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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!


Byzantine Empire, Justinian II, 10 July 685 - Late 695 and Summer 705 - 4 November 711 A.D., Portrait of Christ

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The portrait on this coin was based on an icon believed by the people of the time to bear a miraculous resemblance to Christ’s actual appearance.
SH73339. Gold solidus, DOC II, part 2, 2nd reign, 2b; Wroth BMC 1; Morrisson BnF 12; Tolstoi 2; Ratto 1705; Hahn MIB 2b; Sommer 17.3; SBCV 1415, EF, lustrous, nearly as struck, weight 4.365 g, maximum diameter 20.418 mm, die axis 0o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, 705 - 711 A.D.; obverse O N IhS ChS REX - REGNANTIYM, bust of Christ facing, curly hair, short beard, wearing pallium and colobium, Gospels in left, cross behind head; reverse IYSTINIANYS ET TIbERIYS PP A, Justinian (on left) and Tiberius, half-length facing, each wears crown, divitision and chlamys, holding cross potent on three steps in center; for this extraordinary type, since 2000 only 16 auction sales are recorded on Coin Archives Pro; rare; $5200.00 (€4524.00)
 


Selinus, Sicily, c. 455 - 409 B.C.

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According to Head this type commemorated the cure of a plague at Selinus by the philosopher and physician Empedokles of Akragas. Empedokles stopped the plaque, perhaps malaria, by joining the channels of two streams and clearing the stagnant waters of the surrounding marsh. Apollo, the bringer of plaque, but also a healing god and the father of Asklepios, is battling the plaque with his arrows. The river-god Selinos offers a libation to the healing god for cleansing the waters. The cock is sacred to Asklepios.

Hill notes the engraver's signature is clear on the SNG Lloyd coin from the same dies and on another example in the Bibliothèque National. Unfortunately it is not clear on this coin, thought there are perhaps some traces visible. This engraver also worked at Syracuse and was among the earliest to sign his dies there.
SH75667. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Lloyd 1237 (same dies), SNG ANS 699 (same dies), SNG Cop -, EF, nicely centered and struck, uneven toning of obverse at 4:00, weight 17.060 g, maximum diameter 26.5 mm, die axis 0o, Selinunte mint, c. 455 - 409 B.C.; obverse Artemis driving a quadriga right, Apollo standing beside her drawing his bow, a barley ear in exergue; reverse ΣEΛ−INONTI−ON, river-god Selinos standing slightly left, nude, sacrificing from phiale in right hand over a low flaming altar at feet, palm-fronds in left hand, rooster left in front of the altar, selinon leaf in right field above a bull left on a base, tiny signature of the engraver, ΣΩΣIΩN below ground line; rare; $3800.00 (€3306.00)
 


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; $1800.00 (€1566.00)
 


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH73442. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 99; SNG Cop 321; SNGvA 1729; HGC 6 1025; Boston MFA 1735; Weber 5631, gVF, fine style, minor die wear, weight 2.564 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Kabeiros right, wearing wreath and pileus, two stars flanking cap; reverse head of Persephone right in linear square; ex Triton XVII (6 - 7 Jan 2015), lot 599; ex CNG auction 72 (14 Jun 2006), lot 714; $1300.00 (€1131.00)
 


Otho, February - 9 March 69 A.D.

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The second issue of Otho is characterized by the missing M in the obverse legend and a changed coiffure. This combined with the serene portrait makes this particular die one of the nicest ones available.
SH72955. Silver denarius, RIC I 10, RSC II 15, BMCRE I 19, BnF III 11, SRCV I 2163, VF, superb portrait, nicely toned, well centered on a tight flan, weight 3.475 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Feb - 9 Mar 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse SECVRITAS P R, Securitas standing left, wreath in right, long scepter in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex CNG, ex Harlan J. Berk; rare; $1200.00 (€1044.00)
 


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; $1100.00 (€957.00)
 


Seleucid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C.

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Seleucus founded the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire which ruled until Pompey made Syria a Roman province in 63 B.C. After Alexander's death, Seleucus was made satrap of Babylon. Antigonus forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH75318. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 13.2, SNG Spaer 2, Newell WSM 923, Houghton CSE 8, aEF, magnificent high-relief obverse, a superb example of the finest Hellenistic art, weight 17.046 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 300 - 281 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Zeus enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, nike offering wreath in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, monogram left; $950.00 (€826.50) ON RESERVE


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 454 - 427 B.C.

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Mytilene revolted against Athens in 428 B.C. but was overcome by an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children into slavery but changed its mind the next day. A fast trireme sailed the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought the decision to cancel the massacre.
SH73118. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 52; HGC 6 978, gVF, obverse slightly off center, weight 2.546 g, maximum diameter 10.8 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 454 - 427 B.C.; obverse young male head right, hair in band; reverse wreathed male head right, wearing long beard, in incuse square; ex CNG auction 342, lot 272; $900.00 (€783.00)
 


Persian Empire, Carian Satrapy, Pixodaros, c. 340 - 335 B.C.

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Pixodarus was the youngest of the three sons of Hecatomnus, all of whom successively ruled. To secure the friendship of Philip II, king of Macedonia, Pixodarus offered his eldest daughter in marriage to his Philip's son Arrhidaeus. Arrhidaeus' ambitious younger brother, Alexander (later Alexander the Great) offered himself instead. Pixodarus eagerly agreed but Philip put an end to the scheme. Pixodarus died, apparently a natural death, before Alexander landed in Asia in 334 B.C. and was succeeded by his Persian son-in-law Orontobates.
SH90963. Silver didrachm, SNG Cop 597; SNGvA 2375; SNG Keckman 280; SNG Kayhan 891; SNG Lockett 2913; BMC Caria p. 185, 5 ff.; Weber 6608; SGCV II 4966, gVF, some nicks or flan flaws, some pitting, toned, weight 7.000 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Mylasa mint, c. 340 - 335 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo facing slightly right; reverse ΠIΞΩ∆APOY, Zeus Labraundos standing right, labrys (double-headed axe) over shoulder in right, lotus-tipped scepter vertical in left; $870.00 (€756.90)
 


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

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Macrinus was the first emperor who was not of Senatorial rank, his birth was obscure, and he had never distinguished himself in any matter of public service. Rumors soon spread that he was born a slave, was trained as gladiator, and was complicit in Caracalla's murder. Doomed from the moment his father took the purple, Diadumenian paid with his life for his father's hubris.
SL70860. Silver denarius, RIC IV 102a, BMCRE V 87, RSC III 3, SRCV II 7449, NGC Ch XF, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (4161195-005), weight 2.79 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, as caesar, 11 Apr 217 - mid May 218 A.D.; obverse M OPEL ANT DIADVMENIAN CAES, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse PRINC IVVENTVTIS, Diadumenian standing slightly left, head right, in military dress, standard in right, short scepter in left, two grounded standards behind on right; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; scarce; $800.00 (€696.00)
 




    



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