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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Love & BeautyView Options:  |  |  |   

Love & Beauty on Ancient Coins

Venus is the Roman goddess principally associated with love and beauty, the rough equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The son of Venus and Mars, Cupid to the Romans, Eros to the Greeks, is the god of desire, affection and erotic love.


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D., Paphos(?), Cyprus

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Titus visited the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Paphos in 69 A.D., when the future emperor was on his way to Egypt. He consulted the oracle of Aphrodite, and was told that he had a great future.

The 1.2 mm high gray-green conical stone, which once stood at the center of the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Paphos, was found by archaeologists near the temple and is now in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia. It is not a meteorite.
RP59007. Silver didrachm, RPC II 1809, F, encrustations, weight 5.636 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Paphos(?) mint, obverse AYTOKPATΩP TITOC KAICAP, laureate head left; reverse ETOYC NEOY IEPOY, temple of Aphrodite at Paphos, conical stone (xoanon) at center, Θ in exergue; rare; $250.00 (222.50)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Venus in her aspect as the divine ancestress of the Roman people was known as Venus Genetrix. According to legend, and as recorded in Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneis was the son of Venus who fled Troy after its destruction and founded the city of Rome. Julius Caesar, being of the Gens Julia, claimed direct descent from Venus Genetrix and Aeneas. Julius Caesar built a Temple of Venus Genetrix in his new forum. Most depictions of Venus Genetrix on Roman coinage are of the statue in the Forum, and do not directly refer to pregnancy or fertility.
RS79617. Silver denarius, RIC IV C388c, RSC III 212, Hunter III 13, BMCRE V C25, SRCV II 7106, Choice EF, fantastic portrait, mint luster, tiny green spots of encrustation, weight 3.246 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, reign of Caracalla, 216 A.D.; obverse IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG, draped bust right; reverse VENVS GENETRIX (Mother Venus), Venus enthroned left, extending right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; $225.00 (200.25)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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Eros was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid ("desire"). According to Hesiod (c. 700 B.C.), one of the most ancient of all Greek sources, Eros was the fourth god to come into existence, coming after Chaos, Gaia (the Earth), and Tartarus (the Abyss or the Underworld). Parmenides (c. 400 B.C.), one of the pre-Socratic philosophers, makes Eros the first of all the gods to come into existence. In early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodies sexual power. But in later sources, Eros is represented as the son of Aphrodite, whose mischievous interventions in the affairs of gods and mortals cause bonds of love to form, often illicitly. Ultimately, by the later satirical poets, he is represented as a child, the precursor to the chubby Renaissance Cupid.
GB84659. Bronze AE 21, CNG e-auction 380, lot 417 (same dies); BMC Mysia -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG BnF -, SNG Tub -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG anakkale -, SNG Leypold -, F, well centered, small centration dimples, weight 6.202 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 45o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES L SEP SEV ALEXANDER (many letters blundered or retrograde), laureate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse DEO CVPIDI-NI C G I H PAR (D and H blundered, god Cupid, Colonia Gemella Julia Hadriana Pariana), Cupid standing slightly left, head right, nude but for drapery over left arm, herm at feet on left; missing from the many references examined by Forum, but several examples are known from auctions; extremely rare; $180.00 (160.20)


Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.

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In 212 B.C., after a two-year siege, despite defenses designed by the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus forced his way into Syracuse. Although Marcellus wished to spare the Syracusans, he was unable to stop his soldiers from sacking the city. Archimedes was killed. Marcellus carried off the art treasures of Syracuse to Rome, the first recorded instance of a practice which was to become common.
GB66799. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 110, 25; SNG ANS 1278; SNG Morcom 563; HGC 2 612 (R1); BMC Sicily p. 51, 65 corr.; SNG Cop -, VF, weight 3.768 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, holding dove in extended right, II (2 chalkoi) right; $110.00 (97.90)


Mytilene, Lesbos, 400 - 350 B.C.

