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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Nautical & Marine ▸ ShipsView Options:  |  |  |   

Galleys and Other Ships on Ancient Coins

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; $4000.00 (€3400.00)
 


Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other - so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa. Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.
SH87414. Silver denarius, RSC I Pompeia 3a (same ligatures), Crawford 511/4d, Sydenham 1348, BMCRR Sicily 20, Sear CRI 335b, SRCV I 1393, gVF, beautifully toned, edge cracks, legends not fully struck, weight 3.566 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse MAG•PIVS•IMP•ITER, pharos (lighthouse) of Messana, topped with stature of Neptune standing right holding trident and rudder, his left foot on a galley ram; quinquereme (war galley) sailing left in foreground below adorned with aquila on prow and scepter at the stern; reverse PRAEF ORAE•MARIT•ET•CLAS• S•C• (AEs and MAR ligate), the sea monster Skylla, her upper body a nude human female torso, lower body of two fish tails and three dog foreparts, attacking to left with a rudder wielded as a club in both hands raised overhead; ex Nomos Obolos 10, lot 349; rare; $2100.00 (€1785.00)
 


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG V

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This may have been the famous V Alaudae ('the larks'), a Caesarean legion which remained loyal to Antony but was later retained by Augustus. There are other possibilities, however: V Macedonica, a Caesarean legion about which little is known; V Urbana, disbanded after Actium (and therefore quite likely an Antonian legion); and V Gallica, a Caesarean legion that was probably the one that under Lollius lost its eagle to German raiders in Gaul in 17 B.C.
SH86627. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/18, Sydenham 1221, BMCRR II East 196, RSC I 32, Sear CRI 354, SRCV I 1479, Choice gVF, nice toning, some light marks and scratches, weight 3.622 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANT AVG III. VIR. R. P. C., galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - V, legionary aquila between two standards; $580.00 (€493.00)
 


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D.

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This type appears to refer to a victory on the Sea of Galilee during the recapture of Judaea.
RB82679. Copper as, RIC II-1 p. 112, V753 (R); BnF III p. 173, V734; Cohen I 363 var. (head left); BMCRE II -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, VF, well centered, rough light green patina, small edge chip, weight 7.964 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 74 A.D.; obverse T CAESAR IMP COS III CENS, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVST (the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right on prow, wreath in extended right hand, palm across left shoulder in left hand, S - C across field below center; rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


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

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Hadrian refounded a Thracian tribal capital, changed its name to Hadrianopolis, developed it, adorned it with monuments, and made it the capital of the Roman province. The city is Edirne, Turkey today. From ancient times, the area around Edirne has been the site of no fewer than 16 major battles or sieges. Military historian John Keegan identifies it as "the most contested spot on the globe" and attributes this to its geographical location. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine I in 323, and Valens was killed by the Goths during the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
SH65237. Bronze AE 25, Jurukova p. 157 & pl. XXII, 244 (V137/R244); Mionnet, Suppl. II, 658; BMC Thrace -, SNG Cop -, SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, weight 7.837 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, Hadrianopolis (Edirne, Turkey) mint, obverse IOYΛIA ∆O CEBACTH, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, looped plait below ear and on neck; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEITΩN, galley left with four oarsmen and steersman in stern; very rare; $280.00 (€238.00)
 


Lot of 20 Roman Empire City of Constantinople Commemoratives Bronzes 330 - 346 A.D.

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On 11 May 330, Constantine I refounded Byzantium, renamed it Constantinopolis after himself, and moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to his new city. The new capital was Christian, old gods and traditions were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Generations later there was the story that a divine vision led Constantine to this spot. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople." Special commemorative coins were issued with types for both Rome and Constantinople to advertise the importance of the new capital.
LT85418. Bronze reduced centenionalis, SRCV IV 16444 ff. (various mints), all VF, nice coins, 330 - 346 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINOPOLIS, laureate and helmeted bust of Constantinopolis left, wearing imperial cloak, scepter over left shoulder; reverse Victory standing left, right foot on prow, scepter in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield, mintmark in exergue; one with soldiers with standard reverse, unattributed mint or issue, no flips or tags, the actual coins in the photographs, as-is, no returns; $240.00 (€204.00)
 


Lot of 20 Roman Empire City of Constantinople Commemoratives Bronzes 330 - 346 A.D.

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On 11 May 330, Constantine I refounded Byzantium, renamed it Constantinopolis after himself, and moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to his new city. The new capital was Christian, old gods and traditions were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Generations later there was the story that a divine vision led Constantine to this spot. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople." Special commemorative coins were issued with types for both Rome and Constantinople to advertise the importance of the new capital.
LT85420. Bronze reduced centenionalis, SRCV IV 16444 ff. (various mints), VF, all nice coins, 330 - 346 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINOPOLIS, laureate and helmeted bust of Constantinopolis left, wearing imperial cloak, scepter over left shoulder; reverse Victory standing left, right foot on prow, scepter in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield, mintmark in exergue; unattributed mint or issue, correction: one of the 20 coins is a Roma commemorative, no flips or tags, the actual coins in the photographs, as-is, no returns; $240.00 (€204.00)
 


Arados, Phoenicia, Uncertain King, c. 400 - 384 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
GS87352. Silver stater, Elayi-Elayi Arwad group III.2.1; HGC 10, 32 (R1), VF, typical compact flan, bumps and marks, weight 10.308 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 400 - 384 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph (abbreviating Melech Arad - King of Arados) from right to left above, three waves below; ex CNG e-auction 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 252; rare; $235.00 (€199.75)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Byzantion Countermark

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This BY over prow countermark, along with a nearly identical countermark using an archaic form of B resembling Π, was used at Byzantium. David Sear notes, "at this time [when the counter mark was applied after c. 280 B.C.], the Byzantines were subject to continual threats by Gaulish invaders, who were bought off by the payment of huge annual tributes. The impoverished city had to resort to countermarking foreign coins in place of a proper currency."
CM85916. Silver drachm, c/m: Propontis Hoard 144, SGCV 1585 (Byzantion, 280 - 225 B.C.), coin: aF, flattened opposite countermark, marks, scratches, porosity; countermark VF, weight 3.808 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Western Ionian(?) mint, c. 323 - 297 B.C.; obverse Herakles head right wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; countermark: BY over prow left with dolphin finial within circular punch; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, control symbols left and below throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; rare countermark; $230.00 (€195.50)
 


Phaselis, Lycia, 500 - 466 B.C.

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Partial brockage obverse. The obverse was re-struck off-center over a brockage of the reverse, leaving two clear impressions.
GA83588. Silver tetrobol, SNGvA 4396, SNG Berry 1200 var. (ΦA above galley, Σ below), SNG Cop -, SNG Fitzwilliam -, VF, toned, tight flan, die wear, die cracks, partial brockage, weight 3.507 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 90o, Phaselis mint, 500 - 440 B.C.; obverse prow of war galley right in the form of a boar's forepart, partial brockage with incuse letters ΦA visible on obverse; reverse stern right, ΦAΣ above, all in incuse square; ex Roma Numismatics, e-sale 21 (31 Oct 2015), 368; $180.00 (€153.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Schaaff, Ulrich. Münzen der römischen Kaiserzeit mit Schiffsdarstellungen im Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseum. (Munich, 2003).

Catalog current as of Saturday, August 18, 2018.
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