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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Numismatics ▸ CountermarkedView Options:  |  |  |   

Countermarked Ancient Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., VAR Quinctillus Varus Countermark

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The Altar of Lugdunum and the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls was dedicated by Augustus on 1 August 10 B.C., the very same day Drusus' son, the future emperor Claudius, was born in Lugdunum. All the notable men of Gaul were invited. Caius Julius Vercondaridubnus, a member of the Aedui tribe, was the first priest of the new imperial cult. The altar, which was engraved with the names of 60 Gallic tribes, was featured prominently on coins from the Lugdunum mint for many years.
CM84471. Copper as, BnF I 1485 (with c/m), RIC I 230, BMCRE I 549, SRCV I 1690, Cohen I 240; countermark: Pangerl 52e (Publius Quinctilius Varus), aF, rough, edge crack, c/m: aF, weight 8.852 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 10 - 6 B.C.; obverse CAESAR PONT MAX, laureate head right; countermark: VAR ligature (Varus) in a rectangular punch; reverse ROM ET AVG (in exergue), the Altar of Lugdunum, the front decorated with the corona civica between laurels and figures; flanked on each side by a Victory on a column standing facing center, raising a wreath and holding a palm frond; $810.00 (€720.90)
 


Lampsacus (as Colonia Gemella Iulia Lampsacus), Mysia, c. 45 - 35 B.C.

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M. Grant (Grant FITA, p. 246) first and convincingly attributed this type to Lampsacus. P. Brunt (Italian Manpower, p. 600) argues convincingly that the colony was founded by Julius Caesar about 45 B.C. and disappeared after its occupation by Sextus Pompey in 35 B.C. Marcus Turius was the legate (governor) of Asia, 42 - 40 B.C. The countermark is listed in RPC I on other issues of the colony.
RP85355. Bronze as, RPC I 2272 (2 specimens), Grant FITA 246(4), SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -; Countermark: Howgego -, F, a little rough with some smoothing, only three specimens known to Forum, weight 4.044 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 45o, Lampsacus mint, 42 - 40 B.C.; obverse head of Janus, C G - I L (Colonia Gemella Iulia Lampsacus) divided across field, countermark: cornucopia, C - C flanking at sides, within a roughly square punch; reverse galley prow right, Q LVCRETI / L PONTI IIVIR (duumvirs) above, M TVRIO LEG (Marcus Turius, legate) below; extremely rare; $720.00 (€640.80)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. Cities in Thrace and Asia minor sometimes formed alliances with other cities. The competition for prestige and rivalry between cities in the East was intense. Alliances could enhance a city’s status by aligning either with many cities or with particularly important ones. Homonoia was part of civic "foreign policy" and might have involved the exchange of delegates and joint celebrations and sacrifices. At least 87 cities issued homonoia coins celebrating their alliances.
RP77248. Bronze AE 28, Franke-Nolle, type VI, 857 (Vs.C/Rs.18); cf. SNGvA 3668; SNG Tubingen 4054; Lindgren III 596, VF, tight flan, obscure countermark on obverse, weight 9.924 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AY• K• - ΠOY• ΛIK• OYAΛEPAN/OC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front, round countermark on face; reverse IEPAΠOΛE/ITΩN - KE - CAP∆IANΩN, Apollo on left, standing right, plectrum in right hand, kithara in left hand; cult statue of Kore facing, wearing kalathos and veil, NEOKOPΩN downward in right field, OMONOYA in exergue; very rare; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


Elaios, Thracian Chersonesos, c. 350 - 281 B.C.

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The city of Elaios in Thracian Chersonesos occupied a strategic position on what is now called the Gallipoli peninsula. In the ancient world, it was know for its sanctuary of the Trojan hero Protesilaos. Philostratos, writing of this sanctuary in the early third century A.D., speaks of a temple statue of Protesilaos standing on a base which was shaped like the prow of a boat. Of all the references listed in this coin's attribution, SNG Copenhagen is the only to list any coins of this rare city.
GB85370. Bronze AE 13, SNG Cop 898 (also same countermark); BMC Thrace -, Corpus Nummorum Thracorum -, SNG Tub -, SNG BM -, SNG Stancomb -, SNG Pushkin -, VF, well centered, highlighting earthen deposits, some marks, some corrosion, reverse slightly flattened by counter marking, weight 2.392 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Elaios mint, c. 350 - 281 B.C.; obverse veiled female head (Demeter?) right (wreathed in grain?); countermark: lion forepart right in an round punch; reverse bee upward, seen from above, EΛAIOY/ΣIΩN flanking in two upward lines first on left, ΠA monogram below; extremely rare; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Autumn 48 - Autumn 47 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

