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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Roman Countermarked||View 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.


The Pangerl Collection: Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins

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A primary reference for countermarks on Roman imperial coins. Essential for dealers and countermark collectors.
BK43206. Collezione Pangerl: Contromarche Imperiali Romane (Augustus - Vespasian) by Rodolfo Martini, Nomismata 6, (The Pangerl Collection: Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins), hard-bound, Milan, 2003, large format, 352 countermarks, 348 pages, 19 plates, Italian text with English translation; SOLD


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; SOLD


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; SOLD


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Autumn 48 - Autumn 47 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

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From McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch, p. 74, note 25: "The coins of this year (Pompeian Era 19 = 48/7 BC) and of Year 3 of the Caesarean Era are frequently seen with a countermark on the obverse, which was previously described as "head of Apollo r." in an oval. As discussed in the text, 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."
CM25063. Bronze tetrachalkon, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; Cohen DCA 384; HGC 9 1366; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, VF/F, countermark VF, weight 14.149 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, Autumn 48 - Autumn 47 B.C.; c/m: c. 36 - 30 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra right in an incuse oval; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, Zeus Nicephorus enthroned left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs, Nike offering wreath in his extended right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, fulmen (thunderbolt) above, cornucopia (control symbol) inner left, IΘ (Pompeian Era year 19) below, all within laurel wreath; SOLD


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, c. 47 - 45 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

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McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch, p. 74, note 25 says tetrachalkoi of this time, "...are frequently seen with a countermark on the obverse which was previously described as 'head of Apollo r. in an oval...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."
SH70086. Bronze tetrachalkon, cf. McAlee 46 - 50, Butcher 15 - 17, RPC I 4219 - 4221, HGC 9 1367, DCA 392; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25; Butcher 18, VF/F, reverse flattened from countermarking and scratched, Choice countermark, weight 12.285 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 47 - 45 B.C.; countermark: c. 36 - 30 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra right in an incuse oval; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛEΩΣ, Zeus Nicephorus enthroned left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs, Nike offering wreath in his extended right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, fulmen (thunderbolt) above, headdress of Isis(?) inner left, uncertain Pompeian Era date below, all within laurel wreath; ex CNG e-auction 321, lot 171; SOLD


Jerusalem, Judaea, Legio X Fretensis Countermarks, c. 68 - 132 A.D.

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The boar and the galley were emblems of the tenth legion Fretensis. In 66 A.D., Legion X Fretensis moved to Judaea to suppress the revolt. In 68, the Xth destroyed the monastery of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls originated. In 70, the Xth camped on the Mount of Olives and used war machines to hurl 25 kg stones 400 meters at the ramparts of besieged Jerusalem. After a five-month siege and the horrors of starvation, the city was taken and then completely destroyed. In the autumn of 72, the Xth, auxiliary troops, and thousands of Jewish prisoners erected a wall of circumvallation around Masada, the last Jewish stronghold. The Jewish defenders chose mass suicide before the final assault. After the revolt, the Xth was the sole legion in Judaea and garrisoned at Jerusalem. X Fretensis is recorded to have existed at least until the 410s.Legion X Camp
CM84114. Bronze AE 25, Hendin 1609; Rosenberger III p. 54, 5; Sofaer Collection p. 284, 1; c/m: Howgego 291 (boar on dolphin, 19 pcs.), Howgego 410 (galley, 15 pcs.), Coin Poor, Countermarks Fine, rough, corrosion, weight 10.962 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, obverse Flavian bust right; reverse countermarks: (1) galley right in c. 8 mm x 4 mm rectangular punch, Howgego 410 (15 pcs); and (2) L•X•F (Legion X Fretensis) over boar right standing on a dolphin right in c. 12 mm x 9 mm rectangular punch, Howgego 291 (19 pcs); rare; SOLD


Ascalon, Philistia, 76 - 77 A.D., Countermarked by Legio X Fretensis

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In 66 A.D., Legion X Fretensis moved to Judaea to suppress the revolt. In 68, the Xth destroyed the monastery of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls originated. In 70, the Xth camped on the Mount of Olives and used war machines to hurl 25 kg stones 400 meters at the ramparts of besieged Jerusalem. After a five month siege and the horrors of starvation, the city was taken and then completely destroyed. In the autumn of 72, the Xth, auxiliary troops, and thousands of Jewish prisoners erected a wall of circumvallation around Masada, the last Jewish stronghold. The Jewish defenders chose mass suicide before the final assault. After the revolt, the Xth was the sole legion in Judaea and garrisoned at Jerusalem. X Fretensis is recorded to have existed at least until the 410s.Legion X Camp
RP86850. Bronze AE 15, RPC II 2205; SNG ANS 683; Rosenberger 55; BMC Palestine p. 112, 54; c/m: cf. Howgego 733 (Jerusalem(?), c. 85 - 117 A.D.), F, a little rough, corrosion; countermark: VF, weight 1.894 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Ashkelon mint, 76 - 77 A.D.; obverse draped and veiled bust of Tyche right; countermark: L•X (Legio X) in a rectangular punch; reverse war galley right, ΠP (year 180) over AΣ (Ashkelon) above; rare; SOLD


Jerusalem, Judaea, Legio X Fretensis Countermarks, c. 68 - 132 A.D.

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The boar and the galley were emblems of the tenth legion Fretensis, stationed in and around Jerusalem.
CM38681. Bronze AE 26, Hendin 802, countermarks F, weight 10.974 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, obverse Flavian? profile visible, LXF countermark; reverse galley and LXF boar countermarks; rare; SOLD


Nero Claudius Drusus, Born 38 B.C., Died 9 B.C., Issued by his Son Claudius

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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.
RB16474. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I Claudius 109, BMCRE I Claudius, 208, BnF II Claudius 108, Cohen I 8, SRCV I 1897; countermark: Pangerl p. 121, 60, VF, attractive burgundy and olive patina, some corrosion, weight 28.884 g, maximum diameter 35.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, 42 - 43 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMANICVS IMP, bare head left; countermark behind: NCAPR in a rectangular incuse punch; reverse TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP P P, Claudius seated left on curule chair, togate, branch in right hand, surrounded by arms and shields, S C in exergue; SOLD


Countermarked Bronze Coin, Time of Civil War to Vespasian, c. 68 - 79 A.D.

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Countermarked with:

1. Head right (Divus Augustus?)

2. Bunch of grapes

3. Capricorn



According to Martini, the Capricorn countermark appears on coins from Augustus to Nero, from Moesia or Thrace. The letters or device below the capricorn are not clear on our our coin nor were they to Martini from other examples. The capricorn was a symbol of Vespasian and issue under his reign is a good possibility. The coin is listed by Martini right after #93, a Galba countermark.
SH24953. Bronze AE 28, countermark: Pangerl 94 for the capricorn, the other two countermarks not listed, weight 14.701 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, interesting and unusual countrmarks; SOLD




  




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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 Wednesday, October 23, 2019.
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Countermarked Roman Coins