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Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
GS76292. Silver diobol, BMC Troas, p. 185, 8-14 var.; SNG Cop 368 var.; SNGvA 7749 - 7750 var.; HGC 6 1037 (R1) var.; Weber 5670 var. (none with grapes), VF, nice style, grainy surfaces, uneven toning, weight 1.290 g, maximum diameter 11.7 mm, die axis 180o, Mytilene mint, 400 - 350 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse head of Aphrodite right, hair rolled, MY behind, bunch of grapes (control symbol) lower left; very rare variety of a rare type - we were unable to find another example with the grapes control symbol; $110.00 (97.90)


Soloi, Cilicia, c. 100 - 30 B.C.

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Soli (or Soloi) was a colony of Rhodes, founded c. 700 B.C. southwest of Tarsus, in Cilicia. It was destroyed in the 1st century B.C., and refounded by Pompey the Great as Pompeiopolis (not to be confused with the Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia).
GB57540. Bronze AE 26, cf. SNG BnF 1197, SNG Levante 872, SNG Cop -, aVF, weight 9.225 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Soloi mint, c. 100 - 30 B.C.; obverse aegis with winged gorgoneion in center; reverse ΣOΛEΩN (below), Aphrodite riding bull right, owl before, monogram above left; rare; $100.00 (89.00)


Laodicea ad Lycus, Phrygia, Time of Tiberius, 14 - 37 A.D.

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Laodicea on the Lycus was the ancient Hellenistic metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana, in Anatolia near the modern village of Eskihisar, Denizli Province, Turkey. It is one of the Seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

A labrys is a double-headed ax, also known to the classical Greeks as a pelekus or sagaris, and to the Romans as a bipennis.
RP84894. Bronze AE 14, RPC I 2910; BMC Phrygia p. 288, 59; SNG Cop 512; SNG Munchen 348, VF, attractive black surfaces, some light marks, areas of slight porosity, earthen deposits, weight 3.146 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, Laodikeia mint, magistrate of Pythes, son of Pythes; obverse Aphrodite standing left, dove in extended right hand, B over ΠYΘ monogram (magistrate Pythes II) on left, ΛAO∆IKEΩN downward on right; reverse river god Lykos in wolf form, labrys across shoulder, all within laurel wreath; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 27, lot 257; rare; $100.00 (89.00)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

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Victory seems an odd attribute for the goddess of love but both Sulla and Pompey dreamed of Venus Victrix. Julius Caesar, who claimed Venus as his ancestor, sacrificed to her and she ensured he was always victorious. The use of Victrix on the reverse of Mamaea's coinage at this time, not only appealed for her aid against the Persians, but also reminded the Romans that the empress too was in Syria accompanying the legions on campaign.
RS73862. Silver denarius, RIC IV 358, RSC III 76, BMCRE VI 713, Hunter III 5, SRCV II 8216, VF, well centered on a broad slightly ragged flan, die wear, porous, bumps and scratches, weight 2.771 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 231 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped and diademed bust right; reverse VENVS VICTRIX (victorious Venus), Venus standing half left, helmet extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield on left at feet against far side; ex Harlan J. Berk; $90.00 (80.10)


Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.

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In 212 B.C., after a two-year siege, despite defenses designed by the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus forced his way into Syracuse. Although Marcellus wished to spare the Syracusans, he was unable to stop his soldiers from sacking the city. Archimedes was killed. Marcellus carried off the art treasures of Syracuse to Rome, the first recorded instance of a practice which was to become common.
GB66786. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 110, 25; SNG ANS 1278; SNG Morcom 563; HGC 2 612 (R1); BMC Sicily p. 51, 65 corr.; SNG Cop -, VF, weight 3.126 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 315o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, holding dove in extended right, II (2 chalkoi) right; $85.00 (75.65)


Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.

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Catania, on the east coast of Sicily between Messina and Syracuse, has been repeatedly damaged and even destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes and eruptions from Mount Etna, yet it still prospers. Today, Catania is an economic, tourism, and education center, and an important hub of industry, nicknamed the "European Silicon Valley."
GB65645. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 112, 26; SNG ANS 1284; SNG Cop 194; BMC Sicily p. 52, 66 (hexas), VF, nice for the type, green patina, weight 3.590 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 0o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, monogram behind neck; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, dove in extended right hand, II (2 chalkoi) right; rare; $75.00 (66.75)




  



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Love & Beauty