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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; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


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)
 


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; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


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; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


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; $150.00 (€133.50)
 


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)
 


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI Eupator the Great, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Anonymous Coinage

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Mithradates VI Megas (the Great) was king of Pontus in northern Anatolia from about 119 to 63 B.C. He was of both Greek and Persian origin, claiming descent from both Alexander the Great and King Darius I of Persia. Mithradates is remembered as one of Rome's most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the most prominent generals of the late Roman Republic in the so-called Mithridatic Wars: Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey the Great. After Mithradates VI was at last defeated by Pompey and in danger of capture by Rome, he attempted suicide. The poison failed because he had taken daily doses to build immunity. He then made his bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, kill him by the sword.
GB84575. Bronze AE 26, cf. HGC 7 310 (S), SNG Stancomb 649, SNG BM 973, SNG Cop 232 (all SNG refs. with same countermarks, none with this monogram), gF, dark patina, thick heavy flan as usual for the type, bumps and marks, light corrosion, weight 19.920 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, uncertain (Amisos?) mint, c. 130 - 100 B.C.; obverse male head left in a satrapal leather bashlik cap; countermarks: helmet in round punch, gorgoneion in round punch, fulmen (thunderbolt) in a rectangular punch; reverse star of eight rays, bow facing inward, monogram between rays; scarce; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


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)
 


Kings of Cilicia, Tarkondimotos, c. 39 - 31 B.C.

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Tarkondimotos was made dynast by Pompey and crowned king by Marc Antony. He died at the Battle of Actium. The anchor countermark, frequently used in an earlier era by Seleukid kings, is almost certainly post-Actium, perhaps from Antioch.
GB75283. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 3871, SGCV II 5682, BMC Lycaonia p. 237, 1 ff., F/aF, green patina, weight 8.040 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 0o, Hieropolis mint, c. 39 - 31 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, countermark: anchor in oval punch; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / TAPKON∆IMO/TOY, Zeus enthroned half left, himation around hips and legs with end over shoulder, Nike offering wreath extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, ΦIΛANT exergue; $95.00 (€84.55)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77252. Bronze AE 26, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, aF, broad flan, small edge crack; countermark: gF, weight 5.595 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $90.00 (€80.10)
 




  



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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 Saturday, May 27, 2017.
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Countermarked