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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Quality ▸ Eye AppealView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coin Eye Appeal

The most important factor in determining the price of a coin is eye appeal. One coin of the exact same type as another can be priced ten times higher or more. So, what is this eye appeal?

It is beauty. . . It is classical fine art. . . It is a masterpiece portrait. . . It is sculptural high relief. . . It is a choice strike. . . It is a gem patina. . . It is Celtic abstraction. . .

It is . . . on this page!


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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Augustus' sun sign was Libra. We don't know why he selected the Capricorn as his emblem. Perhaps Capricorn was either his rising sign or his Moon sign. Popular astrology, of the newspaper kind, is sun sign astrology. The ancients tended to attach more importance to the Moon sign and rising signs. Perhaps Augustus selected the Capricorn because it is associated with stern moral authority.
SH84736. Silver denarius, BnF I 1271 (same dies, attributed to auxiliary workshop, Colonia Patricia), RIC I 126 (R2), RSC I 21, BMCRE I 346, Hunter I 145, SRCV I 1592, Choice aMS, nearly as struck, mint luster, well centered and bold strike, a few light marks, obverse die wear, weight 3.809 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Spanish (Colonia Patricia?) mint, 16 B.C.; obverse bare head right, dot border, anepigraphic; reverse capricorn right, filleted cornucopia overflowing with grain and fruit on its back, celestial globe and rudder with tiller held between hooves, AVGVSTVS below; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; scarce; $3150.00 (€2803.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C., Portrait of Queen Philistis

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Hieron II placed his wife and son on coins during his long reign. Those of Queen Philistis are eagerly sought after by collectors.
SH84601. Silver 5 litrae, CCO Syracuse 221 (D2/R2), SNG ANS 893, SNG Lloyd 1546, SNG Cop 827, Dewing 959, McClean 2918, Weber 1708, HGC 2 1557 (R2) (all from the same dies), Choice aEF/gVF, toned, light marks, weight 4.441 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 218 - 215 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed head of Queen Philistis left, palm frond behind; reverse Nike galloping biga left, holding reins with both hands, E• in front of horses' legs, BAΣIΛIΣΣAΣ above, ΦIΛIΣTI∆OΣ exergue; from the Lawrence Woolslayer Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica auction 27 (12 May 2004), lot 129; ex A.D.M. Collection; ex Ratto Collection, 1929 sale, lot 213; rare; $3000.00 (€2670.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Emerita, Hispania Lusitania

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Mérida, Spain was founded by P. Carisius in 25 B.C., as Emerita Augusta, the name referring to the discharged soldiers who populated the city, by order of Augustus to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The city became an important city in the Roman Empire and the capital of Lusitania province. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain (including a triumphal arch of the age of Trajan).
SH84707. Silver denarius, RIC I 9b, RSC I 398, BMCRE I 291, BMCRR Spain 128, BnF I 1039, Hunter I 124, SRCV I 1627 var. (head right), gVF, full circle centering on a broad flan, mint luster, weak strike areas, die wear, small edge cracks, weight 3.775 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 90o, Emerita Augusta (Merida, Spain) mint, P. Carisius, c. 25 - 23 B.C.; obverse IMP CAESAR AVGVST, bare head left; reverse P CARISIVS LEG PRO PR (P. Carisius Legatus [Augusti] pro Praetore), bird's-eye view of town with walls around, EMERITA inscribed above gateway in front with three battlements over two arched entrances; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; $1600.00 (€1424.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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A legatus Augusti pro praetore (literally: "envoy of the emperor - acting praetor") was the official title of the governor of some imperial provinces of the Roman Empire during the Principate era, normally the larger ones or those where legions were based. Provinces were denoted imperial if their governor was selected by the emperor, in contrast to senatorial provinces, whose governors (called proconsuls) were elected by the Roman Senate.
SH84735. Silver denarius, RIC I 7b, RSC I 405, BMCRE I 282, BMCRR Spain 115, BnF I 1048, Hunter I -, SRCV I -, Nice gVF, attractive portrait, bold strike, light toning with luster in recesses, area of corrosion on reverse edge 3:00 - 6:00, weight 3.758 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 315o, Emerita Augusta (Merida, Spain) mint, P. Carisius, c. 25 - 23 B.C.; obverse IMP CAESAR AVGVST, bare head left; reverse P CARISIVS LEG PRO PR (P. Carisius Legatus [Augusti] pro Praetore), Celtiberian helmet decorated with face and crest, short dagger pointing downward on left, bipennis (double-headed ax) slanting upward on right; this is the only example of this scarce type ever handled by Forum, from the Marcelo Leal Collection; scarce; $1400.00 (€1246.00)
 


