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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |History||View 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.

The Triumvirs, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, c. Autumn 34 B.C.

|Cleopatra| |VII|, |The| |Triumvirs,| |Mark| |Antony| |and| |Cleopatra,| |c.| |Autumn| |34| |B.C.||tessera|
This lead seal clearly copies the portrait of Cleopatra VII as represented on the denarius type RRC 543/1 - everything from the countenance of the face, the hairstyle, and the drapery matches closely. The seal is made to a much higher standard than is usual with lead tesserae - it may have been struck from an unknown coin die - and the presence of the caduceus may relate to the cult of Isis. -- Andrew McCabe
SH95312. Lead tessera, apparently unpublished, but cf. Crawford 543/1 for a similar portrait, VF, brown patina with touches of red, weight 6.491 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, c. autumn 34 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped female bust right (Cleopatra?), winged caduceus before; reverse blank; ex CNG e-sale 458 (18 Dec 2019), lot 305; ex Andrew McCabe Collection, ex Marc de Cock (Belgium); $900.00 (€828.00)


Mytilene, Lesbos, 188 - 170 B.C., In the Name Alexander the Great

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Mytilene,| |Lesbos,| |188| |-| |170| |B.C.,| |In| |the| |Name| |Alexander| |the| |Great||tetradrachm|NEW
Coins struck by the magistrate Peisistratos are rare. This is the only specimen of this type known to FORVM. Another unpublished and perhaps unique specimen from this magistrate on Coin Archives has throne legs ornamented with sphinx(?) and a kerykeion under the throne.
GS96470. Silver tetradrachm, unpublished, cf. Price 1738, Müller Alexander 970, HGC 6 1047, SNG Cop -, SNG Alpha Bank -, (A under throne, unpublished), gF, uneven strike with weak areas/inscriptions, rough, porosity, lamination defects, edge chip, weight 15.585 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 0o, Lesbos, Mytilene mint, magistrate Peisistratos, c. 188 - 170 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on throne with snake entwined legs and no back, A under throne, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, kithara lower left, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right, ΠEIΣIΣTPATOΣ (magistrate) in exergue; ex Leu Numismatics web auction 12 (31 May 2020), lot 2002 (part of); the only specimen of this variety known to FORVM; extremely rare; $400.00 (€368.00)


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

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||denarius|
Julia Domna was born in Emesa (now Homs), Syria in 170 A.D. She was the youngest daughter of high-priest Julius Bassianus, a descendant of the Royal House of Emesa. Emesa was famous for its Temple of the Sun, the center of worship for the ancient pagan cult El-Gebal (or Elagabal). El-Gebal, worshiped in the form of a conical black stone, was the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God and means God of the Mountain. Emesa was also the birthplace of three other Roman empresses, Julia Maesa, Julia Mamaea and Julia Soaemias, and one emperor, Julia Domna's nephew, Elagabalus.
RS92345. Silver denarius, RIC IV S627 (S); RSC III 103; BMCRE V p. 104, 418; SRCV II 6591, F, off center, minor encrustations, edge cracks, weight 3.225 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bust right; reverse LIBERAL • AVG, Liberalitas standing slightly left, polos or kalathos on head, counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; only one sale in the last two decades recorded on Coin Archives (an ex Forum coin!); rare; $240.00 (€220.80)


Kingdom of Mauretania, Juba II and Cleopatra Selene, 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.

|Mauretania|, |Kingdom| |of| |Mauretania,| |Juba| |II| |and| |Cleopatra| |Selene,| |25| |B.C.| |-| |24| |A.D.||AE| |27|
After his father's defeat and suicide, Juba II was take to Rome and paraded in Caesar's triumph. He was then raised in Caesar's household where he and Octavian became lifelong friends. He accompanied Octavian on campaigns after Caesar's death even fighting at the battle of Actium against his future wife's parents. Cleopatra Selene was the daughter of Cleopatra VII by Marc Antony. After the battle of Actium, she was raised by Octavia, Octavian's sister. Augustus restored Juba II as the king of Numidia c. 28 B.C. and later arranged for him to marry Cleopatra Selene II giving her a large dowry and appointing her queen.
SL95881. Bronze AE 27, Alexandropoulos 209, Mazard 351 (RRR), SNG Cop 605, De Luynes 4013, NGC F, strike 4/5, surface 2/5, lt. smoothing (5872605-040), weight 18.59 g, maximum diameter 27 mm, die axis 90o, Caesarea (Cherchell, Algeria) mint, 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.; obverse REX IVBA, diademed and draped bust right, club over shoulder; reverse BACI−ΛICCA / KΛEOΠATPA, headdress of Isis, with stalks of grain, crescent above; NGC| Lookup; very rare; $225.00 (€207.00)


Thessalian League, Thessaly, Greece, c. 170 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Thessalian| |League,| |Thessaly,| |Greece,| |c.| |170| |B.C.||chalkous|
The object on the reverse was long considered somewhat mysterious. Roger identified it as a lyre. Robinson suggested a diadem or more probably a sling. Warren argued it is a stylized depiction of a dart sling, or Kestrosphendone, a weapon first introduced during the Third Macedonian War between Rome and Perseus of Macedon. Warren suggests this type was struck at Demetrias in Magnesia, under orders from Perseus, to commemorate the success of the weapon.
GB96459. Bronze chalkous, Warren, "Two Notes," NC 1961, pl. I, 11; BCD Thessaly II 24.2; HGC 4 236; Rogers 4 var., gVF, well centered, nice green patina, light earthen deposits, marks, weight 3.065 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, Magnesia, Demetrias (near Volos, Greece) mint, c. 170 B.C.; obverse Macedonian round shield, pellets and five double arcs/crescents around star in central boss; reverse kestrosphendone (dart sling) with dart inside, ΘEΣΣA/ΛΩN divided in two lines, the first above, ending below; ex David Wray Collection, ex John Jencek; very rare; $225.00 (€207.00)


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

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta,| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||denarius|
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; $216.00 (€198.72)


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Kition, Cyprus

|Cyprus|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Kition,| |Cyprus||unit|
The open-mouth quiver is unique to the Kition mint. The "arrow" on this coin is very unusual. The description of Price 3119 includes a KT monogram but followed by (?). The monogram is missing from all examples known to Forum. We suspect the KT monogram does not exist on any Alexander bronze from Kition.
GB95811. Bronze unit, cf. Tziambazis 6, Price 3119, Bank of Cyprus --, gVF, nice green patina with buff earthen highlighting, light marks, porosity, tight flan, weight 4.731 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 225o, Kition (Larnaca, Cyprus) mint, 336 - 323 B.C. (perhaps later); obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse club right above, AΛEΞAN∆POY across center, open-mouth quiver, arrow(?) and bow below; $200.00 (€184.00)


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |II| |Philadelphos,| |285| |-| |246| |B.C.||AE| |17|
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; $160.00 (€147.20)


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

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||sestertius|
Vesta was originally a household spirit. Later she was personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta, her sacred flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins. In 394, by order of the Christian emperor Theodosius I in his campaign to eliminate pagan practices in Rome, the fire of Vesta was extinguished.
RB91372. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE IV p. 123, 492; RIC IV p. 207, 843 (R); Hunter III 42; Cohen IV 222; SRCV II 6632, VF, well centered, porous, corrosion, rough areas, weight 23.018 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 193 - 196 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bare-headed bust right, hair in waved horizontal ridges; reverse VESTA, Vest seated left on throne, palladium in right hand, long scepter transverse in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) divided low across field; from a New England dealer; rare; $160.00 (€147.20)


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

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta,| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||denarius|
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; $145.00 (€133.40)




  



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