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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Nautical & MarineView Options:  |  |  |   

Nautical & Marine Themes on Ancient Coins

Here we include coins that depict Poseidon, Neptune, ships, anchors, prows, dolphins, sea eagles, crabs, scallops, and all things related to the sea.


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

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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; $4000.00 (3400.00)


Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other - so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa. Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.
SH87414. Silver denarius, RSC I Pompeia 3a (same ligatures), Crawford 511/4d, Sydenham 1348, BMCRR Sicily 20, Sear CRI 335b, SRCV I 1393, gVF, beautifully toned, edge cracks, legends not fully struck, weight 3.566 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse MAGPIVSIMPITER, pharos (lighthouse) of Messana, topped with stature of Neptune standing right holding trident and rudder, his left foot on a galley ram; quinquereme (war galley) sailing left in foreground below adorned with aquila on prow and scepter at the stern; reverse PRAEF ORAEMARITETCLAS SC (AEs and MAR ligate), the sea monster Skylla, her upper body a nude human female torso, lower body of two fish tails and three dog foreparts, attacking to left with a rudder wielded as a club in both hands raised overhead; ex Nomos Obolos 10, lot 349; rare; $2100.00 (1785.00)


Akragas, Sicily, c. 420 - 406 B.C.

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On similar common types, the eagle is right, sometimes devouring the fish, and on the reverse the positions of octopus and conch are switched. This particular type with the eagle screaming left and the octopus to the left the conch is missing from all the references examined (Calciati, HGC 2, SNG ANS, SNG Cop, SNG Munchen, SNG Tubingen, SNG Lloyd, BMC Sicily, McClean, Weber, et al.). This coin is the only example on Coin Archives (the Savoca auction).
GB86317. Bronze hemilitron, apparently unpublished; Calciati 47 var. (conch to left); HGC 2 135 (R1) corr. (same obv. die but text says eagle right) var. (conch to left), VF, well centered, some porosity, reverse slightly rough, weight 21.219 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 90o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 406 B.C.; obverse AKP-AΓANTIN-ON, eagle standing left on fish, raising head up screaming, wings open; reverse crab from above, eel in right claw, octopus to left of conch shell below, six pellets around; ex Savoca Numismatik, auction 4 (30 Aug 2015), lot 176; extremely rare variety; $500.00 (425.00)


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D.

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This type appears to refer to a victory on the Sea of Galilee during the recapture of Judaea.
RB82679. Copper as, RIC II-1 p. 112, V753 (R); BnF III p. 173, V734; Cohen I 363 var. (head left); BMCRE II -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, VF, well centered, rough light green patina, small edge chip, weight 7.964 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 74 A.D.; obverse T CAESAR IMP COS III CENS, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVST (the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right on prow, wreath in extended right hand, palm across left shoulder in left hand, S - C across field below center; rare; $360.00 (306.00)


Messana, Sicily, c. 324 - 318 B.C.

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Founded in the 8th century B.C., until the 5th century Messina was called Zancle, meaning "scythe" because of the shape of its harbor. Carthage sacked the city in 397 B.C. and then Dionysius I of Syracuse conquered it. In 288 B.C. the Mamertine mercenaries seized the city by treachery, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives. The city became a base from which they ravaged the countryside, leading to conflict with Syracuse. Initially Carthage assisted the Mamertines. When Syracuse attacked a second time, the Mamertines asked Rome for help. Rome was initially reluctant, but allied with the Mamertines to limit Carthaginian power.In 264 B.C., Roman troops were deployed to Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian Peninsula. At the end of the First Punic War, Messana was a free city allied with Rome.
GB85698. Bronze litra, Caltabiano 761 group III (D28/R51); cf. Calciati I p. 52, 15; SNG ANS 393; HGC 2 833 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG Mn -; BMC Sicily -, gVF+, superb style, attractive patina, areas of corrosion and encrustation, weight 6.303 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Messana (Messina, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 324 - 318 B.C.; obverse ΠOΣEI∆AN, laureate head of Poseidon left, torch behind, K below; reverse MEΣΣANIΩN, ornate trident head, flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; rare; $250.00 (212.50)


Byblos (Gebal), Phoenicia, 62 - 60 B.C.

