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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Quality ▸ High GradeView Options:  |  |  |   

High Grade Ancient Coins

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.


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

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Augustus' sun sign was Libra. We don't know why he selected the Capricorn as his emblem. Perhaps Capricorn was either his rising sign or his Moon sign. Popular astrology, of the newspaper kind, is sun sign astrology. The ancients tended to attach more importance to the Moon sign and rising signs. Perhaps Augustus selected the Capricorn because it is associated with stern moral authority.
SH84736. Silver denarius, BnF I 1271 (same dies, attributed to auxiliary workshop, Colonia Patricia), RIC I 126 (R2), RSC I 21, BMCRE I 346, Hunter I 145, SRCV I 1592, Choice aMS, nearly as struck, mint luster, well centered and bold strike, a few light marks, obverse die wear, weight 3.809 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Spanish (Colonia Patricia?) mint, 16 B.C.; obverse bare head right, dot border, anepigraphic; reverse capricorn right, filleted cornucopia overflowing with grain and fruit on its back, celestial globe and rudder with tiller held between hooves, AVGVSTVS below; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; scarce; $3150.00 (€2803.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C., Portrait of Queen Philistis

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Hieron II placed his wife and son on coins during his long reign. Those of Queen Philistis are eagerly sought after by collectors.
SH84601. Silver 5 litrae, CCO Syracuse 221 (D2/R2), SNG ANS 893, SNG Lloyd 1546, SNG Cop 827, Dewing 959, McClean 2918, Weber 1708, HGC 2 1557 (R2) (all from the same dies), Choice aEF/gVF, toned, light marks, weight 4.441 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 218 - 215 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed head of Queen Philistis left, palm frond behind; reverse Nike galloping biga left, holding reins with both hands, E• in front of horses' legs, BAΣIΛIΣΣAΣ above, ΦIΛIΣTI∆OΣ exergue; from the Lawrence Woolslayer Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica auction 27 (12 May 2004), lot 129; ex A.D.M. Collection; ex Ratto Collection, 1929 sale, lot 213; rare; $3000.00 (€2670.00)
 


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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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.; obverse elephant 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; $1750.00 (€1557.50)
 


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

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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 CAESAR AVGVST, 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; $1600.00 (€1424.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, Nicephorus I and Stauracius, December 803 - 25 July 811 A.D.

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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; $1130.00 (€1005.70)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 320 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander III the Great

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Struck under Polyperchon, regent of the Macedonian empire, 319 - 317 B.C. Polyperchon was a general under Philip II and Alexander the Great. Following the First War of the Diadochi, he was governor in Macedonia while Antipater tried to assert his regency over the whole empire. In 319 B.C., Antipater made Polyperchon his successor as regent, passing over his own son, Kassander. A civil war soon broke out between Kassander, supported by Antigonus and Ptolemy and Polyperchon, allied with Eumenes. In 317 B.C., Kassander drove Polyperchon out of Macedonia and took control of the mentally disabled King Philip III Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice. Polyperchon fled to Epirus, where he joined Alexander's mother Olympias, his widow Roxana, and his infant son King Alexander IV. Together Olympias and Polyperchon invaded Macedonia. An army commanded by Philip III immediately defected and Philip and his wife Eurydice were murdered. Soon after, however, the tide turned, Kassander was victorious, Olympias was executed, and the boy King Alexander IV, and his mother Roxana were captured (both would be killed in 310 B.C. to secure Kassander's rule). Polyperchon surrendered the regency to Antigonus, but the empire was already forever divided. Polyperchon is last mentioned as being alive in 304 B.C. but may have lived into the early 3rd century B.C.
SL84531. Silver tetradrachm, Price 124, Müller Alexander 560, Troxell issue J6, Demanhur 1564 ff., Meydancikkale 93 ff. SNG Munchen 285, SNG Alpha Bank 510, SNG Cop -, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4166072-003), weight 17.11 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 30o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, c. 318 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, laurel branch left, Πo under throne; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


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)
 


Crispus, Caesar, 1 March 317 - 326 A.D.

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This type with a radiate head is unlisted in RIC VII but p. 379, 135, notes that Alföldi recorded the radiate head in RIN 1921, p. 118; citing a specimen in the Trau Collection with a PT mintmark (first officina), and another in the Gerin Collection with a TT mintmark (third officina). The note goes on to say the radiate bust type should be expected since the other rulers have parallel bust types in the issue, one of which is radiate. We know of eight total specimens of this type, but the Trau Collection coin is the only other first officina example known to Forum.
RL84331. Billon centenionalis, Alföldi RIN 1921, p. 118 (citing the Trau collection); RIC VII Ticinum 134 var. (laureate head, radiate head noted on p. 379), Choice EF, excellent bold and well-centered strike, attractive green patina, a few light marks, weight 2.947 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 320 A.D.; obverse CRISPVS NOB CAES, radiate head right; reverse DOMINORVM NOSTRORVM CAESS, VOT * V in two lines, the star in center, all within wreath tied at the bottom, PT in exergue; extremely rare; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 323 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
SL84530. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Müller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, NGC XF, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, scratches (4163183-004), weight 17.04 g, maximum diameter 25 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, c. 322 - 320 A.D.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Macedonian helmet left; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $570.00 (€507.30)
 


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 (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $560.00 (€498.40)
 




  



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High Grade Ancient Coins