Howgego notes the capricorn was a standard type for Parium. The capricorn was a symbol of Augustus and was probably adopted as a symbol of the city after a Augustan refoundation of the colonia. Howgego notes that the capricorn countermarks on the colonist plowing types may have indicated a devaluation of the coins.
RP85357. Bronze AE 19, RPC I 1656.43 (same countermark); SNG Cop 282; Varbanov 3770 (R4); McClean 7660 (Tiberius); SNG BnF 1439 (Parium, Mysia); c/m: Howgego 302 (Parium), gF, c/m: VF; scratches, corrosion, earthen deposits, reverse flattened by counter-marking, weight 3.861 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Uncertain (Philippi?) mint, 16 Jan 27 B.C. - 19 Aug 14 A.D.; obverse AVG, bare head right; c/m Capricorn right in rectangular punch; reverse two priests with yoke of two oxen right, plowing the pomerium (sacred boundary), founding the new colony; rare with countermark; $125.00 (€111.25)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 218 - 268 A.D.

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An Apollo Citharoedus is a statue or image of Apollo with a Kithara (lyre). Among the best-known examples is the Apollo Citharoedus of the Vatican Museums, a 2nd-century A.D. colossal marble statue by an unknown Roman sculptor. Apollo is shown crowned with laurel and wearing the long, flowing robe of the Ionic bard. The statue was found in 1774, with seven statues of the Muses, in the ruins of Gaius Cassius Longinus' villa near Tivoli, Italy. The sculptures are preserved in the Hall of the Muses, in the Museo Pio-Clementino of the Vatican Museums. Apollo
RP77263. Bronze AE 25, Johnson Hierapolis 67 (3 spec.); Weber CHP II, 12; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 85; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Mun -; countermark: Howgego 278, F, c/m: F; well centered on a broad flan, edge crack, weight 7.557 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 218 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY- NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: Male figure standing, uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, Apollo Kitharoedos (Archegetes) standing right, in long chiton and mantle, plectrum in lowered right hand, Kithara in left arm; very rare; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77252. Bronze AE 26, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, aF, broad flan, small edge crack; countermark: gF, weight 5.595 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $90.00 (€80.10)
 


Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D., Philippi, Macedonia, Countermark of Parium

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Philippi was founded by Philip II of Macedonia to control the neighboring gold mines and the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis. Philip constructed fortifications, sent colonists, and established a mint in the city. Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the assassins of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius, at the Battle of Philippi west of the city in October 42 B.C. They released some of their veterans to colonize the city, which was refounded as Colonia Victrix Philippensium. In 30 B.C., Octavian reorganized the colony with more Italian settlers, veterans possibly from the Praetorian Guard. The city was renamed Colonia Iulia Philippensis, and then Colonia Augusta Iulia Philippensis after January, 27 B.C., when Octavian received the title Augustus from the Roman Senate.
RP85361. Bronze semis, RPC I 1660 (21 spec.); BMC Macedonia p., 93 (with c/m); SNG Cop 285 (same); McClean 7662; c/m: Howgego 303 (Parium), F, c/m: F; toned coppery surfaces, porous, somewhat irregular flan with edge cracks, weight 3.772 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Philippi (near Filippoi, Greece) mint, 25 Jan 41 - 13 Oct 54 A.D.; obverse TI CLAV, bare head of Claudius left; countermark: Capricorn left in a rectangular punch; reverse Priest and yoke of two oxen plowing right; $90.00 (€80.10)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77253. Bronze AE 24, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, F, well centered, edge crack, punch or flan flaw on the reverse; countermark: F, weight 5.388 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $85.00 (€75.65)
 




  



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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 Saturday, July 22, 2017.
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Countermarked Roman Coins