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From McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch, p. 74, note 25: "The coins of this year (Pompeian Era 19 = 48/7 BC) and of Year 3 of the Caesarean Era are frequently seen with a countermark on the obverse, which was previously described as "head of Apollo r." in an oval. As discussed in the text, it now seems likely that the countermark portrays Cleopatra, and was used to mark coins circulating in the Syro-Phoenician territories, which were given to her by Mark Antony."
RP84649. Bronze tetrachalkon, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; Cohen DCA 384; HGC 9 1366; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, F, countermark: aVF, weight 11.895 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, Autumn 48 - Autumn 47 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra right in an incuse oval; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, Zeus Nicephorus enthroned left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs, Nike offering wreath in his extended right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, fulmen (thunderbolt) above, cornucopia (control symbol) inner left, IΘ (Pompeian Era year 19) below, all within laurel wreath; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


Byzantion, Thrace, Late 3rd - 2nd Century B.C.

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Byzantion was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 B.C. The city was rebuilt as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine I in 330 A.D. and renamed Constantinople. It became the capital of the Ottoman Empire when it was conquered in 1453. Today it is Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, and the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart.
GB85833. Bronze AE 27, Schönert-Geiss Byzantion 1179 ff. var. (controls); cf. BMC Thrace p. 96, 35 (diff. magistrate); SNG Cop 492 (same); SNG Black Sea 68 ff. (same), VF, nice for the type, black toning with coppery high points, bumps and marks, reverse die break, weight 11.139 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 0o, Byzantium (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, late 3rd - 2nd century B.C.; obverse veiled head of Demeter right, wearing grain wreath; countermark: helmet with cheek guards within oval incuse; reverse cornucopia, ΛE (control) lower center, EΠ AΘANAI (legate Athanaios) downward on left, BYZANTIΩ downward on right; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; $180.00 (€160.20)
 


Persian Empire, Sidon, Phoenicia, Ba'Alshillem II, c. 401 - 366 B.C.

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Sidon, named for the "first-born" of Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:15, 19), is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isaiah 23:2, 4, 12; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Ezekiel 27:8; 28:21, 22; 32:30; Joel 3:4). The Sidonians long oppressed Israel (Judges 10:12) but Solomon entered into a matrimonial alliance with them, and thus their form of idolatrous worship found a place in the land of Israel (1 Kings 11:1, 33). Jesus visited the "coasts" of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) where many came to hear him preach (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). After leaving Caesarea, Paul's ship put in at Sidon, before finally sailing for Rome (Acts 27:3, 4).
GS70326. Silver 1/16 shekel, Elayi 2004 851 ff.; HGC 10 240; Betlyon 27 (Abd'astart, Straton I); BMC Phoenicia p 146, 36 (same); SNG Cop 197 ff. (same), VF, toned, tiny edge cuts, banker's mark, tight flan, bumps and marks, weight 0.648 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 90o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, c. 371 - 370 B.C.; obverse war galley left, Phoenician letter beth above, banker's mark or countermark above galley; reverse King of Persia (to left) standing right, slaying erect lion to right, Phoenician letter ayin between them; $140.00 (€124.60)
 


Akragas, Sicily, 405 - 392 B.C.

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This countermarked issue was struck in the troubled period that followed the city's destruction by Carthage.
CM77135. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I p. 197, 92; SNG Cop 88; SNG ANS 1065; SNG Munchen 121; SGCV I 1026; SNG Morcom 529; HGC 2 -, Fair; countermark: Fine, weight 12.452 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily) mint, 405 - 392 B.C.; obverse countermark with the head of young Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion's skin headdress, worn crab undertype; reverse worn eagle with hare in talons undertype; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 200 - 27 B.C.

