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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Adoptive Emperors| ▸ |Commodus||View Options:  |  |  | 

Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

L Aelius Aurelius Commodus was the son of emperor Marcus Aurelius and empress Faustina II. Caesar in 177 A.D., Commodus succeeded his father as Augustus in 180. His rule of twelve years quickly degenerated into debauchery, paranoia, and insanity. He actually believed he was Hercules reincarnated and even participated in gladiatorial contests. The empire was directed by his unscrupulous favorites while the emperor amused himself in whatever decadent way he saw fit. His assassination in 192 A.D. was viewed as a blessing by most Romans of the day.

|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.|, |denarius|
Unpublished in the major references which list this rare reverse type with the L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL obverse legend. RSC II also lists a hybrid with M COMM ANT AVG P BRIT FEL.
SL14050. Silver denarius, unpublished mule, cf. RSC II 245a, RIC III 256, BMCRE IV 349, Cohen 245, NGC Ch F, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (5768432-002), weight 2.186 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, 191 A.D.; obverse M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, laureate head right; reverse IOVI DEFENS SALVTIS AVG, Jupiter advancing left, naked except for cloak flying behind, hurling thunderbolt with right hand, long scepter in left hand, four stars left, three stars right; no other specimens known to Forum, NGC| Lookup; very rare; $300.00 SALE |PRICE| $270.00


|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.|, |denarius|Price| Reduced
This reverse is a good example of how the Romans used the coins as propaganda media: Commodus (who claimed to be Hercules reincarnated) maintains the grain supply (clasps hands with Africa, the largest grain supplier of that time).
RS95351. Silver denarius, RIC III 259a (R), RSC II 643, BMCRE IV 356, Hunter II 67, SRCV II 5687, Choice F, well centered, flow lines, bumps, edge ragged with small splits/cracks, weight 2.544 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 192 A.D.; obverse L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right; reverse PROVIDENTIAE AVG (to the foresight of the Emperor), Africa (on left) standing right, wearing elephant scalp headdress, lion crouching right at feet on far side, sistrum in right hand, offering grain to Hercules with right hand; Hercules (on right) standing left, nude, right foot on prow, receiving grain with right hand, club in left hand resting on tree stump; rare; $120.00 SALE |PRICE| $95.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Caesarea, Cappadocia

|Cappadocia|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Caesarea,| |Cappadocia|, |didrachm|
Mount Erciyes (Argaios to the Greeks, Argaeus to the Romans) is a massive stratovolcano 25 km to the south of Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) in Turkey. The highest mountain in central Anatolia, with its summit reaching 3,916 meters (12,848 ft). It may have erupted as recently as 253 B.C., as may be depicted on Roman era coins. Strabo wrote that the summit was never free from snow and that those few who ascended it reported seeing both the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south in days with a clear sky.
RP87685. Silver didrachm, cf. RPC IV Online 10073; Metcalf Cappadocia 146a; SNGvA 6441; SNG Cop 250 var. (legends); Sydenham Cappadocia Supp. 370a var. (same); BMC Galatia -, aVF, frosty porous surfaces, bumps and marks, tine edge split, reverse legend ending in exergue is obscure, weight 3.343 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 0o, Cappadocia, Caesarea (Kayseri, Turkey) mint, COS III, 181 - 182 A.D.; obverse AYT M AYPH KOMO - ANTΩNINOC C, laureate head right; reverse UΠATOC Γ - ΠAT ΠA-[TP...(?)], Mount Argaios with rocks and trees, surmounted by Helios standing left on summit, globe in his right hand, long scepter in left hand; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00


|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |Dec| |192| |A.D.|, |sestertius|
Hilaritas, the personification of rejoicing, is usually depicted as a matron, standing with a cornucopia in her left hand and a long palm frond on the ground in her right. Green branches were a sign of gladness and for special occasions, both public and private, it was the custom in ancient times to ornament streets, temples, gates, houses, and even entire cities, with branches and leaves of trees. This tradition carries on today in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.
RB91329. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 497 (S); Cohen III 213; BMCRE IV p. 810, 593 var. (rev. HILARITAS...); MIR 18, 729-6/30 var. (same); SRCV II 5754 var. (same); Hunter II -, F , broad and heavy flan, spot of reverse encrustation, weight 27.795 g, maximum diameter 33.9 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 186 - Dec 187 A.D.; obverse M COMMODVS ANT P FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse HILARIT AVG PM TR XII IMP VIII COS V P P, Hilaritas standing slightly left, head left, olive branch in extended right hand, grounded palm frond vertical in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across the field below center; scarce; $95.00 SALE |PRICE| $85.50


