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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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Nero considered himself an artist, perhaps he was and took an interest in his coinage - the sestertii of Nero are considered by many to be the finest numismatic art of the Roman Empire.
RB84073. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 443 (S), Mac Dowall WCN 428, Giard Lyon 119, BnF II 83, Cohen I 262, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SGCV I -, VF, fine style, excellent portrait, attractive brown toning, obverse slightly off center, some light corrosion, weight 25.990 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of neck; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass and shields, wearing helmet and military garb, Victory in offering wreath in her right hand, her left hand resting on parazonium at side, right foot drawn back and resting on helmet, S - C flanking across field at center, ROMA in exergue; $1450.00 (€1290.50)
 


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

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Strabo wrote, "The Romans possess Lugdunum, founded below a ridge at the confluence of the Arar and the Rhone. It is the most populous of all the other cities except Narbo; for it is a center of commerce, and the Roman emperors strike their silver and gold coinage there." (4.3.2)

SH84233. Silver denarius, RIC I 167a, BMCRE I 451, RSC I 137, BnF I 1373, SRCV I 1610, Choice EF, nearly as struck, lustrous, slight die wear, weight 3.887 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverse AVGVSTVS DIVI•F, bare head right; reverse bull butting right, IMP•X in exergue; $1370.00 (€1219.30)
 


Macrinus, 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D.

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Macrinus was Praetorian Prefect for Caracalla but arranged Caracalla's assassination and seized power. He and his son were accepted by the senate. The Syrian legions, inspired by Julia Maesa, Caracalla's aunt, revolted after he concluded an unfavorable peace with the Persians. He was defeated and executed.
SL84525. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 139 (S), BMCRE V 120 var. (also draped, noted), Cohen IV 66 71, SRCV II 7386, Hunter III -, Ch VF, strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (4373010-005), lovely mahogany tone with lighter tones on the high points, weight 20.5 g, maximum diameter 31 mm, die axis 15o, Rome mint, 11 Apr 217 - 31 Dec 217 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse PONTIF MAX TR P COS P P, Felicitas standing facing, head left, long caduceus in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, drapery over left arm, S - C flanking across field below center; NGC Certified, ex Stacks-Bowers; $990.00 (€881.10)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, 320 - 300 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH79834. Silver nomos, SNG ANS 325; Sambon 450; BMC Italy p. 99, 53; Head HN 571; SNG Cop -; SNG München -, VF, finest style, well centered and struck on a tight flan, toned, scratches and bumps, small edge splits, weight 7.252 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, magistrate Olympios, 320 - 300 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph right, wearing pendant earring and pearl necklace, no legends or symbols; reverse man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, OΛ−YM−ΠI below, NEOΠOΛITHΣ exergue; ex Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, auction 216 (8 Oct 2012), lot 48; rare; $750.00 (€667.50)
 


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; $640.00 (€569.60)
 


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, Göbl 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 flanking across field; $630.00 (€560.70)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with rare examples signed E or EΞ. Stylistic differences suggest other engravers also worked the issue. This example, signed EE, is of the very finest style and clearly the work of Exakestidas. EΞ was probably intended. No other examples of the type signed EE are known to Forum.
SH83659. Bronze tetras, cf. Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29 (unlisted dies); SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Mün 1107; HGC 2 1432 (R1, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Tübingen -; SNG Morcom -, aEF, the finest style, nice green patina, light corrosion, edge flaws, weight 2.23 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing taenia, earring, and necklace, anepigraphic, EE (master engraver signature, blundered EΞ for Exakestidas) lower left below hair; reverse octopus; ex Savoca Numismatik GmbH & Co. KG, auction 6 (9 Apr 2015), lot 68; $630.00 (€560.70)
 


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 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; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


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; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


Akragas, Sicily, 338 - 317 B.C.

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Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Akragas was founded c. 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela. It grew rapidly, becoming second only to Syracuse in importance on Sicily but was sacked by Carthage in 406 B.C. and never fully recovered. It was renamed Agrigentum after it fell to Rome in 210 B.C.
GI76352. Bronze AE 18, Calciati I p. 206, 116 R1 2; SNG ANS 1113; HGC 2 164; SNG Cop 95 var.; SNG München -, gVF, superb style, nice green patina, tight flan, weight 6.283 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 270o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, 338 - 317 B.C.; obverse AKPA−ΓA, laureate head of Zeus left; reverse eagle standing left, wings open, tearing at hare left in talons, ∆ below wings; $500.00 (€445.00)
 




    



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