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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!


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH77464. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Mnchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, EF, well centered on a tight flan, light marks, weight 17.164 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 135o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 233 (6 Oct 2015), lot 1431; $1950.00 (1735.50) ON RESERVE


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

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Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.
SH70877. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer 509 (V268/R362), SNG ANS 162 (same dies), VF, attractive Arethusa, obverse die worn, edge flaw, weight 16.852 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 460 - 450 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, reins in both hands, Nike flying right above crowning horses, ketos swimming right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, diademed head of Arethusa right, hair rolled and tucked under diadem, wearing earring and necklace, four dolphins swimming around clockwise; $1620.00 (1441.80)


Syracuse, Sicily, Tyrant Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

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With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
SH79280. Silver tetradrachm, Ierardi 40 (O7/R23), SNG ANS 639 (same dies), SNG Delepierre 701, SNG Lloyd 1479, Boston MFA 460, HGC 2 1348 (S), SNG Cop -, SNG Mnchen -, gVF, superb classical style, excellent centering on a tight flan, toned, flan flaw on obverse, weight 16.954 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 317 - 310/305 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone (or Arethusa) left, crowned with grain, wearing triple-drop earrings and a pearl necklace, surrounded by three dolphins, NI below; reverse quadriga galloping left, young charioteer wearing long chiton, kentron in right hand, reins in left hand, triskeles above; ΣYPAKOΣIΩN over AI monogram in exergue; ex Helios Numismatik, auction 6 (9 March 2011), lot 345; scarce; $1220.00 (1085.80) ON RESERVE


Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 290 - 280 B.C.

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Demeter in Greek mythology is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure; nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death; and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century B.C. she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons," a subtle sign that she was worshipped long before she was made one of the Olympians. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon.
SH77370. Silver nomos, Johnston class D, 4.15 (same dies); SNG ANS 517; HN Italy 1625; BMC Italy -, EF, deeply struck from high relief dies of exquisite style, toned, weight 7.644 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 45o, Metapontion mint, c. 290 - 280 B.C.; obverse head of Demeter right, wreathed in grain, ∆ behind; reverse barley ear with six rows of grains, META on left, leaf on right, star over two amphoras above leaf, ΦI below leaf; ex Forum (2014); ex Heritage auction 231402, lot 64007 (9 Jan 2014); ex CNG auction 79 (17 Sep 2008), lot 23; ex Paul H. Gerrie Collection with tag; ex Pegasi; $1130.00 (1005.70)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH77471. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Mnchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, gVF, well centered on tight flan, light toning, some die wear, light marks, weight 17.170 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; $1100.00 (979.00)


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; $990.00 (881.10)


Diadumenian, Mid May - 8 June 218 A.D.

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Diadumenian was the son of Macrinus, made Caesar at the age of nine in 217 A.D. and Augustus in 218. After his father's defeat he fled towards Parthia but was overtaken and executed.
SH77397. Silver denarius, RIC IV 107.1a (S), RSC III 12; Hunter III 1, cf. BMCRE V p. 508, M82 (antoninianus, but denarius noted); SRCV II -, NGC AU (about uncirculated) (3819479-44); full circle centering, mint luster, weight 2.935 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, as caesar, 11 Apr 217 - mid May 218 A.D.; obverse M OPEL DIADVMENIANVS CAES, bare-headed and draped bust right, from behind; reverse PRINC IVVENTVTIS (prince of youth), Diadumenian standing slightly left, head left, in military dress, baton in right hand, scepter nearly vertical in left hand, legionary aquila and standard standing in ground behind him on right; certified (slabbed) by NGC; ex FORVM (2009); scarce; $750.00 (667.50)


Vitellius, 2 January - 20 December 69 A.D.

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In July 69, Vitellius learned that the armies of the eastern provinces had proclaimed their commander, Vespasian, as emperor. Vitellius, aware that he would be defeated, negotiated terms of resignation, but the praetorians refused to allow him to carry out the agreement, and forced him to return to the palace. When Vespasian's troops entered Rome he was dragged out of a lodge where he was hiding, taken to the fatal Gemonian stairs, and executed. His body was thrown into the Tiber according to Suetonius; Cassius Dio's account is that Vitellius was beheaded and his head paraded around Rome, and his wife attended to his burial. "Yet I was once your emperor," were his last words. His brother and son were also killed.
SH72950. Silver denarius, RIC I 107 (S), RSC II 72, BMCRE I 34, BnF III 71, Hunter I 17, SRCV I 2200, gVF/VF, superb bold portrait, nice toning, a few minor marks, weight 3.055 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jul - 20 Dec 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P, laureate head right; reverse PONT MAXIM, Vesta seated right on throne with back, veiled, draped, patera in right hand, long scepter in left hand vertical on left (far) side; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Baldwin & Sons (2009); scarce; $720.00 (640.80)


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, Gbl 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, Virtus standing left, wearing crested helmet and military garb, right resting hand on grounded shield, inverted spear vertical behind in left, S - C flanking across field; $700.00 (623.00)


Taras, Calabria, Italy, c. 272 - 240 B.C.

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Taras, the only Spartan colony, was founded in 706 B.C. The founders were Partheniae ("sons of virgins"), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta). These out-of-wedlock unions were permitted to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens could be soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars. Later, however, when they were no longer needed, their citizenship was retroactively nullified and the sons were obliged to leave Greece forever. Their leader, Phalanthus, consulted the oracle at Delphi and was told to make the harbor of Taranto their home. They named the city Taras after the son of Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. The reverse depicts Taras being saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent to him by Poseidon. This symbol of the ancient Greek city is still the symbol of modern Taranto today.
SH75331. Silver nomos, SNG Cop 927, Vlasto 890, HN Italy 1037, gVF, fine style, well centered on a tight flan, toned, some marks, scratches, and light corrosion, weight 6.332 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, Taras (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 272 - 240 BC; obverse |−HPAK/ΛHTOΣ below, helmeted and cuirassed warrior on horseback right, shield on his back, transverse spear downward in right hand; reverse TAPAΣ, Phalanthos on dolphin left, flower in extended right, cornucopia in left hand, EΓ monogram and thymiaterion (incense burner) behind; $670.00 (596.30)




    



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Eye Appeal