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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The ImperatorsView Options:  |  |  |   

Coins of the Roman Imperators

Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

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The obverse legend abbreviates Consul Designatus, Iterum et Tertium, meaning Consul Elect for the second and third time. The reverse legend abbreviates Triumvir Reipublicae Constituendae, the title adopted in November of 43 B.C. by the three Caesarian leaders (Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus) when they formed the Second Triumvirate to oppose the tyrannicides Brutus and Cassius.
SH86609. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2202, Sydenham 1198, Crawford 263, RSC Octavia and M. Antony 3, Sear CRI 263, BMCRR East 135, SRCV I 1513, Choice gVF, toned, well centered, some die wear and rust, scratches, weight 11.723 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, summer - autumn 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT (Consul Elect for the 2nd and 3rd time), conjoined head of Antony and bust of Octavia right, Antony nearer and wreathed in ivy, Octavia draped; reverse Dionysus standing half left on cista mystica, in his right hand, thyrsus in his left hand, flanked by two interlaced snakes with heads erect, III VIR (triumvir) downward on left, R P C (Reipublicae Constituendae) upward on right; $3000.00 (€2550.00)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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In Feb 44 B.C. the senate named Julius Caesar dictator for life. Fearing that he wished to become king, on the 15th of Mar, 63 senators assassinated him with their knives. His assassination plunged the Roman Republic into 17 years of civil war, after which it would re-emerge as the Roman Empire.
SH82705. Silver denarius, Alföldi Caesar, type III, 115 (this coin); BMCRR Rome 4147 (also I); Crawford 480/3; RSC I 34; Sydenham 1056; Sear Imperators 100; RBW 1678 (H) , gVF, toned, banker’s mark on obverse, areas of flat strike, attractive deep old cabinet toning, with hints of iridescence around the devices, weight 3.607 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 30o, Rome mint, moneyer M. Mettius, Jan - Feb 44 B.C.; obverse CAESAR·IMP, wreathed head of Caesar right, cymbium (boat shaped cup used as a wine ladle) and lituus (augural wand) behind; reverse M METTIVS, Venus standing left, Victory in her extended right hand, long transverse scepter in left hand, resting left elbow on shield which rests on globe, I (control letter) in lower left field; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 23 (9 Jan 2016), lot 376; ex Andrew McCabe Collection; ex CNG e-auction 237 (21 July 2010), lot 344; ex Professor L Fontana Collection; rare; $2000.00 (€1700.00)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire

SH87326. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, toned, light bumps and marks, slightly off center, weight 3.607 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 285o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); ex Ibercoin (Madrid), online sale 22 (27 Jun 2018), lot 228; $1080.00 (€918.00)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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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. Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet) and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. Elephants were sometimes used to pull the chariots of the Caesars, in their triumphs or consular processions. When he returned to Rome, Julius Caesar ascended the Capitol illuminated by forty elephants bearing torches.
SH87287. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, gVF, nice elephant, light toning, off center, uneven strike, bumps and marks, areas of slight porosity, small filled die spots on ladle and sprinkler, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.803 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 75o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); $800.00 (€680.00)


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)


Roman Republic, Dictatorship of Julius Caesar, L Hostilius Saserna, 48 B.C.

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The events of 48 B.C. are among the best known of ancient history. Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus and later was greeted at Alexandria with a gift of Pompey's head. The twenty-one-year-old Cleopatra VII had herself delivered to him rolled in a carpet and became his mistress. Caesar and Cleopatra defeated Ptolemy XIII, but during the battle the Library of Alexandria was burned.

This type refers to Caesar's taking of Massilia early in the war with Pompey. Artemis Ephesia was held in special reverence at Massilia, where they had a temple dedicated to her.
RR82689. Silver denarius, Crawford 448/3, Sydenham 953, RSC I Hostilia 4, Sear Imperators 19, BMCRR Rome 3996, SRCV I 419, gVF, attractive toning, light marks, die wear, reverse slightly off center, weight 3.993 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 90o, Rome mint, 48 B.C.; obverse bare head of Gallia right with long disheveled hair, carnyx (Gallic trumpet) behind; reverse cultus statue of Diana (Artemis) of Ephesus standing facing, laureate, long hair falling down her shoulders and long flowing robes, holding stag left by its antlers with her right hand, vertical spear in left hand, SASERNA curving upward on left, L ? HOSTILIVS downward on right; ex Gorny and Mosch auction 176 (10 Mar 2009), lot 1962; scarce; $450.00 (€382.50)


