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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: FAVORITE HISTORICAL COINS 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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« on: October 14, 2003, 11:27:55 am »

In this thread, please post your favorite or interesting historical coins.  Please include a pic, complete attribution to the best of your ability and a narrative on the historical event and its signicance.  I would like this thread to be very interesting reading.  In other words, please no chat here.  
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2003, 04:30:35 pm »

L. Manlius Torquatus, L MANLI PROQ, helmeted head of Roma, R / Triumphator in quadriga R, Victory above. Ex L SVLLA IM. 82BC. This is one of my favourites; it was issued to mark Sulla's triumph; the moment when the Senate completely lost control for the first time, and dictatorship in a sense we'd recognise today became a reality in Rome. After Sulla, the Republic really didn't have a future.
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2003, 08:46:18 am »

HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS, RIC 286, struck in 350 by Vetranio in support of Constantius II. I posted this one before but its distinctly cleaner now.
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2003, 02:22:14 pm »

Although many reference works on ancient numismatics classify Fecunditas as a personification of fertility rather than as an actual deity, Fecunditas was recognized as a Roman divinity by Nero, who erected a statue to her. Tacitus notes that upon the birth of Claudia Neronis, Nero's joy for his new daughter "exceeded human measure" and the infant and her mother, Poppaea, were both hailed Augusta.   Furthermore, the senate decreed the construction of a temple of Fertility, presumably to be built at Antium, the birthplace of little Claudia.  Unfortunately, the baby empress died at only four months of age.  Stricken with grief, Nero had her declared a goddess.  The temple of Fecunditas is likely the one depicted on the only coin that honors Claudia Neronis:

Æ 19mm (5.34g) of Caesarea Panias, Trachonitis, Syria, struck AD 65 under Nero. Obv: DIVA POPPAEA AVG, distyle temple of Diva Poppaea, female figure within. Rev: DIVA CLAVD NER F, round hexastyle temple of Diva Claudia, female figure within. RPC I 4846; Hendin 578; Sear 2058; Vagi 746.  (Sorry about the scan--the coin is better in hand)

The imperial couple conceived another child shortly after Claudia's death, but Poppaea died as a result of spousal abuse.  Because she chastised him for returning late from the races, Nero delivered a swift kick to Poppaea's pregnant belly that proved fatal to her and her unborn child.  In an effort that can only be seen as "too little, too late," Nero had Poppaea and the fetus deified.  The coin was issued in AD 65, shortly after Poppaea's death, and hence carries the inscription,  DIVA POPPAEA AVG.
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2005, 06:32:24 pm »

In 53 BCE Crassus and seven legions crossed the Euphrates, trying to take the most direct route to Seleucia, capital of the old Seleucian Empire. Crassus' soldiers were plagued by heat and thirst so Surenas, the Parthian general, waited until they were in open country near the town of Carrhae. He then attacked, fighting at long range using horse archers which the legions were unable to engage. Crassus tried to rally his men and withdrew to a nearby hill but his position was untenable and he and his son, Publius, were killed along with 20,000 of their men. The Parthians took the legionary standards as the spoils of war.
Augustus achieved a diplomatic victory in 20 BCE, when he recovered those standards which he installed in a small round domed temple to Mars Ultor, built specially to house them. The temple, situated on the Capitol in Rome, was dedicated on the 12th of May of that year.

The reverse of the coin below shows the triumphal arch which was awarded to Augustus on the occasion of his recovery of the standards. This was the second triumphal arch awarded to Augustus and, like the earlier arch which had been constructed in 29 BC to honour his victory over Cleopatra, this second arch stood in close proximity to the Temple of Divus Julius at the southern entrance to the Roman Forum.


AR Cistophorus (3 denarii) of Pergamum. Struck c.19 - 18 B.C.
Obv: IMP IX TR PO V. Bare head of Augustus facing right.
Rev: Triumphal arch surmounted by Augustus in facing triumphal quadriga; IMP IX TR POT V on architrave; S P R SIGNIS RECEPTIS in three lines within arch opening, standards at either side.
RIC I : 510 BMC : 703 RSC : 298.

