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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.
SL85595. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, NGC MS, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4377469-089), well centered, bold strike, some light marks, weight 17.18 g, maximum diameter 24 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; NGC certified (slabbed); ex Heritage Auction 231729, lot 63023; $2350.00 (2091.50)


Arados, Phoenicia, Unknown King "N", c. 348 - 338 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.
SH85437. Silver stater, BMC Phoenicia p. 10, 58; Betlyon 26, note 104, pl. 7, 4; Rouvier III p. 131, 5; HGC 10 33 (R1); Sunrise 114; SNG Cop -, VF, well centered on a tight flan, struck with high relief dies, test cut on obverse, weight 10.346 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 270o, Arados mint, c. 348 - 338 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 nun (Melech Arad N - King of Arados N) from right to left above, three waves below; rare; $1500.00 (1335.00)


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

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Mrida, 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. Mrida 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; $1350.00 (1201.50)


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, 404 - 370 B.C.

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When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late fifth century B.C., it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the local fountain nymph Larissa, for whom the town was named, probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses.
GS85151. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 380.18 (same dies), Lorber Early group IV H23, 65.1(a) (this obv. die), BCD Thessaly I 1144.2, Hoover HGC 430, Choice VF, toned, fine style, areas of light etching, weight 6.075 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, 404 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly right, wearing necklace, hair confined by ampyx and floating loosely; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, dotted exergual line, ΛAPI above; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); $800.00 (712.00)


Mesembria, Thrace, c. 275 - 225 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Thrace was invaded by the Galatians in 279 B.C. Only the wealthy coastal cities, including Mesembria, withstood their attacks. Following that chaos, rule of Thrace was divided between many tribes. Philip V, 221 - 179 B.C., tried to regain control of the area for the Macedonian Kingdom, but his success was limited and short lived. Mesembria was taken by Mithradates VI in the First Mithradatic War and surrendered to Rome in 71 B.C. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms as early as 275 B.C., more than 50 years after Alexander's death, and probably issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms struck anywhere, possibly under Roman rule as late as 65 B.C.
SH85286. Silver tetradrachm, Karayotov p. 84 and pl. VII, 41 (O7/R18); Price 992; Mller Alexander 436, gVF, attractive style, light marks and scratches, weight 17.000 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 180o, Mesambria (Nesebar, Bulgaria) mint, c. 275 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Corinthian helmet right over ΠA monogram in inner left field under arm; ex FORVM (2013); $700.00 (623.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 323 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
SH85062. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Mller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, Choice VF, well centered and struck, toned, light marks and scratches, weight 17.205 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, c. 322 - 320 A.D.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Macedonian helmet left; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1209; $600.00 (534.00)


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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In angst at not seducing Ulysses with her voice, the siren Parthenope, threw herself into the sea and died. Her body washed up on the shore near Neapolis. There she was not envisioned as one of the insidious monsters of Homer, but rather like a dead hero, she was enshrined and deified and her name was given to an early settlement on the site. Neapolis held funerary torch-races to commemorate Parthenope and her nearby tomb and sanctuary were among the local places of interest. The river god Achelous was her father.
GS84679. Silver nomos, SNG Cop 440; SNG ANS 381; BMC Italy 100, 63; Sambon 483; HN Italy 586; SNG Cop -, Choice VF, fine style, toned, well centered on a tight flan, porous, weight 7.114 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 45o, Neapolis mint, c. 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse head of siren Parthenope left, wearing taenia, triple-pendant earring, and necklace, EY behind neck; reverse the river-god Achelous in the form of a man-faced bull, walking left, head turned facing, Nike flying left above, placing wreath on river-god's head, ΛOY below, NEOΠOΛITHΣ in exergue; $580.00 (516.20)


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; $540.00 (480.60)


Trebonianus Gallus, June or July 251 - April or August 253 A.D.

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This scarce type commemorates Trebonianus Gallus' decennalian vows, prayers and sacrifices he made to the gods that they might help him successfully achieve his tenth anniversary of rule. In a religious context, votum, plural vota, is a vow or promise made to a deity. The word comes from the past participle of voveo, vovere; as the result of the verbal action, a vow, or promise. It may refer also to the fulfillment of this vow, that is, the thing promised. The votum is thus an aspect of the contractual nature of Roman religion and sacrifice, a bargaining expressed by "do ut des" (I give that you might give).
RB76162. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC 127a (R), Cohen V 137 (10 fr.), Hunter III 29, Banti 38, SRCV III 9683, VF, nice portrait, nice patina, well centered on a crowded flan, weight 17.910 g, maximum diameter 28.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, special emission, August - October 251 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES C VIBIVS TREBONIANVS GALLVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VOTIS / DECENNA / LIBVS / S C in four lines within laurel wreath tied at the bottom and closed with a jewel at the top; rarities; $540.00 (480.60)


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 (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; $500.00 (445.00)




    



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Eye Appeal