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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ HistoryView Options:  |  |  |   

Collecting History through Ancient Coins

Holding an ancient coin is holding history in your hands. Some coins actually depict historical events. Many include the image of a historic king or emperor. Every ancient coin relates to the people and events of the time and place it was struck. Every ancient coin relates to an interesting historical story. The stories on this page are a primary source of our ancient coin obsession. We hope you enjoy them.


Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

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The obverse legend abbreviates Consul Designatus, Iterum et Tertium, meaning Consul Elect for the second and third time. The reverse legend abbreviates Triumvir Reipublicae Constituendae, the title adopted in November of 43 B.C. by the three Caesarian leaders (Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus) when they formed the Second Triumvirate to oppose the tyrannicides Brutus and Cassius.
SH86609. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2202, Sydenham 1198, Crawford 263, RSC Octavia and M. Antony 3, Sear CRI 263, BMCRR East 135, SRCV I 1513, Choice gVF, toned, well centered, some die wear and rust, scratches, weight 11.723 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, summer - autumn 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT (Consul Elect for the 2nd and 3rd time), conjoined head of Antony and bust of Octavia right, Antony nearer and wreathed in ivy, Octavia draped; reverse Dionysus standing half left on cista mystica, in his right hand, thyrsus in his left hand, flanked by two interlaced snakes with heads erect, III VIR (triumvir) downward on left, R P C (Reipublicae Constituendae) upward on right; $2700.00 (2295.00)


Cornelia Supera, Wife of Aemilian, 253 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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Founded in 709 B.C., the ancient city of Parion is now the village of Kemer in the township of Biga in Canakkale province of Turkey. In the Roman period, it was a major coastal city with two harbors used to connect Thrace with Anatolia. This was the main customs station through which all goods bound for Byzantium from Greece and the Aegean had to pass. It belonged to the Delian League. In the Hellenistic period, it came under the domain of Lysimachus, and subsequently the Attalid dynasty. In Roman times, it was a colonia, within the province of Asia. After that province was divided in the 4th century, it was in the province of Hellespontus. The ancient coinage of Parium is quite abundant.
RP89299. Bronze AE 23, RPC IX 381, SNGvA 7448, SNG Cop 302, cf. SNG BnF 1519/1518, VF, crude style, weight 4.203 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 270o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 253 A.D.; obverse C CORN SVPERA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane and beaded necklace; reverse C G I H P, blundered capricorn flying right, cornucopia projecting upwards from back; rare; $500.00 (425.00)


Plotina, Augusta 105 - 129 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
SH79967. Bronze AE 24, RPC Online III 645, SNG Evelpidis 1170, Lindgren 980, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, BMC Macedonia -, Varbanov -, F, green patina, pitting, weight 9.487 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 105 - 129 A.D.; obverse CEBACTH ΠΛWTEINA, draped bust right; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left, patera in right hand; very rare; $400.00 (340.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, 51 - 30 B.C.

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Cleopatra VII originally shared power with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brother-husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Her relationship with Julius Caesar led to sole rule. After Caesar's assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony. Her reign marks the end of the Hellenistic Era and the beginning of the Roman Era. She was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
GP87627. Bronze diobol, Svoronos 1871; Weiser 183; Noeske 380; SNG Cop 419; SNG Milan 428; BMC Ptolemies p. 123, 4; Hosking 166 (obol); Malter 284; SGCV II 7955, aF, porous, a few pits, weight 15.907 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 50 - 31 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Cleopatra right, with characteristic melon coif hairstyle; reverse KΛEOΠATPAΣ BACIΛICCHC (Queen Cleopatra), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, cornucopia left, Π (80 drachms) right; $360.00 (306.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., Babylonia, In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Price dates this type 311 - 305 B.C. Houghton dates it 311 - 300 B.C. Houghton notes that Kritt down-dated the chronology due to the complexity of the emissions and that two hoards independently support the revised dating.
GS82739. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 82(4)a, Price 3751, Mller Alexander 735, SNG Mnchen 794, Armenak 138, HGC 9 10f, SNG Alpha Bank -, SNG Cop -, VF, bold strike with high relief dies, centered on a tight flan, toned with darker spots, bumps and marks, reverse double struck, weight 17.047 g, maximum diameter 26.3 mm, die axis 0o, Babylon mint, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Atophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) in exergue, MI in left field, MHYP monogram within wreath under throne; $320.00 (272.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Although many coin references classify Fecunditas as a personification of fertility rather than as an actual deity, Fecunditas was recognized as a Roman divinity by Nero, who erected a statue to her. Tacitus notes that upon the birth of Claudia Neronis, the senate decreed the construction of a temple of Fertility to be built at Antium. Fecunditas is always portrayed as a female figure holding a child, or children and often a scepter, cornucopia, palm branch or caduceus. Sometimes the children are depicted standing at her feet. Coins portraying her usually advertise the fertility of the imperial family.
RS89455. Silver denarius, RIC IV S534 (S); RSC III 42; BMCRE V p. 27, W46; SRCV II 6580; Hunter III -, VF/F, excellent portrait, toned, flaw on reverse, small edge cracks, weight 2.934 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 195 - 196 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, large chignon at back of head; reverse FECVNDITAS (fertility), Fecunditas seated right on throne, holding child in her arms, another child at her feet on right, standing left; very rare; $300.00 (255.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Julia Domna and her children as Terra and the Four Seasons! "The flatterers of Julia Domna pretended that all things were owing to her. The star-besprinkled globe represents the Roman world, which with her husband Septimius Severus she governed; and to the empire of which she destines her two sons, Caracalla and Geta, who, together with as many daughters, are the proof of her fecundity." -- Rasche, T. ii pl l p 932.
RS85789. Silver denarius, RIC IV S549 (R), RSC III 35, BMCRE V S21, Hunter III S22, SRCV II 6579, F, well centered, slightly rough with light even corrosion, edge cracks, weight 2.369 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 207 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, bun at back of head; reverse FECVNDITAS (fertility), Terra reclining left under a vine, nude to the waist, right hand set on globe spangled with stars, leaning on left arm on basket of fruits, in background four children representing the four seasons; rare; $200.00 (170.00)