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Cyzicus was one of the great cities of the ancient world. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) Cyzicus was subject to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians alternately. In the naval Battle of Cyzicus in 410, an Athenian fleet completely destroyed a Spartan fleet. At the peace of Antalcidas in 387, like the other Greek cities in Asia, it was made over to Persia. Alexander the Great captured it from the Persians in 334 B.C.
GB72168. Bronze AE 28, SNGvA 7355 (with same countermark); SNG BnF 505 (also with same c/m); SNG Cop 84; BMC Mysia p. 40, 167, VF, nice style, well centered, nice green patina, bevelled obv edge, weight 12.530 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 90o, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, c. 200 - 27 B.C.; obverse head of Kore Soteira right, wearing grain wreath; countermark: eagle standing right, wings open in a 7.5mm round punch; reverse tripod with three loop handles, KYZI/KHNWN from upper right, in two flanking downward lines, branch right above, torch left below, monogram outer right, monogram outer left; $120.00 (€106.80)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 218 - 268 A.D.

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An Apollo Citharoedus is a statue or image of Apollo with a Kithara (lyre). Among the best-known examples is the Apollo Citharoedus of the Vatican Museums, a 2nd-century A.D. colossal marble statue by an unknown Roman sculptor. Apollo is shown crowned with laurel and wearing the long, flowing robe of the Ionic bard. The statue was found in 1774, with seven statues of the Muses, in the ruins of Gaius Cassius Longinus' villa near Tivoli, Italy. The sculptures are preserved in the Hall of the Muses, in the Museo Pio-Clementino of the Vatican Museums. Apollo
RP77263. Bronze AE 25, Johnson Hierapolis 67 (3 spec.); Weber CHP II, 12; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 85; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Mun -; countermark: Howgego 278, F, c/m: F; well centered on a broad flan, edge crack, weight 7.557 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 218 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY- NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: Male figure standing, uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, Apollo Kitharoedos (Archegetes) standing right, in long chiton and mantle, plectrum in lowered right hand, Kithara in left arm; very rare; $100.00 (€89.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Baker, R. "The Countermarks Found on Ancient Roman Coins: A Brief Introduction" in SAN XV (1984). pp. 52-58.
Barag, D. "The countermarks of the Legio Decima Fretensis" in Kindler Patterns. (Tel-Aviv, 1967).
Barag, D. & S. Qedar. "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War" in INJ 13 (1994).
Bauslaugh, R. "Cistophoric Countermarks and he Monetary System of Eumenes II" in NC 1990.
Bendall, S. "An 'Eagle' Countermark on Sixth-century Byzantine Coins" in NC 136 (1976), p. 230.
Davesne, A. "Une contremarque au trident sur certaines monnaies de Ptolémée II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-sémitiques sur les monnaies grecques et proche-orientales. Glaux 13. (Milan, 1998).
Evans, J.D. "Heraclian Countermarks on Coins Found in Caesarea" in AJN 5 (1993), pp. 97-104, and AJN 6 (1994), pp. 102-104.
Goehring, J.E. "Two New Examples of the Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark" in NC 143 (1983), pp. 218-220.
Howgego, C.J. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Krusy, H. Gegenstempel auf Münzen des Spätmittelalters. (Frankfurt & Mainz, 1974).
Lampinen, P. "Countermarked Byzantine Folles and the Identification of a New Imperial Family Member" in Caesarea Papers 2. (Portsmouth, 1999), pp. 399-404.
Lowick, N.M., S. Bendall, & P.D. Whitting. The Mardin Hoard. (London, 1977).
Mac Dowall, D.W. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68." in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Schulze, W. "The Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark - Re-attributed from Egypt to Palestine" in INR volume 4 (2009), pp. 113-120.
Schulze, W. & T. Goodwin. Countermarking in Seventh Century Syria. (Supplement to ONS Newsletter, 183). (2005).
Schulze, W., I. Schulze, & W. Leimenstoll. "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins in seventh century Syria" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-27.
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Topalov, S.A. New Contributions to the Study of the Countermarking of Coins in the Area of the West Pontic Cities, 3rd-1st c. B.C. (Sofia, 2002).
Werz, U. "Die Gegenstempel von Kalkriese und der Münzumlauf in frühtiberischer Zeit in der Germania inferior und superior" in Wiegels, p. 237 - 252.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).
Woods, D. "The Byzantine Eagle Countermark: Creating a Pseudo-Consular Coinage under the Heraclii" in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015), pp. 927-945.

Catalog current as of Friday, September 22, 2017.
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Countermarked