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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Denominations ▸ TesseraeView Options:  |  |  | 

Tessera

Tesserae are ancient tokens. Most were made from lead, but bronze and other materials were also used. They were used as tickets for theaters, gladiator fights, ferry passage and even brothels. Some were given as gifts by a King, the Roman emperor or a local government, perhaps to the poor as vouchers to exchange for food.


Roman Egypt, Nov 130 - c. 138 A.D.

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Both the obverse and reverse types on this tessera are published but the combination does not appear to be published. Nor did we find another example online. According to Milne, lead tesserae served as local small change in Egypt during the first to the third century A.D.

Euthenia is the Greek personification of abundance or plenty. To the Romans she was Abundantia. Her attributes are grain and the cornucopia. On Roman coins of Alexandria she often appears to be the spouse of the Nile; yet, in the Egyptian pantheon Euthenia did not exist and the Nile had no consort.
RX90574. Lead tessera, Unpublished; cf. Dattari 6444 and Geissen 3584 (for obverse type) and Dattari 6493 and 3575 (for reverse type), VF, weight 5.107 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 270o, Alexandria(?) mint, Nov 130 - c. 138 A.D. (possibly later); obverse Antinous on horseback right, wearing hem hem crown, caduceus in right hand; reverse Nilus reclining left on crocodile right below, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, reeds in his right hand, cornucopia in left; before him at his feet stands Euthenia (prosperity) wearing chiton and peplos, offering wreath held in right hand; extremely rare; $380.00 (338.20)


Roman Egypt, Antinoopolites Nome(?), Portrait of Antinous, c. 130 - 153 A.D.

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Antinous probably joined the entourage of Hadrian when it passed through Bithynia in about 124. He became Hadrian's constant companion and lover but in October 130 Antinous drowned in the Nile. Hadrian's grief knew no bounds; he enrolled him among the gods, erected a temple, and on 30 October 130 A.D., Hadrian founded the city of Antinoopolis on the very bank of the Nile river where Antinous drowned. It was the capital of a new nome, Antinoopolites. Artists vied with each other in immortalizing his beauty. Temples and statues to his memory were erected all over the Empire, and there began a Cult of Antinous. On this coin he is depicted in the guise of Hermanubis.
RX90575. Lead tessera, Dattari 6536, Geissen 3559 var. (11.23g), Emmett 4397 (R4), F, weight 4.666 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, Antinoopolis (or Alexandria?) mint, c. 130 - 153 A.D.; obverse draped bust of Antinous right, wearing hem-hem crown of Harpocrates, crescent before; reverse Serapis standing left, wearing chiton, himation, and kalathos on head, right hand raised, long scepter vertical behind in left; rare; $250.00 (222.50)


Roman Egypt, Nov 130 - c. 138 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
Both the obverse and reverse types on this tessera are published but the combination does not appear to be published. Nor did we find another example online. According to Milne, lead tesserae served as local small change in Egypt during the first to the third century A.D.
RX74430. Lead tessera, Unpublished; cf. Dattari 6444 and Geissen 3584 (for obverse type), F, weight 3.300 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria(?) mint, Nov 130 - c. 138 A.D. (possibly later); obverse Antinous on horseback right, wearing hem hem crown, caduceus in right hand; reverse bust of Serapis(?) right, kalathos (?, on head), cornucopia on shoulder behind, snake entwined staff before; extremely rare; $160.00 (142.40)


Byzantine Empire, Palaestina or Syria, c. 450 - 500 A.D.

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This object, from the Alex Malloy Collection, was held by him for decades, only speculatively attributed as probably Islamic. The referenced recent article by Farhi indicates another possible attribution. As discussed by Farhi, in the second half of the 5th century, besides Byzantine nummi, low-value currency in Palaestina appears to have included similar sized centuries old Jewish prutah, cast Axumite imitations, and even bronze and lead blank flans. Many fragments of lead mirror frames, found over many years, appear to have been cut around decorative star-like or floral patterns to look like coins. They were almost certainly used as coins. The lead mirror frame fragment "coins" in Farhi have different patterns and are blank on one side, but this object is very similar.
BZ53343. Lead nummus, fragment of ornamented lead object coinage(?); See Farhi, H. "Note on Two Types of Byzantine Lead Currency" in INR 8 (2013) for similar examples, weight 2.836 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, ex Alex G. Malloy Collection; $70.00 (62.30)







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Catalog current as of Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
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Tessera