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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!

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

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References disagree on who is the empress beside Nero. Most simply say empress. Sear (SRCV I) and Giard (BnF II) say the empress is Livia. RSC II says Messalina, but this type is now dated to the time of Nero's marriage to Poppaea Sabina. Nobody says it is his mother Agrippina, because he had her murdered in 59 A.D. We think it is Poppaea.

According to Tacitus, Poppaea was ambitious and ruthless. He reports that Poppaea married Otho to get close to Nero and then, in turn, became Nero's favorite mistress, and then wife. She bore Nero one daughter, Claudia Augusta, born on 21 January 63, who died at only four months of age. At the birth of Claudia, Nero honored mother and child with the title of Augusta. According to Suetonius, while she was awaiting the birth of her second child in the summer of 65, she quarreled fiercely with Nero over his spending too much time at the races. In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, causing her death.
RS72960. Silver denarius, post reform; RIC I 45 (R), BMCRE I 54, RSC II 43 (Messalina), BnF II 201 (Livia), Hunter I 24, SRCV I 1940 (Livia), EF, excellent portrait, fantastic reverse style, weight 3.402 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 - 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse AVGVSTVS AVGVSTA, Nero, on left, standing slightly left, radiate and togate, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; empress on right, standing left, veiled and draped, patera in right hand, double cornucopia in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Imperial Coins; rare; $3000.00 (2640.00)

Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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As reported by B.V. Head in Chapter 5 of Excavations at Ephesus: The Archaic Artemisia, a coin of this type was one of five coins found in excavations underneath the foundations of the southern wall of the B cella of the Artemisia at Ephesus. The other four coins were lion head and lion paw types. Head wrote these coins must have been deposited during construction of the First Temple (A). Weidauer 145 is the coin found at the Artemisia (= Head Artemisia 79), now at the Arkeoloji Mzesi, Istanbul. The Weidauer coins have more wear (die wear?) than our coin, but do appear to be from the same obverse die.
SH75300. Electrum 1/24 stater, Milesian standard; Weidauer 145 - 146; Head Artemisia p. 86 and pl. 2, 79; cf. SNGvA 1781 (different style); Rosen 287 (same); SNG Kayhan 717 (same), EF, perhaps the finest known of a very rare and important type, weight 0.597 g, maximum diameter 6.7 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse bridled head and neck of Pegasos left, with top edge of wing visible; reverse raised cross pattern within incuse square punch; ex Tkalec AG auction Feb 2013, lot 88, realized 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,151) plus fees; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 199 (10 Oct 2011), realized 2,000 EUR ($2,699) plus fees; very rare; $2880.00 (2534.40)

Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

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SH75694. Silver denarius, RIC I 19 (R2), RSC II 9, BMCRE I 6, BnF III 22, SRCV I 2158, aEF, toned, die break on obverse, flan flaw on reverse, weight 3.526 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PONT MAX, Aequitas standing left, scales in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; ex New York Sale XXVIII (5 Jan 2012), lot 1063; rare; $2750.00 (2420.00)

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 (1584.00)

Pertinax, 31 December 192 - 28 March 193 A.D.

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Pertinax was the son of a humble charcoal-burner. After a successful career in the military, as a senator and then as praefect of the city of Rome, he reluctantly accepted the throne offered by the murderers of Commodus. After a reign of only 86 day he was murdered by mutinous guards.
SH72991. Silver denarius, RIC IV 13a, BMCRE V 25, RSC III 56, Hunter III 7, SRCV II 6048, EF, excellent portrait, toned, weight 3.180 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1 Jan - 28 Mar 193 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES P HELV PERTIN AVG, laureate head right; reverse VOT DECEN TR P COS II, Pertinax standing left, veiled, sacrificing over lit altar from a patera in right; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare (R2); $1800.00 (1584.00)

Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

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With this coin Otho claimed there was peace all over the world. It was true that at the time it was struck there was peace along all the borders of the empire, which was a rare event because Rome was almost always engaged in some war with the nations and tribes that surrounded it. It was, however, an absurdity, in the midst of a civil war within the borders, to acclamation peace on the borders as peace all over the world.
SH75695. Silver denarius, RIC I 4, RSC II 3, BMCRE I 3, BnF III 3, SRCV I 2156, VF, superb portrait, nice toning, scratches, reverse center flatly struck, weight 3.518 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - Feb 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PAX ORBIS TERRARVM (All the World at Peace), Pax standing left, olive-branch in right hand, caduceus in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; rare; $1800.00 (1584.00)

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 (1144.00)

Herbessos, Sicily, c. 344 - 335 B.C.

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The site of the native Sikel Herbessos is uncertain but it was probably located near Leontinoi. Like other Sikel towns, it supported Carthage against Syracuse, however, in 396 B.C. Herbessos formed an alliance with Dionysos I. In 310 B.C., Agathokles installed a garrison to hold it against Carthage. In 309 B.C., with the aid of Akragas, the city expelled the garrison and claimed its freedom. In the Punic Wars, Herbessos was repeatedly held by Carthage until taken by Rome. About 213 B.C., Herbesso became a civitas decumana, paying 1/10th of its annual harvest to Rome. Although it probably continued to exist for centuries, it then disappears from history.
GI72187. Bronze drachm, Castrizio series II, 1 (354- 344 B.C); Calciati III, p. 252, 4; SNG Morcom 593; SNG Lloyd 1002; Rizzo pl. LIX, 17; HGC 2 411 (R2), VF, overstruck on Syracuse drachm, weight 32.639 g, maximum diameter 33.1 mm, die axis 270o, Herbessos mint, c. 344 - 335 B.C.; obverse EPBEΣΣINΩN, head of Sikelia right, hair adorned with myrtle olive wreath; reverse forepart of man-faced bull right; big bronze!; rare; $1200.00 (1056.00)

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 (1056.00)

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 (968.00)



Catalog current as of Friday, October 09, 2015.
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Eye Appeal