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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ ElephantView Options:  |  |  | 

Elephants on Ancient Coins

Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Is there a small figure before the elephants or is it a die break and some imagination? The possible figure is not described by references or sales listings but is present on at least several examples.
RX91172. Bronze drachm, RPC II 2721, Dattari 462, BMC Alexandria 339, Geissen 411, Milne 528, Kampmann 24.234, Emmett 252.15, F, well centered, a little rough and porous, light highlighting earthen deposits, beveled obverse edge, weight 19.555 g, maximum diameter 34.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 95 - 96 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI C ΘEOY YIOC ∆OMIT CEB ΓEPM, laureate head right; reverse Domitian standing right in quadriga drawn by four elephants, laurel wreath in right hand, long eagle-topped scepter in left hand; Nike standing right on elephant's shoulders; raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand; LIE (year 15) in exergue; ex VAuctions 291 (22 Nov 2012), lot 74 (est. $500, realized $300 plus fees); rare; $300.00 (Ä264.00) ON RESERVE


Roman Republic, L. Caecilius Metellus Diadematus, 128 B.C.

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In 128 B.C., the Greco-Bactrian kingdom was overrun by the Tocharians and renamed Tocharistan.
RR89756. Silver denarius, RSC I Caecilia 38, Crawford 262/1, Sydenham 496, BMCRR I Rome 1044, Russo RBW 1060, SRCV I 138, VF, broad flan, light toning, flow lines, some die wear, weight 3.926 g, maximum diameter 194 mm, die axis 270o, Rome mint, 128 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right in winged helmet, X (XVI ligature = 16 asses) behind, wearing single drop earring and pearl necklace; reverse Pax driving a galloping biga right, olive branch in right hand, reins and scepter in left hand, elephant head with bell at neck below, ROMA in exergue; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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In 110, the Forum of Trajan was constructed in Rome by the Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus.
RX79999. Bronze drachm, Milne 621; Geissen 551; Dattari 765; Kampmann-Ganschow 27.316; BMC Alexandria p. 61, 510; Emmett 462, Fair, weight 21.827 g, maximum diameter 33.4 mm, die axis 215o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 110 - 28 Aug 111 A.D.; obverse AYT TPAIAN CEB ΓEPM ∆AKIK, laureate head right; reverse Trajan in slow quadriga of elephants right, laurel-branch in right hand, standard in left, L I∆ (year 14) above; ex Forum (2012); $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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Elephants are represented on coins as an emblem of Eternity, because the ancients believed elephants lived two or even three hundred years. In April 248, Philip combined the celebration of Rome's 1000th anniversary with the Ludi Saeculares. Festivities included spectacular games and theatrical presentations. In the Colosseum, more than 1,000 gladiators were killed along with hundreds of exotic animals including hippos, leopards, lions, giraffes, and one rhinoceros. At the same time, Philip elevated his son to the rank of co-Augustus. Undoubtedly the festivities included elephants, as advertised by this coin.
RS87526. Silver antoninianus, RSC IV 17, RIC IV 58, Hunter III 31, SRCV III 8921, VF, full-circle centering on a broad flan, attractive golden toning, some die wear, weight 3.950 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 248 A.D.; obverse IMP PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse AETERNITAS AVGG, elephant walking left, ridden by mahout guiding it with rod and goad; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50


Apamea, Syria, 58 - 57 B.C.

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In 302 B.C., Seleucus ceded a large part of Afghanistan to Chandragupta for 500 elephants to equip his army. The Seleukids' elephant and horse breeding and training camp was at Apamea. More than thirty thousand brood mares and three hundred stallions were kept. Here instructors taught the methods of fighting in heavy armor, and all the arts of war. In 188 B.C., Rome forced the defeated Antiochus III to sign the Treaty of Apamea, which obligated him to hand over all but 10 of his ships, hostages, 15,000 talents and all his elephants. When this coin was issued, the elephants had long existed only in memory.
GY88148. Bronze AE 22, HGC 9 1420 (R1); Cohen DCA 424 (S); cf. BMC Galatia, p. 235, 14 and pl. 27, 6 (year 8); SNG MŁnchen 794 (same); SNG Cop -, F, brown patina with red earthen highlighting, some porosity, typical tight flan, weight 8.386 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 0o, Syria, Apameia (Qalaat al-Madiq, Syria) mint, 58 - 57 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse AΠAMEΩN / THΣ IEPAΣ / KAI AΣYΛOY in three lines two above and one below, elephant walking right, Z (year 7 of Pompeian era) below trunk, uncertain control letters (off flan) below inscription; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Representations of elephants occur frequently on Roman coins. Romans used elephants in war, in triumphs, in funerals, and in the amphitheater. For Romans, the elephant was a symbol for Africa, for eternity, and for honor.
RB88970. Bronze as, RIC III 863 (S), Hunter II 280, Cohen II 564, BMCRE IV 1840 var. (walking right), SRCV II 4308 var. (same), aF, well centered, dark patina, porous, small edge split, weight 8.269 g, maximum diameter 26.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 148 - Dec 149 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TRP XII, laureate head right; reverse MVNIFICENTIA AVG, elephant walking left, COS IIII / S C in two lines in exergue; ; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus I Soter, 280 - 261 B.C.

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At the invitation of Nicomedes I of Bithynia, who required help in a dynastic struggle against his brother, three tribes of Celts crossed over from Thrace to Asia Minor. They numbered about 10,000 fighting men and about the same number of women and children. The Seleucid king Antiochus I, in 275 B.C., defeated them in a battle using Seleucid war elephants to shock the Celts. This victory was the origin of Antiochus' title of Soter (Greek for "savior"). These "Gauls" were not exterminated, many joined Antiochus' army as mercenaries. They established a long-lived Celtic territory in central Anatolia, called Galatia. Strengthened by fresh accessions of the same clans from Europe, the "Galatians" overran Bithynia and supported themselves by plundering neighboring countries.
GY87705. Bronze AE 19, Houghton and Lorber I 339.4, Newell ESM 946, HGC 9 148, F, well centered, corrosion, weight 6.277 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 300o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 278 - 268 B.C.; obverse Macedonian shield decorated with anchor in center, six double arcs around; reverse horned elephant walking right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY above and below, monogram and club above, jawbone below; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VI Dionysus, 144 - c. 142 B.C.

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After his father was deposed by Demetrius II, the general Diodotus Tryphon nominated Antiochus VI as king. He gained the allegiance of most of the Seleucid domain, including Judaea, but was actually only a puppet of the general. He died after "ruling" for two years. He was likely assassinated under orders from Tryphon, who then made himself king.
GY91905. Bronze serrated AE 21, cf. Houghton-Lorber II 2006, SNG Spaer 1771, Babelon Rois 1007, SNG Cop 304, HGC 9 143 (C-S), F, corrosion, weight 6.793 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. mid-143 - 142 B.C.; obverse radiate head of Antiochos VI right, wearing ivy wreath; obscure countermark; reverse elephant walking left, holding torch in trunk, BAΣIΛEΩS ANTIOXOY above, EΠIΦANOYΣ ∆IONYΣOY in exergue, ΣTA over uncertain second control symbol right; scarce; $38.00 SALE PRICE $34.20







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Catalog current as of Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
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Elephant