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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Military ▸ Nike or VictoryView Options:  |  |  |   

Nike or Victory on Ancient Coins

Victoria or Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory, personifies victory. She was described variously in different myths as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus. According to classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves. Victory or Nike is one of the most common figures on Greek and Roman coins.


Plautilla, Augusta 202 - 22 January 205 A.D., Wife of Caracalla

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Sulla in a dream first saw Venus with the weapons of Mars as Venus Victrix and made her his personal patroness. In the night before the battle of Pharsalus 48 B.C. Pompey dreamed of Venus Victrix - seemingly a lucky sign. Caesar sacrificed to Venus Genetrix, but issued as watchword 'Venus Victrix', and defeated Pompey!
RS89494. Silver denarius, RIC IV 369, RSC III 25, BMCRE V 429, Hunter III 9, SRCV II 7074, Choice VF, well centered, nice portrait, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.219 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 202 - 205 A.D.; obverse PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, looped plait at back of neck; reverse VENVS VICTRIX (victorious Venus), Venus standing left, bare to waist, apple in right hand, palm frond in left hand, resting left elbow on shield, Cupid at her feet on left holding crested helmet; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 73, part of lot 970; $9999.00 (€8499.15)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reins in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2270.00 (€1929.50)
 


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Lysimachos Type

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Mithradates VI Eupator "the Great"expanded his Pontic Kingdom through conquest, which inevitably brought him into conflict with Rome. Mithradates regarded himself as the champion of the Greeks against Rome, however, after three years of war, he was defeated by Pompey the Great. The design of this coin is taken from a coin of Lysimachos, bodyguard of Alexander the Great, and King of Thrace 323 - 281 B.C. The Lysimachos coin depicted Alexander the Great on the obverse. The features of the obverse portrait on this type are those of Mithradates VI.
SH88831. Gold stater, Callata˙ p. 140, pl. XXXVII (D3/R1); AMNG I 263; HGC 3.2 1824; SNG Cop 1089 var. (control), VF, struck with worn dies, weight 8.206 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Kallatis mint, First Mithradatic War, c. 88 - 86 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great right wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena seated left, Victory crowning name with wreath held in Athena's extended right hand, resting left elbow on round shield leaning on back of seat, A∆ monogram (control) inner left, KAΛ below seat, trident in exergue ornamented with two small dolphins, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right; Kirk Davis, catalog 70, lot 11; $2200.00 (€1870.00)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

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The "Eastern" mint denarii of Hadrian are all rare. BMCRE vol. II, pp. 372-81, ppl. 68-71, lists 27 specimens from the collection and another 44 not in the collection but illustrated in the plates. The section on Hadrian's Imperial coinage on the Beast Coins website lists just under 50 specimens. This coin is apparently unpublished and we do not know of another specimen.
RS87615. Silver denarius, Strack II 43 (eastern mint) cf. RIC II 345 (Rome); BMCRE III 497 (Rome) & pl. 70, 2 (eastern; bare hd. dr.); RSC II 363a (Rome); Hunter II 171 (Rome), Choice aEF, nice portrait, tone on luster, well centered on a broad flan, a few bumps and small scratches, weight 2.978 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain eastern mint, 125 - 128 A.D.; obverse HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS P P, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse COS III, Victory seated left on stool, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand; very rare; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Alexandreia Troas, Troas

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RPC II notes this extremely rare type was previously attributed to Apamea in Bithynia. The issue, however, included two reverse types, this Victory type and one with Apollo Smintheus, and the cult of Apollo Smintheus was centered on the Troad. Also, an example of the Apollo type was found at Alexandria. Both types are extremely rare. These were the first coins issued by Alexandria Troas, which otherwise did not strike coins before Antoninus Pius.
RP86548. Copper semis, RPC II 896/1 (2 spec., same obv. die); Milne NC 1953, p. 23, 6 (Apamea); Rec Gén p. 252, note 4 (same); Bellinger -; BMC Troas -; SNG Cop -, aF, tight flan, light corrosion, light deposits, reverse a little off center, weight 4.930 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, obverse IMP VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory standing right, wearing long chiton, filleted wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand, D - D flanking low across field; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins, ex Sayles & Lavender (2009); extremely rare; $340.00 (€289.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The shield held by Victory is the golden shield that was dedicated to Augustus by the Senate and Roman People (S. P. Q. R.) in recognition of his classic, cardinal virtues. By placing the shield and Victory on his coin, Nero was claiming these same virtues were part of his regime. -- Roman History from Coins by Michael Grant
SH89525. Copper as, RIC I 543, BMCRE I 381, BnF II 160, Mac Dowall WCN 593, Hunter I 131, Cohen I 302, SRCV I -, VF, excellent portrait, well centered, brown patina, scattered light porosity, weight 10.997 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 66 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVG P MAX TR P P P, laureate head right, globe at point of neck; reverse Victory flying left, shield inscribed S P Q R in right hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking high across field; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos VI Epiphanes Nikator, c. 96 - 94 B.C.

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Seleucia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) is near the Mediterranean coast, a few miles inland from the mouth on the Göksu River. It was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the early 3rd century B.C., one of several cities he named after himself. The towns Olbia (or Olba) and Hyria were probably united to populate the new city. The residents of the nearby Holmi moved to Seleucia because the coast was vulnerable to raiders and pirates. Seleucia achieved considerable commercial prosperity as a port for this corner of Cilicia (later named Isauria), and was even a rival of Tarsus. Cilicia thrived as a province of the Romans, and Seleucia became a religious center with a renowned Temple of Jupiter. It was also the site of a noted school of philosophy and literature, the birthplace of peripatetics Athenaeus and Xenarchus.
GS87612. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2405(9); SNG Spaer 2782, Kraay-Mřrkholm Essays p. 93, 59 ff.; HGC 9 2405, VF, toned, well centered on a tight flan, light scratches and marks, weight 14.620 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Kalykadnos mint, c. 96 - 94 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukos VI right, diadem ends falling straight behind, fillet border; reverse Athena standing left, Nike standing right offering wreath in Athena's right hand, left hand resting on grounded shield, grounded spear vertical behind, ANEIΣI (ANE ligate) downward inner left; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87618. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, well centered on a broad flan, light bumps and marks, small spots of light corrosion on the obverse, weight 16.109 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 300 - 275 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
GS88981. Silver didrachm, cf. SNG ANS I 345; SNG Cop 417; BMC Italy p. 99, 58; Weber I 333; Sambon p. 227, 463; McClean 265; HN Italy 579; HGC I 453 (S), F, attractive style, even wear - nice for the grade, light bumps and marks, irregular flan shape with edge split, weight 6.921 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 300 - 275 B.C.; obverse diademed female head (Siren Parthenope?) right, wearing large pendant earring and pearl necklace, astragalus (control symbol) behind neck, APTE[MI?] (master engraver or magistrate) below neck truncation; reverse man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, ΘE below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue (off flan); ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87616. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, slightly off center, corrosion, light scratches, weight 16.461 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $240.00 (€204.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.
Marest-Caffey, L. "Seleukos I's Victory Coinage of Susa Revisited: A Die Study and Commentary" in AJN 28 (2016).

Catalog current as of Thursday, April 18, 2019.
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Nike or Victory