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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)


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)


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 - 139, 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, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, 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, MI in left field, monogram within wreath under throne; $360.00 (306.00)


Julia Paula, Augusta July or August 219 - about September 220 A.D., First Wife of Elagabalus

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In 219, Julia Maesa arranged for her grandson Elagabalus to marry Julia Paula. The wedding was a lavish ceremony and Paula was given the honorific title of Augusta. In 220, he divorced her and married Aquilia Severa, a Vestal Virgin.
RS86670. Silver denarius, BMCRE V 172, RSC III 6a, RIC IV 211, Hunter III 1, Eauze Hoard 376 (29 spec.), SRCV II 7655, EF, attractive portrait, choice sharp reverse, light toning edge split, obverse slightly off center, weight 2.892 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 220 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PAVLA AVG, bare-headed, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, small looped plait bun at back; reverse CONCORDIA (harmony), Concordia seated left, patera in right hand, left elbow resting on arm of throne, star in left field; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Harlan J. Berk; scarce; $270.00 (229.50)


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

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"Saeculi Felicitas" means happy times, referring to the empire's new heirs. The two infants are the twin sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Junior, Commodus and Antoninus, born 31 August 161, at Lanuvium, near Rome. Antoninus died at age four. Commodus succeeded Marcus Aurelius as emperor.
RS85787. Silver denarius, RIC III MA712; RSC II 191; BMCRE IV MA139; Hunter II p. 352, 16; SRCV II 5260, Choice VF, well centered, light toning, light marks, edge cracks, weight 3.155 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Marcus Aurelius, Sep 161 - 162 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse SAECVLI FELICIT (era of good fortune), the twin infant boys Commodus and Antonius seated facing on a draped throne; $250.00 (212.50)


Locri Epizephyrii, Bruttium, Italy, 280 - 275 B.C., Time of Pyrrhus

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Relations between Locri and Syracuse were close and in the late 5th century B.C. they were allied against Athenian aggression. In 282 B.C. the city received a Roman garrison for defense against the Bretti, but in 280 joined Pyrrhus and became his main South Italian mint. The Romans regained control in 275 and held it until 212 - 205 when Bruttium became the last stronghold of Hannibal and his Brettian allies.
GI87398. Bronze AE 23, Lindgren II 359 (this coin), HN Italy 2386, SNG ANS 573, SNG Cop 1889, BMC Corinth -, VF, burgundy-brown patina, porous, weight 8.985 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 90o, Locri Epizephyrii mint, 280 - 275 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet, necklace and drop earring, barley ear behind; reverse ΛOKPΩN (below), Pegasus flying left, AΓ monogram below; this is the Lindgren plate coin, ex FORUM (2013); $220.00 (187.00)


Sabina, Augusta 128 - c. 136 A.D., Wife of Hadrian, 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.
RP83496. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online III 655 (8 spec.); BMC Macedonia p. 56, 103; Varbanov 3186 (R5); SNG Evelpidis 1171; Lindgren 987; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, tight flan, some corrosion and scratches, reverse off center, centration dimples, weight 12.382 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 128 - c. 136 A.D.; obverse CABEINA CEBACTH, draped bust right wearing stephane, pellet within crescent with horns up left below chin; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left on high back throne, wearing turreted crown, patera in right hand; rare; $205.00 (174.25)


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

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In Roman religion, Concordia was the goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony. The cult of Concordia Augusta ("Majestic Harmony") was of special importance to the imperial household. She is usually depicted wearing a long cloak and holding a patera (sacrificial bowl), a cornucopia (symbol of prosperity), or a caduceus (symbol of peace).
RB26685. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III AP1368, BMCRE IV AP2198, Hunter II 50, Cohen III 22, SRCV II 4710, VF, weight 19.689 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, struck under Antoninus Pius, 157 - 161 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair wavy and drawn back into coil at back; reverse AVGVSTI PII FIL (daughter of the pius emperor), Concordia standing left, patera in extended right, cornucopia in left hand, S - C across field below center; $200.00 (170.00)


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)


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, 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, lacking central depressions, weight 5.472 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain (Thracian?) mint, pre-reform, 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; $200.00 (170.00)




  



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