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

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Nero considered himself an artist, perhaps he was and took an interest in his coinage - the sestertii of Nero are considered by many to be the finest numismatic art of the Roman Empire.
RB84073. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 443 (S), Mac Dowall WCN 428, Giard Lyon 119, BnF II 83, Cohen I 262, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SGCV I -, VF, fine style, excellent portrait, attractive brown toning, obverse slightly off center, some light corrosion, weight 25.990 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of neck; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass and shields, wearing helmet and military garb, Victory in offering wreath in her right hand, her left hand resting on parazonium at side, right foot drawn back and resting on helmet, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field at center, ROMA in exergue; $1300.00 (€1157.00)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, 320 - 300 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.
SH79834. Silver nomos, SNG ANS 325; Sambon 450; BMC Italy p. 99, 53; Head HN 571; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, VF, finest style, well centered and struck on a tight flan, toned, scratches and bumps, small edge splits, weight 7.252 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, magistrate Olympios, 320 - 300 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph right, wearing pendant earring and pearl necklace, no legends or symbols; reverse man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, OΛ−YM−ΠI below, NEOΠOΛITHΣ exergue; ex Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, auction 216 (8 Oct 2012), lot 48; rare; $750.00 (€667.50) ON RESERVE


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Tyre, Phoenicia

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Dido, the founder and first queen of Carthage, is primarily known from Virgil's Aeneid. Upon succeeding their father as king of Tyre, Dido's brother Pygmalion had her husband Sichaeus killed in a plot to seize his immense wealth. Dido, with a large group of friends and followers, escaped Tyre, carrying with them all of Sichaeus' treasure. As depicted on the reverse of this coin, Dido made a sacrifice at the temple of Melqart-Hercules before leaving. The reverse on some other Valerian types, we know of one example struck with this same obverse die, depict Dido in Carthage beginning construction.
RP75357. Bronze dichalkon, Unpublished in the many references examined by Forum, cf. SNG Righetti 2354 (radiate and cuirassed bust), Rouvier 2503 (same), VF, well centered, porous, flan adjustment marks, weight 11.064 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 180o, Tyre mint, Oct 253 - Jun 260 A.D.; obverse IMP CP LIC VALERIANVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse COL TVRO MET, Dido standing right, kalathos on head, extending both hands toward a distyle temple of Melqart-Hercules in perspective to upper right, club within the temple, flaming column altar at her feet, murex shell on right below temple; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection; the best of the few examples of the type known to Forum; extremely rare; $640.00 (€569.60)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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In 146, Marcus Aurelius received the imperium proconsular and Faustina the Younger was given the title Augusta.
SH73156. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE IV 1669, RIC III 767a, Strack III 974, Cohen II 320, Hill UCR 709, SRCV II 4168, VF, nice green patina, nice portrait, light scratches, tight flan, weight 22.051 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 146 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG - PIVS P P TR P, laureate head right; reverse Antoninus in slow quadriga left, eagle-tipped scepter in left, reins in right, COS IIII / S C in two lines in exergue; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


Crispus, Caesar, 1 March 317 - 326 A.D.

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This type with a radiate head is unlisted in RIC VII but p. 379, 135, notes that Alföldi recorded the radiate head in RIN 1921, p. 118; citing a specimen in the Trau Collection with a PT mintmark (first officina), and another in the Gerin Collection with a TT mintmark (third officina). The note goes on to say the radiate bust type should be expected since the other rulers have parallel bust types in the issue, one of which is radiate. We know of eight total specimens of this type, but the Trau Collection coin is the only other first officina example known to Forum.
RL84331. Billon centenionalis, Alföldi RIN 1921, p. 118 (citing the Trau collection); RIC VII Ticinum 134 var. (laureate head, radiate head noted on p. 379), Choice EF, excellent bold and well-centered strike, attractive green patina, a few light marks, weight 2.947 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 320 A.D.; obverse CRISPVS NOB CAES, radiate head right; reverse DOMINORVM NOSTRORVM CAESS, VOT * V in two lines, the star in center, all within wreath tied at the bottom, PT in exergue; extremely rare; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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Virtus is the personification of valor and courage. Valor was, of course, essential for the success of a Roman emperor and Virtus was one of the embodiments of virtues that were part of the Imperial cult. During his joint reign with his father, Gallienus proved his courage in battle; but his failure to liberate his father from Persian captivity was perceived as cowardice and a disgrace to the Emperor and Empire. It was not, however, actually fear that prevented a rescue. While others mourned Valerian's fate, Gallienus rejoiced in his new sovereignty.
RB76153. Orichalcum sestertius, Göbl MIR 38dd, RIC V 248, Cohen V 1293, Hunter IV 33, SRCV III 10495, Nice gVF, excellent portrait, green patina, tight flan cutting off much legend, weight 10.962 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 253 - 255 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVGG (valor of the two emperors), Virtus standing left, wearing crested helmet and military garb, right resting hand on grounded shield, inverted spear vertical behind in left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $560.00 (€498.40)
 




  



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Eye Appeal