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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; $2400.00 (2112.00)


Agrippina Senior, b. 14 B.C., d. 33 A.D., Wife of Germanicus, Mother of Caligula and Agrippa Jr.

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The carpentum was a type of state carriage, with two wheels, and commonly drawn by a pair of mules. The privilege of riding in a carpentum in public festivals was sometimes granted to females of the imperial family. Agrippina's, carriage on the reverse of this coin, was very richly adorned with painting or carving on the panels, and the cover was supported by caryatides on the corners. When Caligula instituted games and other solemnities in honor of his deceased mother Agrippina, her carpentum went in the procession (Suet. Calig. 13).
RB91444. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I Gaius 55, BMCRE I Caligula 81, Cohen I 1, BnF II Caligula 128, Hunter I Gaius 36, SRCV I 1827, F, well centered, some obv. legend unstruck, rough, weight 24.658 g, maximum diameter 34.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, 37 - 41 A.D.; obverse AGRIPPINA M F MAT C CAESARIS AVGVSTI, draped bust right, her hair tied in queue in back and one lock falling down side of neck; reverse S P Q R / MEMORIAE / AGRIPPINAE, carpentum drawn by two mules left; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection, ex Pegasi Coins; $500.00 (440.00)


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.

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RPC II notes the style of Domitian's cistophori is similar to that of the Rome mint and the die axis is always 6:00 like Rome and unlike Ephesus. It is likely they were struck at Rome. BMCRE notes the fineness is 85%.
RS89459. Silver cistophorus, RPC II 866, RIC II-1 845, BMCRE II 225, SNG Cop 431, SNGvA 6581, RSC II Domitia and Domitian 2, F, toned, scratches and marks, some legend weak, weight 9.622 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome (or uncertain Anatolian) mint, 82 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG P M COS VIII, laureate head of Domitian right; reverse DOMITIA AVGVSTA, draped bust of Domitia right, hair massed in front and in long plait behind; rare; $450.00 (396.00)


Domitia, Wife of Domitian, 81 - 96 A.D., Ephesos in Alliance with Smyrna, Ionia

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The image on the reverse resembles sculptures of Artemis, the Lady of Ephesus, including one at the Ephesus Archaeological Museum and another at the Vatican. The Ionians worshiped Artemis as a mother goddess, akin to the Phrygian Cybele. Her cult image was adorned with multiple rounded breast like protuberances on her chest. They have been variously interpreted as accessory breasts, eggs, grapes, acorns, or even bull testes. Excavation at the site of the Artemision in 1987/8 found a multitude of tear-shaped amber beads that once adorned the ancient wooden xoanon.Artemis

RP91446. Bronze AE 21, RPC II 1083 (2 spec.), Franke-Nolle -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Mnchen -, BMC Ionia -, Stumpf -, Choice gF, excellent centering, attractive darker highlighting fields, light marks, light porosity, obverse die break at 8:00, weight 7.555 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Ephesos mint, proconsul P. Calvisius Ruso, c. 92 - 94 A.D.; obverse ∆OMITIA CEBACTH, draped bust right; reverse ANΘY POYCΩNOC OMONOIA (Anthypatos Ruso, alliance), facing cult statue of Artemis of Ephesos standing, wearing polos and veil, with arm supports, ZMYP (Smyrna) downward on left, EΦE (Ephesos) downward on right; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; zero sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades, only a few specimens known to exist; extremely rare; $450.00 (396.00)


Mariniana, Died c. 253 A.D., Wife of Valerian I

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Egnatia Mariniana was the wife of Emperor Valerian and mother of Gallienus. She died shortly before or shortly after her husband's accession to the throne.
RB91454. Bronze sestertius, Gbl MIR 213d, RIC V-1 11 (R2), Hunter IV 6, Cohen V 10, SRCV III 10076, F, nice portrait and peacock, somewhat rectangular flan, edge cracks, weight 13.534 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, posthumous, c. 256 A.D.; obverse DIVAE MARINIANAE, draped bust right, wearing veil and stephane; reverse CONSECRATIO, peacock facing in splendor, looking right, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking legs; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection, ex Pegasi Coins, ex George M. Beach (Owosso, MI); rare; $380.00 (334.40)


Aquilia Severa, Augusta 220 and 221 - 222 A.D.

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Aquilia Severa was the second and fourth wife of Elagabalus. She was a Vestal Virgin and Elagabalus was the high priest of the sun-god Heliogabal. Elagabalus held parallel marriage ceremonies; Elagabalus married Aquilia and Heliogabal married Vesta. This was extremely offensive to the Romans since Vestal Virgins were prohibited from marriage during their 30-year vow of chastity. Elagabalus and Aquilia, as well as Heliogabal and Vesta, were divorced in order to restore public confidence and Elagabalus was quickly remarried. However, Elagabalus divorced his third wife within a few months and remarried Aquilia Severa. Returning to Aquilia Severa sealed his fate. Elagabalus and his mother were murdered; their bodies were dragged through the streets of Rome and thrown into the Tiber.
SH91784. Silver denarius, RIC IV E225 (S), RSC III 2a, BMCRE V E185, SRCV II 7679 var. (star right), Choice gVF, well centered, frosty surfaces, small edge crack, weight 2.708 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 221 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AQVILIA SEVERA AVG, draped bust right; reverse CONCORDIA (harmony), Concordia standing half left, sacrificing from patera in right over lit altar, double cornucopia in left hand, star upper left; scarce; $380.00 (334.40)


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; $360.00 (316.80)


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 (264.00)


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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Click to see a video demonstration recreating Faustina's hairstyles.
SL89810. Silver denarius, RIC III AP506b, RSC II 155a, BMCRE IV AP1049, Strack III A491, SRCV II 4705, Hunter II -, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (4163480-012), weight 2.99 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Antoninus Pius, 148 - 152 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, draped bust right, single band (of pearls?) around head; reverse LAETITIAE PVBLICAE, Laetitia standing facing, head left, diadem in right, long scepter in left; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins; $250.00 (220.00)


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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Hilaritas, the personification of rejoicing, is usually depicted as a matron, standing with a cornucopia in her left hand and a long palm frond on the ground in her right. Green branches were a sign of gladness and for special occasions, both public and private, it was the custom in ancient times to ornament streets, temples, gates, houses, and even entire cities, with branches and leaves of trees. This tradition carries on today in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.
RS89844. Silver denarius, RIC III MA686, RSC II 111, BMCRE IV MA100, Hunter II 6, SRCV II 5254, Choice EF, well centered, nice portrait, flow lines, struck with a worn reverse die, small edge cracks, weight 3.138 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Marcus Aurelius, 161 - 175 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair waived and drawn back into a coil a the back of neck; reverse HILARITAS, Hilaritas standing slightly left, head left, long grounded palm frond in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; $250.00 (220.00)




  



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