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

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This LEG VII was probably raised by Antony and disbanded by Octavian. It may have been the XV Apollinaris, a legion later was reconstituted by Octavian. The VII Claudia, an old legion of Caesar's, fought for Octavian.
SH82693. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/20, Sydenham 1224, BMCRR II East 198, RSC I 34, Sear CRI 357, Choice aEF, dark iridescent toning, well centered and struck, weight 3.750 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, Patrae(?) mint, autumn 32 - spring 31 B.C.; obverse ANT?AVG / III?VIR?R?P?C?, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - VII, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; $450.00 (€382.50)


Octavian, Triumvir and Imperator, c. 31 - 30 B.C., Colonia Julia, Cilicia

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The location of this mint has been the subject of some debate. The monograms on the reverse abbreviate the names of the two duovirs.
RP85834. Bronze AE 20, RPC I 4083 (21 spec.), SNG Levante 597, SNG BnF 778, Lindgren-Kovacs 1553, VF, tight flan, bumps and scratches, light deposits, weight 5.626 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 135o, Colonia Julia mint, c. 31 - 30 B.C.; obverse PRINCEPS FELIX, bare head of Octavian right; countermark edge upper right: capricorn (or Pegasos?) right in a rectangular punch; reverse two humped oxen pulling plow left, COLONIA / IVLIA in two lines above and lower right, IIVIR (duovirs) in upper right field, VE and TER monograms in left field; countermark edge lower left: branch(?) in an oval punch; $140.00 (€119.00)


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain Mint, Anatolia or Syria

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The mint, the quaestor who struck this type, and even the identity of the person in the portrait remain uncertain. The type has previously been attributed to Macedonia and the portrait identified as Brutus (Friedlander) or Caesar (Grant). David Sear notes the type has never been found in Macedonia. Finds point to Syria or Anatolia. It is possible that the type was issued, with his own portrait, by Sosius, a general under Marc Antony who was quaestor in 39 B.C. Much more likely, however, the portrait is of Augustus.
RP77502. Bronze AE 28, RPC I 5409; Sear CRI 957 (Syria); AMNG II 29 (Pella), F, porous, scratches, weight 19.349 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Anatolian or Syrian mint, obverse bare head right; reverse hasta (spear), sella quaestoria (quaestor's seat of office), and fiscus (imperial treasury), Q (for quaestor) below; ex H.D. Rauch e-auction 15 (16 Jun 2014), lot 145; $110.00 (€93.50)


Mark Antony and Octavian, 2nd Triumvirate, Thessalonica, Macedonia, 37 B.C.

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The reverse inscription abbreviates, MAPKOΣ ANTΩNIONΣ AYTOKPATΩP ΓAIOΣ KAIΣAP AYTOKPATΩP. The bust of Libertas on the obverse "refers to the grant of freedom by the Triumvirs to Thessalonica in 42 BC after the battle of Philippi (the victory which is celebrated on the reverse)." -- RPC I, p. 29

In 37 B.C., Cleopatra loaned Antony the money for the army. After a five-month siege, the Romans took Jerusalem from the Parthians. Herod the Great made king by Anthony, took control of his capital. Antigonus was taken to Antioch where Antony had him executed. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered by the Roman troops supporting Herod.
RP83539. Bronze AE 29, BMC Macedonia p. 115, 63; RPC I 1551/20-26; Sear CRI 672; SNG Cop 374; SNG ANS 823, aF, green patina on yellow brass, edge splits corrosion, weight 23.685 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, 37 B.C.; obverse ΘEΣΣAΛONKEΩN EΛEYΘEPIAΣ, diademed and draped bust of Eleutheria (Liberty) right, E (year 5) below chin; reverse M ANT AYT Γ KAI AYT, Nike advancing left, extending wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; $95.00 (€80.75)




  



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REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Carson, R. Principal Coins of the Romans, Vol. I: The Republic, c. 290-31 BC. (London, 1978).
Crawford, M. Roman Republican Coinage. (Cambridge, 1974).
Grueber, H.A. Coins of the Roman Republic in The British Museum. (London, 1910).
Rutter, N.K. ed. Historia Numorum. Italy. (London, 2001).
Seaby, H.A., D. Sear, & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Volume I, The Republic to Augustus. (London, 1989).
Sear, D. R. The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49 - 27 BC. (London, 1998).
Sear, D. R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sydenham, E. The Coinage of the Roman Republic. (London, 1952).

Catalog current as of Friday, July 20, 2018.
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The Imperators