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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Greek Countermarked||View Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Ancient Greek 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.

Aspendos, Pamphylia, 370 - 333 B.C.

|Aspendos|, |Aspendos,| |Pamphylia,| |370| |-| |333| |B.C.||stater|
The countermark appears to be a Hoplite advancing right with sword in right and round shield in left, in oval incuse. The hoplite represents the soldiery for which Aspendus was famous. The astonishing abundance of the silver money of Aspendus is a proof of the commercial importance of the town; and the number of countermarks and barbarous imitations shows that it circulated widely in the region.22.6
SH95389. Silver stater, Arslan-Lightfoot 39; SNGvA 4561; Tekin Series 4, 11; SNG BnF 84; SNG Cop 231; SNG Berry 1224 (all same obv die), VF, attractive rainbow toning, typical slightly flat strike, weight 10.855 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 370 - 333 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers, the left one holds the wrist of his opponent with his right and right forearm with his left hand, AK between their legs; reverse slinger, wearing short chiton, discharging sling to right, triskeles on right with feet clockwise, EΣTΦE∆IIYΣ upward on left, countermark lower right: lion head right in a round 3.6mm punch; ex Forum (2011); $750.00 (€690.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Kalchedon, Bithynia Countermark

|Greek| |Countermarked|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Kalchedon,| |Bithynia| |Countermark||drachm|
Similar head (some Demeter, some Apollo, possibly some Persephone) with K or KA monogram countermarks were found along with coins countermarked at Byzantium in the Buyukcekmece Hoard. That find provides almost certain proof that the countermarks were applied at Kalchedon. It was previously believe the head K countermarks were applied at Kallatis because some coins with these Kalchedon countermarks also bear KAΛ countermarks from Kallatis. Based on the mint dates and wear of coins in the hoard, the Buyukcekmece burial may have been connected to the war between Byzantium and Rhodes in 220/219 B.C.
SL95875. Silver drachm, countermark: See Price p. 69 and Buyukcekmece Hoard pp. 18 ff. for similar countermarks from Calchedon, NGC VF, strike 4/5, surface 1/5, scratches (5872605-039), weight 3.94 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 0o, countermark: 280 - 220 B.C.; obverse Herakles head right wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress, countermark: head right (Apollo?), K right (and A or die break lower right), all within 8.5mm circular punch; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; NGC| Lookup; very rare countermark; $240.00 (€220.80)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

|Countermarked|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |II| |Philadelphos,| |285| |-| |246| |B.C.||tritartemorion|
 
CM95812. Bronze tritartemorion, cf. Lorber CPE B227, Svoronos 451; countermark apparently unpublished, coin: Fair, nice green patina, marks, encrustations, closed crack, beveled obverse edge, central cavities; countermark: gF+, weight 9.064 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 267 - 259 B.C.; obverse bust of Alexander the Great right, wearing elephant skin headdress; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing on thunderbolt facing left, wings open, E(?) between legs; countermark: shaped punch of helmeted bust of Athena right; ex Zeus Numismatics auction 5 (15 Mar 2020), lot 1105; no other examples of this countermark are known to FORVM, it is possibly unique; $190.00 (€174.80)
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, Second Punic War, 211 - 206 B.C.

|before| |150| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Anonymous,| |Second| |Punic| |War,| |211| |-| |206| |B.C.||as|
Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. Janus is believed to be one of the few major deities in Roman mythology that does not have a Greek origin or counterpart.
RR88221. Bronze as, Crawford 56/2, Sydenham 143, BMCRR Rome 373 ff., SRCV I 627, F, green patina, crack, porous, weight 29.386 g, maximum diameter 33.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 211 - 206 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Janus, I (mark of value) above, countermark: head right in round punch; reverse war galley prow right, I (mark of value) above, ROMA in exergue; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; $115.00 (€105.80)
 


Alexandreia Troas, Troas, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

|Troas|, |Alexandreia| |Troas,| |Troas,| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||AE| |19|
Alexandria Troas (modern Eski Stambul) is on the Aegean Sea near the northern tip of the west coast of Anatolia, a little south of Tenedos (modern Bozcaada). The city was founded by Antigonus around 310 B.C. with the name Antigoneia and was populated with the inhabitants of Cebren, Colone, Hamaxitus, Neandria, and Scepsis. About 301 B.C., Lysimachus improved the city and re-named it Alexandreia. Among the few structure ruins remaining today are a bath, an odeon, a theater and gymnasium complex and a stadium. The circuit of the old walls can still be traced.
CM89990. Bronze AE 19, SNG Cop 96 (same countermarks); cf. BMC Troas p. 12, 29 ff.; SNG Munchen 92 f.; SNGvA 1461, F, scattered porosity, edge crack, clear countermarks, weight 3.948 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo facing; c/m: lyre; reverse lyre, AΛEΞAN (or similar) around), all within laurel wreath; c/m: star of six rays around a central pellet within a 7.5mm round punch; $105.00 (€96.60)
 







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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).
Bauslaugh, R. "Cistophoric Countermarks and the Monetary System of Eumenes II" in NC 1990.
Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Davesne, A. "Une contremarque au trident sur certaines monnaies de Ptolémée II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-sémitiques sur les monnaies grecques et proche-orientales. Glaux 13. (Milan, 1998).
Howgego, C.J. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Vol. IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Thompson, M. "A Countermarked Hoard from Büyükçekmece" in ANSMN VI (New York, 1954), pp. 11 - 34, pls. I - VII.
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).
Waggoner, N. "The Propontis Hoard" in NR XII, 1979, pp. 7 - 29, plates I - X.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

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