|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.|, |denarius|
The elaborate Annona reverse composition reflects the special care Commodus took in supplying the much needed African grain to Rome (in fear of mob uprisings).
RS94704. Silver denarius, RIC III 95, RSC II 17, BMCRE IV 144, MIR 18 647, SRCV II 5627, Hunter II - (p. clii), VF, centered on a tight flan, some mint luster, flow lines, part of edge ragged with splits and cracks, weight 2.770 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 184 A.D.; obverse COMM ANT AVG P BRIT, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P VIIII IMP VII COS IIII P P, Annona standing slightly left, head left, statuette of Concordia holding patera and scepter in Annona's right hand, cornucopia in her left hand, modius overflowing with grain at feet on left, two persons on prow at feet on right, ANN in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $90.00 SALE |PRICE| $81.00


|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.|, |sestertius|
Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. coins.
RB88855. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III p. 341, 1589; Hunter II p. 404, 35; BMCRE IV p. 675, 1684; SRCV II 5766; MIR 18 427; Cohen III 330 var. (no drapery), F, dark patina, centered on a tight flan, corrosion, scratch, small edge splits, weight 20.522 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 177 - Dec 178 A.D.; obverse L AVREL COMMODVS AVG TR P III, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse LIBERTAS AVG IMP II COS P P, Libertas standing half left, pileus (freedom cap) in right hand, vindicta (long rod) vertical in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Philippopolis, Thrace

|Philippopolis|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Philippopolis,| |Thrace|, |AE| |21|
Hermes is the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of thieves and road travelers, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures, of invention, of general commerce, and of the cunning of thieves and liars. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, and the caduceus. The analogous Roman deity is Mercury.
MA95626. Bronze AE 21, RPC Online IV.1 T7548, Mouchmov Philip 194 ff., BMC Thrace -, SNG Cop -, VF, green patina, some porosity, reverse off center, weight 5.367 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 180o, Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AVT KAI Λ AVP-H KOMO∆OC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOΠOΛEITΩN, Hermes standing slightly left, head left, purse in right hand, chlamys and caduceus in left hand; rare; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00


|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Victory| |Britannia|, |sestertius|NEW
Dio Cassius records Commodus sent his former governor of Britain, Ulpius Marcellus, back to the island in 180 after tribes from the north killed a Roman general with all his guards, presumably during an inspection of Hadrian's Wall. Marcellus made punitive raids north of the border and may have attempted to reoccupy the Antonine Wall. However, he ultimately withdrew to Hadrian's Wall and probably concluded treaties with the relevant tribes. The forts north of the wall were abandoned. Little else is known of the revolt except that Dio called it the most serious war of Commodus' reign and reported that it was not quelled until about 184, when Commodus assumed the title of Britannicus and commemorative coins were issued.
RB94226. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 452 (S); BMCRE IV 560; Cohen III 946; MIR 18 665; Banti 414; SCBC II 5826; Hunter II -, aF, centered on a tight flan, scratches, porous, legends weak and partly off flan, flaw above ear on obverse, weight 22.942 g, maximum diameter 30.32 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 184 - Dec 185 A.D.; obverse M COMMODVS ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT, laureate head right, crossed wreath ties; reverse P M TR P X IMP VII COS IIII P P, winged Victory seated right on pile of shields and arms, nude to waist, with stylus in right hand, preparing to inscribe shield held with left hand and set on left knee, S - C (senatus consulto) divided low across field, VICT BRIT in exergue; scarce; $5.50 (5.06)







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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

COMMANTAVGPBRIT
COMMANTFELAVGPBRIT
COMMODOCAESAVGFILGERM
COMMODOCAESAVGFILGERMSARM
COMMODVSCAESAVGFILGERM
DIVOCOMMODO
IMPCAESLAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
IMPCAESLAVRELCOMMODVSGERMSARM
IMPLAVRELCOMMAVGGERMSARM
IMPLAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
LAELAVRCOMAVGPF
LAELAVRELCOMMAVGPFEL
LAVRECOMMODVSAVG
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVG
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGTRPIII
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGTRPIIII
LCOMMODVSAVG
MANTONINVSCOMMODVSAVG
MAVRELANCOMMAVGPFEL
MCOMMANTAVGPBRIT
MCOMMANTAVGPBRITFEL
MCOMMANTPFELAVGBRIT
MCOMMANTPFELAVGBRITPP
MCOMMANTOAVGPIVSFEL
MCOMMANTAVGBRIT
MCOMMANTONAVGPIVSBRIT
MCOMMANTONVSPIVSBRIT
MCOMMODANTPFELIXAVGBRITPP
MCOMMODVSANTONAVGPIVS
MCOMMODVSANTONINVSAVG
MCOMMODVSANTONINVSAVGPIVS
MCOMMODVSANTPFELIXAVGBRIT


REFERENCES|

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayn, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 3: Marcus Aurelius to Clodius Albinus. (Paris, 1883).
Mattingly, H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. III: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1930).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 4: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1940).
Mouchmov, N. Le Tresor Numismatique De Reka-Devnia (Marcianopolis). (Sofia, 1934).
Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) http://numismatics.org/ocre/
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Szaivert, W. Die Mnzprgung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus un Commodus (161-192). (Wien, 1984).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

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