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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2005, 03:01:20 am »

Crassus' bane, Orodes II (57-38 BC). Anyone got any more notable enemies of Rome?
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2005, 12:58:07 pm »

Quote
Anyone got any more notable enemies of Rome?

Surely Shapur I (240-271 AD) who used the unlucky Valerian I as a mounting block to get on his horse and had Valerian's skin hung up in a temple after he died.
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2005, 02:09:48 pm »

Here's his unfortunate footstool. PIETAS AVGG, with the two emperors sacrificing, celebrating the joint rule of himself and Gallienus.
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2005, 06:33:29 pm »

Hi Frederic,
That really is remarkable.  I had admired the coin because it is so beautiful, but I didn't know that the reverse legend was actually Commodus' re-christened Rome.  I had actually thought that Commodus renaming Romae was more of the "Hysteria Augusta" (exagerated stories).  Do you know if there are many other coins, writings, or engravings that show this amazing title?  I wonder how far from Rome this change in name made it.  I assume that within mintues of Pertinax becoming emperor the name reverted to Rome.  What a great historical coin!
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2005, 03:49:44 pm »

      Frederic follows the traditional expansion of this legend, which snags on a very powerful objection: since Commodus still calls himself Marcus on the obverse and was not to switch his praenomen back to Lucius until 191, a year later, why, on the reverse, does he name Rome Lucia and not Marcia?
      Chantraine in 1971, following a suggestion of Renier in 1872, proposed what seems to be the solution to the problem: the legend is to be expanded COLonia LANuvina COMModiana and commemorates Commodus' elevation of his birthplace Lanuvium, which had been a municipium, to the rank of colony.
      Commodus did refound Rome too, and this deed is commemorated on very rare mediallions, sestertii, and dupondii struck late in 192, just before his assassination.  These coins have the same rev. type of emperor plowing, but the legend HERCuli ROMano CONDITORI P M TR P XVIII COS VII P P,
"To the Roman Hercules, the Founder".
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2006, 11:36:01 am »

Thank you very much for that interesting addition.
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2006, 05:23:03 am »

This is the type of coin I find especially intteresting. It may not be dramatically historically important, but it has an interesting story.

It was struck in (or for) the city of Eumeneia in Phrygia around 41-40 B.C. The occasion for the issue was the city changing its name to Fulvia, after Marc Anthony's wife! Supposedly, the figure on the obverse is Fulvia depicted as Nike.

The reverse depicts Athena advancing left, holding spear and shield.

What is really interesting about the coin is the countermarks it bears. After Fulvia died the city took back its old name, i.e. Eumeneia. The name "Fulvia" was therefore erased from the reverse and a countermark bearing the monogram of "EVMNO" (or sim.) was applied to the obverse.

The name of the magistrate, Zmertorigos Philopatris, was already part of the reverse legend, although apparently a countermark bearing his monogram was also applied to the obverse.

So, a piece of ancient civic history. Not terribly important today, but an interesting look at local politics 2000 years ago.

Auto

(The usual reservation applies that the coin really looks a LOT nicer in hand than indicated by the picture...)
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2006, 10:25:04 am »

This is not my absolutely favorite ancient coin imbued with historical significance, but it's in my top 10:

ROMAN REPUBLIC: L. Cassius Longinus. AR denarius (4.03 gm). Rome, ca. 63 BC. Veiled head of Vesta left, cup behind, L below chin / LONGIN. III. V, togate citizen standing left, dropping ballot into voting urn. Crawford 413/1. RSC Cassia 10. RCTV 364. Extremely fine

The reverseof this Longinus denarius captures a fascinating moment when a Roman citizen casts his ballot.  The letter "U" is visible on the ballot.  Unless I'm mistaken, that letter on the ballot is an allusion to the law--requested by an ancestor of the mintmaster--which introduced the secret ballot in most proceedings of the popular court.
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2006, 04:14:14 am »

Here, too, is a denarius that celebrates the privilige and responsibility that is the foundation of a democratic society.  Granted, humanity had a long road ahead toward egalitarianism when this coin was struck, but isn't it an interesting testimony to civil liberty's heritage?  "The voter on the left (reverse) receives his voting tablet from an election officer.  Horizontal lines in the background indicate the barrier separating every voting division from the others.  Both voters go across narrow raised walks (pontes); this is intended to ensure that the voter is seen to cast his vote without influence" (Meier, Christian. Caesar: A Biography. Berlin: Severin and Siedler, 1982. Plate 12).  This significant coin precedes the Longinus denarius (above) by 50 years.