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Byblos was strongly influenced by Egyptian art, culture and religion. In Egyptian myth, Byblos is where Isis found the body of her dead husband in the trunk of a tree which had grown around him after he was murdered by his brother Set. In Pharaonic times, Isis had nothing to do with the sea, and it was Hathor who protected sailors. The Greeks syncretized the two goddesses resulting in Isis Pelagia, mistress of the sea and protector of sailors.

Most recent studies conclude this type is dated to the Pompeian Era. Many older studies listed it as Actian Era, 28 - 27 B.C. RPC also notes the possibility that it is dated the third regnal year of Nero, 56 - 57 A.D.
GB87104. Bronze AE 25, Imhoof-Blumer MG p. 443, 23; Rouvier 670; SNG Righetti 2257; De Clercq p. 18 & pl. IV, 340; SNRIS Byblus 10 (7 spec.); RPC I -; Cohen DCA -, VF, overstruck, weight 8.395 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 45o, Byblos (Jbail, Lebanon) mint, 62 - 61 B.C. or 61 - 60 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse (Phoenician: of Gebal the Holy), Isis Pelagia standing right on a barge, wearing crown and long chiton, a sail swollen by the wind held under foot and with both hands, L - Γ (year 3 [Pompeian Era]) flanking head, large (Byblos monogram) behind; very rare; $250.00 (212.50)


Arados, Phoenicia, Uncertain King, c. 400 - 384 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
GS87352. Silver stater, Elayi-Elayi Arwad group III.2.1; HGC 10, 32 (R1), VF, typical compact flan, bumps and marks, weight 10.308 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 400 - 384 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph (abbreviating Melech Arad - King of Arados) from right to left above, three waves below; ex CNG e-auction 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 252; rare; $235.00 (199.75)


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Byzantion Countermark

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This BY over prow countermark, along with a nearly identical countermark using an archaic form of B resembling Π, was used at Byzantium. David Sear notes, "at this time [when the counter mark was applied after c. 280 B.C.], the Byzantines were subject to continual threats by Gaulish invaders, who were bought off by the payment of huge annual tributes. The impoverished city had to resort to countermarking foreign coins in place of a proper currency."
CM85916. Silver drachm, c/m: Propontis Hoard 144, SGCV 1585 (Byzantion, 280 - 225 B.C.), coin: aF, flattened opposite countermark, marks, scratches, porosity; countermark VF, weight 3.808 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Western Ionian(?) mint, c. 323 - 297 B.C.; obverse Herakles head right wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; countermark: BY over prow left with dolphin finial within circular punch; reverse Zeus Atophoros seated left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, control symbols left and below throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; rare countermark; $230.00 (195.50)


Salamis, Cyprus, c. 322 - 310 B.C.

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Salamis was a maritime town on the east coast of Cyprus, at the end of a fertile plain between two mountains, near the River Pediaeus.
GB86883. Bronze AE 14, Bank of Cyprus 27; Tziambazis 130 (Evagoras II); BMC Cyprus p. 61, 74 (Evagoras II); SNG Cop -, VF, well centered and struck, dark patina, some pitting and corrosion, weight 2.555 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, die axis 0o, Salamis mint, c. 322 - 310 B.C.; obverse helmeted and draped bust of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet, earring and necklace; reverse prow left, ΣAΛ upward on left; very rare; $180.00 (153.00)


Lot of 3 Bronze Coins - Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.
LT87368. Bronze Lot, 3 bronze coins, 18.7 - 20.2 mm, obverse diademed head of Poseidon left; reverse ornamented trident between two dolphins, dolphins head down; no tags or flips, the lot is the actual coins in the photograph; $180.00 (153.00)




  



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Catalog current as of Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
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Nautical & Marine