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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Roman CountermarkedView Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Imperial Roman and Roman Provincial Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., SPQR (Vindex?) Countermark

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Legend claims Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While this rumor is probably not true, Nero did sing and play the lyre at other times. He even composed songs that were performed by entertainers across the empire. At first, Nero only performed for private audiences, but in 64, when this coin was struck, he began singing in public in Neapolis. Nero craved the attention, but also he was encouraged to perform in public by the Senate, his inner circle and the people. Nero's famous dying words were "Qualis artifex pereo," which translates, "What an artist dies in me!"

The S P Q R countermarks were applied by Gallic rebels probably under Vindex. They appear on Lugdunum mint sestertii, dupondii and asses of Nero.
RB86167. Orichalcum as, RIC I 454, Mac Dowall WCN 570, BnF II 110, Cohen I 244, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SRCV I -; c/m: Pangerl 26, F, some legend unstruck, pitting, weight 10.457 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 195o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG - GERM P M TR P IMP P P, bare head right, globe at point of neck; countermark: S P Q R in a rectangular punch (on neck); reverse PONTIF MAX - TR POT IMP P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power, imperator, father of the country), Nero as Apollo Citharoedus, advancing right in flowing robes, singing and playing the lyre, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field, I (mark of value) in exergue; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Incitatus Coins (2012); very rare variety with the same titles in the obverse and reverse legends; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. Cities in Thrace and Asia minor sometimes formed alliances with other cities. The competition for prestige and rivalry between cities in the East was intense. Alliances could enhance a city’s status by aligning either with many cities or with particularly important ones. Homonoia was part of civic "foreign policy" and might have involved the exchange of delegates and joint celebrations and sacrifices. At least 87 cities issued homonoia coins celebrating their alliances.
RP77248. Bronze AE 28, Franke-Nolle, type VI, 857 (Vs.C/Rs.18); cf. SNGvA 3668; SNG Tubingen 4054; Lindgren III 596, VF, tight flan, obscure countermark on obverse, weight 9.924 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AY• K• - ΠOY• ΛIK• OYAΛEPAN/OC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front, round countermark on face; reverse IEPAΠOΛE/ITΩN - KE - CAP∆IANΩN, Apollo on left, standing right, plectrum in right hand, kithara in left hand; cult statue of Kore facing, wearing kalathos and veil, NEOKOPΩN downward in right field, OMONOYA in exergue; very rare; $215.00 (€182.75)
 


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

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Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.
RY86830. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online IV 8532 (52 spec.); SNG Hunterian 2628 (same c/m); BMC Galatia p. 125, 8 (same); SNG Cop 28; countermark: Howgego 453 (32 pcs.), aF, c/m VF, tight flan, earthen deposits, corrosion, edge cracks , weight 10.192 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma mint, 138 - 161 A.D.; obverse AYTO KAI TIT AIΛ A∆P ANTWNEINOC CEB EY (or similar), laureate head right, countermark: 5-pointed star in same shaped 5 mm punch; reverse ZEYΓMTEWN, tetrastyle temple, a rectangular walled and colonnaded peribolos before the temple containing sacred grove, crescent with horns up above, obscure officina letter upper left; ex Beast Coins; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77253. Bronze AE 24, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, F, well centered, edge crack, punch or flan flaw on the reverse; countermark: F, weight 5.388 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $65.00 (€55.25)
 







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REFERENCES

Baker, R. "The Countermarks Found on Ancient Roman Coins: A Brief Introduction" in SAN XV (1984). pp. 52-58.
Barag, D. "The countermarks of the Legio Decima Fretensis" in Kindler Patterns. (Tel-Aviv, 1967).
Barag, D. & S. Qedar. "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War" in INJ 13 (1994).
Howgego, C. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Kenyon, R. "The countermark PROB on coins of Claudius from Britain" in NC 148 (1988).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
Mac Dowall, D. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68" in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie" in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Topalov, S. New Contributions to the Study of the Countermarking of Coins in the Area of the West Pontic Cities, 3rd - 1st c. B.C. (Sofia, 2002).
Werz, U. "Die Gegenstempel von Kalkriese und der Münzumlauf in frühtiberischer Zeit in der Germania inferior und superior" in Wiegels, p. 237 - 252.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

Catalog current as of Monday, July 16, 2018.
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Countermarked Roman Coins