ROMAN REPUBLIC: P. Licinius Nerva. AR denarius (3.93 gm). Rome, ca. 113-112 BC. Helmeted bust of Roma left, holding spear over right shoulder and shield on left arm, crescent above, * before, ROMA behind / P. NERVA, voting scene showing two citizens casting their ballots in the Comitium, one receiving a ballot from an attendant, the other dropping his ballot into a vessel at right. Crawford 292/1. RSC Licinia 7. RCTV 169. Nearly very fine.
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« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2006, 03:23:03 pm »

Hi Cleisthenes!

You are right, this coin is historical very important. Thanks for sharing it!

Best regards
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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2006, 03:02:30 am »

Brutus Ides of March Denarius. 43-42 BC. BRVT IMP L PLAET CEST, head of Brutus right / EID MAR, liberty cap and two daggers. Cr508/3, Junia 52, Syd 1301.

For me, this coin represents one of the most intriguing "what if" stories in history.  What if Brutus and his co-assassins had not succeeded?  What if Caesar had lived?  All beautiful coins make me smile and shake my head in wonder (wow).  Some, as this coin does, also make me wonder (why . . . what if?).

"Obv:Marcus Junius Brustus: 'It depends much on what he wants; but what he wants, he wants utterly,' Caesar.  Coin struck by Lucius Plaetorius Cestius from the army of Caesar's assassins, commanded by Brutus:  Brut[us] Imp[perator]. Rev: To Caesar's assassins the Ides of March meant the day on which Rome was freed from the tyrant.  On this coin stuck in 43 or 42 BC in Brutus' army, the date (Eid[us] Mart[iae]) acquires the chararcter of a symbolic watchword: in the middle of the image is the pilleus, symbolizing liberty regained, and to left and right are the daggers used in the murder" (Meier, Christian. Caesar, A Biography. Berlin:Severin and Siedler, 1982. Plates 25, 26).

For more information on this coin see http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/imp/brutus/RSC_0015.2.txt
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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2006, 09:51:47 am »

Or again, what if they'd planned the thing properly, siezed Rome, killed Caesar's supporters like Octavian and Mark Anthony, and formed a government? They probably wouldn't have had the level of political skill needed to establish a stable dictatorship, the Republic was dead, what would have emerged?
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2006, 02:08:14 am »

D•SILANVS, Silver denarius
Rome mint, 91 B.C.
 
Although the coin itself does not commemorate the event, the date this coin was struck is historically significant.

MARCUS Livius DRUSUS (his father was the colleague of Gaius Gracchus in the tribuneship, 122 B.C.), became tribune of the people in 91 B.C. He was a thoroughgoing conservative, wealthy and generous, and a man of high integrity. With some of the more intelligent members of his party (such as Marcus Scaurus and L. Licinius Crassus the orator) he recognized the need of reform. At that time an agitation was going on for the transfer of the judicial functions from the equites to the senate; Drusus proposed as a compromise a measure which restored to the senate the office of judices, while its numbers were doubled by the admission of 300 equites. Further, a special commission was to be appointed to try and sentence all judices guilty of taking bribes. But the senate was lukewarm, and the equites, whose occupation was threatened, offered the most violent opposition. In order, therefore, to catch the popular votes, Drusus proposed the establishment of colonies in Italy and Sicily, and an increased distribution of corn at a reduced rate. By help of these riders the bill was carried. Drusus now sought a closer alliance with the Italians, promising them the long coveted boon of the Roman franchise. The senate broke out into open opposition. His laws were abrogated as informal, and each party armed its adherents for the civil struggle which was now inevitable. Drusus was stabbed one evening as he was returning home. His assassin was never discovered.