Vandal Kingdom, North Africa, 427 - 534 A.D.

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The 4 nummi was 1/1000 of a gold tremisis.

In spring 429, the Vandals invaded North Africa. Under the influence of his rival general Atius, Valentinian III's mother, Galla Placidia, had the Roman governor and general Bonifacius convicted of treason. Rather than surrender for execution, Bonifacius revolted and sought support from Vandal mercenaries in Hispania. Bonifacius made peace with Galla Placidia, but it was too late. King Genseric and the entire Vandal kingdom migrated en masse into Africa and took it with a force of 80,000 men. The Vandals would rule North Africa until the Eastern Romans (Byzantines) recaptured it in 534.
ME89613. Bronze 4 nummi, MEC I 51 - 56 (Carthage semi-autonomous municipal coinage); BMC Vandals p. 7, 12 - 14 (Hunneric, 477 - 484 A.D.); MIB I 20 (Gelimer, 530 - 533 A.D.), VF, highlighting red earthen deposits, reverse slightly off center, weight 1.161 g, maximum diameter 11.2 mm, die axis 315o, Carthage (near Tunis, Tunisia) mint, 480 - 533 A.D.; obverse diademed, draped and cuirassed bust left, holding palm frond; reverse N / IIII (mark of value) in two lines across field; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 53, lot 989 (notes export permit was approved by the Israel Antiquities Authority); rare; $190.00 (161.50)


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

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Most finds of this type are from Bulgaria, suggesting a mint in Thrace. This type is found both with and without central depressions, indicating it was struck both before and after the coinage reform of 265 B.C., after which central depressions (dimples) became a feature of Ptolemaic coinage. This example is pre-reform.
GP86417. Bronze AE 17, Svoronos 351, SNG Cop 100, Lorber CPE B310 var. (post reform), SNG Milan -, Weiser -, Noeske -, BMC Ptolemies -, Malter -, aVF, obv. die break from nose to edge, rev. well centered on a tight flan, bumps, marks, corrosion, without central cavities, weight 5.472 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain (Thracian?) mint, pre-reform, 285 - 265 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed bust of Arsinoe II right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on fulmen (thunderbolt), head left, wings open, ∆I over (AX monogram) left; see CNG e-auction 92 (23 Jun 2004), lot 64, for another specimen with the same obverse die break; rare; $180.00 (153.00)


Salonina, Augusta 254 - c. September 268 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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This type is unpublished and missing from the ANS, Coin Archives, Wildwinds, and Asia Minor Coins databases online. After an exhaustive search we found one other example of this type. The only other example know to Forum is on our own website, in the Forum Ancient Coins Members' Gallery, Countermarks Theme Gallery - https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-9970. Both coins were struck with the same dies.
RP88898. Bronze 11 assaria, BMC Lycia -, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Leypold -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG Righetti -, Lindgren -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs.), F, well centered on a broad flan, porous, reverse rough, weight 13.130 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 45o, Side (Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, c. 254 - 260 A.D.; obverse KOPNHΛIA CAΛΩNINA CEBA, draped bust right, wearing stephane, star above, IA (mark of value) before neck, countermark: E in a 7mm round punch over mark of value (revaluation to 5 assaria); reverse CI∆TΩN NEΩKOPΩN, Tyche standing slightly left, head left, kalathos on head, rudder held by tiller in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; big 29mm bronze, apparently unpublished, extremely rare, and only the second specimen of the type known to Forum; $170.00 (144.50)




  



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