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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!


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

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Vitellius' children, portrayed on this denarius, thought to have been named Vitellius Germanicus and Vitellia, were born to his second wife, Galeria Fundana. When Vitellius was made emperor by the senate, his son, who was about six years old, was sent to Lugdunum to meet him upon his arrival from Germany. The boy may have perished with his father, others say he was executed in 70, on orders of the praetorian prefect Licinius Mucianus. Vespasian arranged an excellent marriage for Vitellius' daughter and provided her with a wedding gown and dowry. Vitellius had another son, Petronianus, by his first wife. He died long before Vitellius became emperor. It was widely believed that Vitellius had poisoned him.
SH77008. Silver denarius, RIC I 103, RSC II 2, BMCRE I 29, BnF III 62, Hunter I -, SRCV I -, attractive gVF, fine style portraits, old cabinet toning, tight flan as usual for the type, light marks and scratches, closed flan crack, weight 3.208 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, late Apr - 20 Dec 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVGVST TR P, laureate head right; reverse LIBERI IMP GERMAN, confronted draped busts of Vitellius' son (on left) and daughter (thought to have been named Vitellius Germanicus and Vitellia); from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare; $8000.00 (7120.00)


Kelenderis, Cilicia, c. 425 - 350 B.C.

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Kelenderis was a port town, one of the oldest in Cilicia, described in Hellenistic and Roman sources as a small, but strong castle. The rider on the obverse may be Castor, who was not only a horse trainer but also the protector of sailors, an appropriate type for a port town.
SH70330. Silver stater, SNG Levante 23 (same dies); SNG Cop 83 (same dies); SNGvA 5631 (same dies); BMC Lycaonia p. 54, 20 ff. var. (no dolphin); SNG BnF 66 var. (same), VF, superb style, well centered, light toning, weight 10.685 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 270o, Kelenderis mint, c. 425 - 350 B.C.; obverse nude horseman facing sidesaddle on horse rearing right, whip in right; reverse KEΛEN, goat kneeling right, looking back, dolphin right in exergue; $1400.00 (1246.00)


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


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; $800.00 (712.00)


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)


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 477 - 388 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.
SH79729. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 93b; Boston MFA 1921; SNGvA 7954; BMC Ionia p. 212, 63; SNG Cop -, aVF, attractive style, tight flan, light bumps and scratches, closed crack, weight 2.524 g, maximum diameter 10.0 mm, Phocaea mint, c. 477 - 388 B.C.; obverse head of a female (nymph?) left, wearing drop earring, wavy hair on forehead and before ear, sakkos covering most of hair including chignon, small seal behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $660.00 (587.40)


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

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Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.
SH71000. Bronze AE 22, SNG Cop 640; BMC Pontus p. 210, 8; SNGvA 256 var. (monogram); Rec Gn 26; HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, Choice VF, nice style, weight 6.393 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, NΦ monogram inner right under raised foreleg; $640.00 (569.60)




    



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Eye Appeal