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?
Byzantine Empire, Justinian II, 10 July 685 - Late 695 and Summer 705 - 4 November 711 A.D., Portrait of Christ
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)
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
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.
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.
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)
Persian Empire, Carian Satrapy, Pixodaros, c. 340 - 335 B.C.
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; $970.00 (€843.90)
Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 454 - 427 B.C.
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)
Diadumenian, Mid May - 8 June 218 A.D.
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)
Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.
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 Gén 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; $800.00 (€696.00)
Carinus, First Half 283 - Spring 285 A.D.
RB71344. Bronze antoninianus, RIC V 152, Bastien 492, Choice aEF, fantastic style, perfect centering, weight 4.691 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 2nd emission of Carus, October 282 A.D.; obverse CARINVS NOBIL CAES, radiate and cuirassed bust left, spear (or scepter?) over shoulder in right, shield ornamented with head of gorgoneion in left; reverse SAECVLI FELICITAS, Carinus standing right, transverse spear in right, globe in left, D right; beautiful coin!; $800.00 (€696.00)
Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great
Lampsacus was known as center for worship of Priapus, who was said to have been born there.
Thompson notes that Lampsacus was Lysimachos' largest mint in Asia Minor, with approximately 150 known obverse dies. Output from Lampsacus declined when Amphipolis began its extensive coinage c. 288 B.C.SH72206. Silver tetradrachm, Gorny & Mosch auction 138 (7 Mar 2005), lot 1196; Thompson -, Müller -, SNG Cop -, SNG BnF -, SNG Delepierre -, SNG Tüb -, Arnold-Biucchi -, et al. -, Nice gVF, fine style, sculptural high relief, nice toning, light marks, weight 16.910 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain mint, c. 280 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of deified Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in extended right hand, left arm rests on grounded round shield decorated with Gorgoneion, transverse spear against right side, Λ/ο monogram inner left; unpublished in the references examined by Forum, one other example referenced from trade; ex Roma Numismatics auction 11, lot 39; very rare; $760.00 (€661.20)
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