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When first introduced to ancient coins, most people are shocked to learn that some coins remain in mint state and even more surprised to learn that they are not all in musuems. Ancient people did not have stocks, bonds mutual funds, or bank accounts. The primary implement for holding wealth was coins, often buried, and often buried in uncirculated or mint state condition. If an owner died without recovering their coins or telling an heir where to find them, they were lost. Millions of ancient coins have been recovered, and thousands have been found in superb condition.
Macedonian Kingdom, Philip II of Macedonia, 359 - 336 B.C.
Philip II expanded the size and influence of the Macedonian Kingdom but is perhaps best known as the father of Alexander the Great. He personally selected the design of his coins.SH85135. Gold stater, Le Rider pl. 75, 63 (D31/R52), SNG ANS 251 (also same dies), SNG Cop 523, aEF, finestyle, sculptural high relief obverse die, some mint luster, very light marks, weight 8.572 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 315o, Amphipolis mint, 340/336 - 328 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, charioteer driving a racing biga right, wearing a himation, kentron in right hand, reins in his left hand, ivy leaf right below horses; $4000.00 SALE PRICE $3600.00
Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.
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) RS85086. Silver denarius, RIC I 167a, BMCRE I 451, RSC I 137, BnF I 1373, Hunter I 197, SRCV I 1610, Choice near Mint State, well centered and struck, lustrous, very light rose-gold toning, some light marks and deposits, weight 3.606 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverseAVGVSTVS DIVI•F, bare head right, dot border; reverse bull butting right, left foreleg raised, lashing tail, IMP•X in exergue, linear border; $2500.00 SALE PRICE $2250.00
Athens, Greece, Old StyleTetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.
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. SL85478. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (4377469-186), weight 17.16 g, maximum diameter c. 26 mm, die axis 225o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obversehead 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; ex Heritage auction 231724, lot 63017; $2250.00 SALE PRICE $2025.00 ON RESERVE
Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.
This was the first coin issued in Caesar's name. It was minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus. The symbolism on the obverse appears to be the triumph of good over evil. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus (high priest of Rome).SH84764. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, near Mint State, light toning on luster, broad flan, uneven strike, reverse 1/5 off center, weight 3.834 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 30o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverseelephant walking right trampling on a dragon or carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); ex Harlan J. Berk; $1570.00 SALE PRICE $1413.00
Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Emerita, HispaniaLusitania
Mérida, 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. Mérida 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 CAESARAVGVST, 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; $1500.00 SALE PRICE $1350.00
Zeno, 18 January - 17 November 474 and August 476 - 11 April 491 A.D.
Gold never tarnishes, however, ancient gold coins were never pure gold. There is always a small amount of silver in the gold and for reasons that only a chemist could explain, the small amount of silver sometimes tones slightly red. This coin is attractive red toned gold.SH85084. Gold solidus, RIC X 929, DOCLR 633, Depeyrot 108/1, Tolstoi 16, SRCV V 21514, Ratto -, Choice about Uncirculated, well centered and struck, lustrous with red tone, weight 4.456 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491, 5th issue; obverse D N ZENOPERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed, trefoil on front of crested helmet, cuirassed, spear in right over shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down and spearing enemy; reverse VICTORI-A AVGGG ∆ (victory of the three emperors, 4th officina), Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; $1210.00 SALE PRICE $1089.00
Byzantine Empire, Nicephorus I and Stauracius, December 803 - 25 July 811 A.D.
Nicephorus, the logothete (lord high treasurer) under Empress Irene, gained rule in a palace coup. At the Battle of Pliska, the Bulgarian Khan, Krum, surprised and slew Nicephorus along with a large portion of the Byzantine army. Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nicephorus' skull. Stauracius escaped the battle to Constantinople but was mortally wounded. He surrendered his throne to his brother-in-law, retired to a monastery, and died soon after.SH83915. Gold solidus, DOC III, part 1, 2c.2; Wroth BMC 8; Tolstoi 9; Ratto 1786; Berk Gold 238; Sommer 27.1; SBCV 1604, EF, lustrous, well centered on a tight flan, weight 4.349 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, 10th officina, Constantinople mint, 803 - 811 A.D.; obverse hICI-FOROS bASILE', bearded facing bust of Nicephorus, wearing chlamys and cross with crown, cross potent on base in right hand, akakia in left hand, no pellet left; reverse STAVRA-CIS dESPO' X, unbearded facing bust of Stauracius, wearing chlamys and cross with crown, globus cruciger in right hand, akakia in left hand; from the Robert Watcher Collection, ex Heritage CICF auction (Chicago, Apr 2013), lot 3024 ($940 plus fees); scarce; $1010.00 SALE PRICE $909.00
Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.
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) SH85057. Silver denarius, RIC I 167b, BMCRE I 455, RSC I 139, BnF I 1386, Hunter I 197 var. (head right), SRCV I 1610 var. (same), aEF, attractive dark toning, nice style, flat area near temple, weight 3.868 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverseAVGVSTVS DIVI•F, bare head left, border of dots; reverse bull butting right, left foreleg raised, lashing tail, IMP•X in exergue, linear border; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1561; $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00
Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG II
This may have been II Sabina, disbanded by Augustus. The well-known II Augusta, which took part in the conquest of Britain and was later stationed in South Wales, was one of Octavian's legions, and so not likely to be the Second Legion referred to on this coin. Other Second Legions (Adiutrix, Italica, Parthica and Traiana) were raised much later in imperial times.SH85060. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/14, Sydenham 1216, BMCRR II East 190, RSC I 27, Sear CRI 349, EF, well centered bold strike on a tight flan, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 3.875 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae(?) mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANT•AVG / III VIR•R•P•C, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - II, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 244, lot 441; $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00
Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG VIII
Caesar's old VIII Gallica was not disbanded and later became the VIII Augusta; however, that legion was associated with Octavian rather than Antony.SH85063. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/21, Sydenham 1225, BMCRR II East 199, RSC I 35, EF, obverse off center, weight 3.830 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae(?) mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANT•AVG / III VIR•R•P•C, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - VIII, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1560; $875.00 SALE PRICE $788.00