See Rome: History, ii. The Republic (Period C); also Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 35; Florus iii. 17; Diod. Sic. xxxvii. 10; Livy, Epil. 70; VeIl. Pat. ii. 13.
http://62.1911encyclopedia.org/D/DR/DRUSUS_MARCUS_LIVIUS.htm

The ensuing "Social War" (91-88 B.C.) would set the stage for the "Civil Wars" (88-87 & 82-81 B.C.) between, notably, Marius & Sulla, two men who would make significant impressions upon the mind of a young Julius CaesarCaesar would cross his Rubicon thirty years later.
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2006, 07:05:00 am »

Homereum
Ionia, Smyrna. Circa 125-115 B.C. AE; Homereum
AE 23mm; 7.95 gm. Eymelos and Ippyroy, Magistrate.  Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo right; Reverse: ÓÌÕÑÍÁÉÙÍ – EYMHËÏÓ I  ÉÐÐYÑOY, the poet Homer seated left, holding staff and scroll. Milne 221. VF.

In many ways, the poems of Homer have influenced most of us. Our notions of heroes (Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, etc.); faithfulness (Penelope); deception or cleverness (the Trojan horse); temptation (the Sirens)--the list goes on--have been shaped by The Illiad and The Odyssey. The cultural and literary significance of these two epic poems is difficult to exagerate.

Strabo mentions specifically this issue of bronze coinage from Smyrna when, discussing the city, he says ". . . there is also a library; and the 'Homereum', a quadrangular portico containing a shrine and wooden statue of Homer; for the Smyrnaeans also lay especial claim to the poet and indeed a bronze coin of theirs is called a Homereum" (Strabo, Geographica XIV, I.37, transl. by H.C. Jones, The Geography of Strabo, VI [Loeb, 1960], pp. 245-247).
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2006, 11:31:25 am »

One of the things that are so fascinating about Homer's epics is the fact that they are the oldest surviving European literature, which thus starts off not with primitive attempts but with a BIG BANG hardly ever equalled since (Shakespeare?).

Rupert
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2006, 07:26:25 am »

One of the things that are so fascinating about Homer's epics is the fact that they are the oldest surviving European literature, which thus starts off not with primitive attempts but with a BIG BANG hardly ever equalled since (Shakespeare?).

Rupert

Rupert,

Your comparison to Shakespeare is interesting, and one with which I agree.  I am inclined to include Dante (late 13th--early 14th century).  In The Inferno, he does a masterful job of combining Christian and Pagan mythological figures.  I'd bring the work of these gents with me to the proverbial desert island if I were forced to choose.

Cheers, Jim
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2006, 09:09:36 am »

Homer (early Iron Age!) archetypically characterizes humans in a way that these figures were known to educated people through millennia and still fascinate us 3,000 years later in the Internet Age, like Odysseus, Achilles, Helena, Penelope etc. Same goes for Shakespeare (ok, half a millennium...) with characters like Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and many more (I'm not educated enough to know them all Wink).

Rupert
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« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2006, 06:35:03 am »

Here is a coin that reflects the current 'subject' of the thread.  It seems that Q. Pomponius Musa was 'up' for having pun with his name (pun intended).  The reverse device pictures Calliope; she is the muse (hence Musa's choice) of epic poetry.  She must have sung especially sweetly to Homer.  Musa has a series of reverse types that list many of the muses--i.e. Terpsichore, the muse of dancing (I am not sure if he covers them all).

Denarius, 66 BC, 4.08g. Cr-410/2a, Syd-811, Pomponia 2a. Obv: Head of Apollo r., lyre-key behind. Rx: Calliope standing r., playing lyre set on column, Q POMPONI before, MVSA behind.

Cleisthenes (Jim)
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« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2006, 03:04:24 am »

Actium

The Battle of Actium was a naval battle of the Roman Civil War between Mark Antony and Octavian (Caesar Augustus). It was fought on September 2, 31 BC, near the Roman colony of Actium in Greece (near the modern-day city of Preveza), on the Ionian Sea. Octavian's fleet was commanded by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Antony's fleet was supported by the fleet of his lover, Cleopatra, queen of Ptolemaic Egypt. The battle was won by the forces of Octavian, whose victory led him to be titled the Princeps Augustus, and eventually to be considered the first Roman Emperor; for this reason the date of the battle is often used to mark the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Actium)
 
Following the Battle of Actium, Octavian invaded Egypt. As he approached Alexandria, Antony's armies deserted to Octavian on August 12, 30 BC.  Learning that her lover had taken his own life, Cleopatra does the same.  Cleopatra's death is used by numismatists to mark the end of the “Hellenistic Period” of Greek coinage that begins with the accession of Alexander the Great as King of Macedon in 336 BC (Sayles, Wayne G. Ancient Coin Collecting, 2nd Edition. Iola: Krause Publications, 19).

Augustus & Agrippa AE Dupondius. Nemausus mint, 10 BC - 10 AD. IMP DIVI F, laureate heads of Avgustus and Tiberius facing out / COL-NEM, Crocodile chained to palm. Cohen 7.  The the reverse shows a defeated Egypt sybolically depicted as the nile crocodile chained to a palm tree, and the obverse portrays the two victors of Actium, Octavianus Augustus and Agrippa.

The Battle of Actium, by Lorenzo A. Castro, 1672.


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« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2006, 05:26:19 pm »

A wonderful coin! I hope it is yours!

Here  I want to present one of my favourite historical coins. Not only because of its colour but of its historical importance too!

Roman Republic, C. Clovius, gens Clovia
AE Dupondius 27mm, 14.87 g
North Italian mint, 45 BC
obv. Draped and winged bust of Victory r., wearing hair up; star behind
        CAESAR. DIC. TER
rev. Minerva walking l., holding trophy over shoulder, spear and shield, decorated with Medusa;
       erect serpent at feet l.
       [C.] CLOVI before, PRAEF behind
Crawford 476/1a; RPC I 601/1; CRI 62; Sydenham 1025; C.7
Scarce to rare with excellent provenance, qabout VF, attractive yellow-olive river-patina
Ex Glendining’s (25 June 1997), lot 45.
Ex CNG

Caesar's victory over the Pompeians at Munda on 17 March 45 BC resulted in a total victory for the dictator, thus bringing to an end the Pompeian opposition to his supremacy in the Roman world. The remarkable Caesarian aes issue represented by this well-preserved specimen would appear to be closely associated with the gold aurei and quinarii of L. Plancus struck in Rome in the autumn of 45 BC for the purpose of distribution at Caesar's Spanish triumph. The issue of Roman aes at this time was a great novelty as regular production had ceased four decades before and was not destined to be resumed until the Augustan reform of circa 19-18 BC. The idea probably originated with the Pompeian coinage of bronze asses issued in Spain prior to the battle of Munda. Caesar's issue would have served the purpose of low value donation pieces for distribution to the populace during the triumphal procession through the streets of Rome. The bust of Victory and the warlike figure of Minerva convey a clear message that this was a special coinage issued for the celebration of a military success. Not a great deal is known of C. Clovius (or Cluvius), the prefect entrusted with the production of this most unusual coinage. We are not even sure of the precise nature of his prefectship, though it is tempting to assume that he was one of the six praefecti Urbi appointed by Caesar before he set out for Spain. In 44 BC he was governor of Cisalpine Gaul and there appear to be later references to him during Augustus' rule.

This example represents the first time that orichalchum ("mountain copper"), or brass was used to strike coins and commemorates Caesar's victory in Spain. For the first time in almost forty years, aes coinage was reintroduced, and one may suspect that, as in the case of contemporary Pompeian issues from Spain, the reason was to recall traditional republican ideas. The style of those coins draws its inspiration from the traditional Janus types. Caesar, however, was completely new, not only in the material, but also the theme. Here, the bust of Victory for the obverse and Minerva for the reverse, sends a clear message about Caesar's military abilities. Who the prefect Clovius is, what prefecture he held, or from what mint these coins originate remain matters still open to debate, though hoard finds suggest a northern Italian origin, possibly Milan.
(from CNG)

Best regards

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