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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Roman Countermarked||View 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.


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Legio X Fretensis Countermark

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In 72 A.D. the Roman governor Lucius Flavius Silva laid siege to Masada, a desert fortress, the last outpost of the Jewish rebels following the end in 70 of the First Jewish Revolt. The Legio X Fretensis surrounded the mountain fortress with a 7-mile long siege wall and built a rampart of stones and beaten earth against the western approach. In the Spring of 73 A.D., 960 Zealots under the leadership of Eleazar ben Ya'ir committed mass suicide when defeat became imminent.
SL89795. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC II 1156, Lyon 41, BMCRE II , Cohen I , SRCV I; countermark: Howgego 733 (reign of Domitian, 84-96 A.D.), NGC G, strike 4/5, surface 3/5, countermark LXF [=Legio X Fretensis] (2490386-006), weight 10.912 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 71 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIAN AVG COS III (or IIII), radiate head right, globe at point of bust; countermark: LXF (Legio X Fretensis) in a rectangular punch; reverse SECVRITAS AVGVSTI, Securitas seated right, resting head on raised hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, flaming altar to right, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $600.00 (€528.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Sestos, Thracian Chersonesos

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Sestos was an ancient town of the Thracian Chersonesos, the modern Gallipoli peninsula in European Turkey. Situated on the Hellespont opposite Abydos, it was an Aeolian colony, founded by settlers from Lesbos, and the home of Hero in the legend of Hero and Leander.
CM89992. Bronze AE 18, RPC I 1740 (2 spec.; RPC online 6 spec., 2 with c/m), Varbanov III 2967 (R7); c/m: Howqego 460 (1 spec., same coin type, same placement), VF, tight flan, reverse a bit flattened opposite countermark, weight 3.485 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 0o, Sestos mint, obverse CEBACTOY, bare head right, countermark: six pointed star in a 7mm round punch; reverse CHCTI, lyre; very rare; $180.00 (€158.40)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Parion, Mysia

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Plotina was Trajan's wife, married to him before he became emperor. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. Marciana was Trajan's eldest sister and the mother of Matidia. She was an accomplished woman who lost her husband before her brother's succession. Matidia lived as a widow with Plotina and they were united by the tenderest and most uninterrupted friendship. Both were awarded the title Augusta at the same time in 105. Marciana died c. 112 - 114. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
RP93845. Bronze AE 17, RPC III 1543 (17 spec.), SNG BnF 1468, Weber 5151; countermark: Howgego 304, F, dark green patina, light earthen deposits, weight 2.763 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, c. 105 - 114 A.D.; obverse TRAIAN AVG, laureate head right; countermark: Capricorn right in an oval punch; reverse MARCIANA AVG PLOTINA, confronting draped busts of Plotina, on left, and Marciana, on right; rare; $160.00 (€140.80)
 


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 Tübingen 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; $130.00 (€114.40)
 


Livia, Wife of Augustus and Mother of Tiberius, 22 - 23 A.D.

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The countermark NCAPR was applied to numerous orichalcum coins of the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius. NCAPR is most often explained as "Nero Caesar Augustus Populo Romano." Others believe NCAPR abbreviates "Nummus Caesare Augusto Probatus" or "Nero Caesar Augustus Probavit" (probavit means approved). Excavations of the Meta Sudans and the northeastern slope of the Palatine Hill in Rome indicate that this countermark was applied for Nero's congiarium (distribution to the people) in 57 A.D., which supports the Populo Romano interpretation. Varieties of this relatively common countermark are identified by some authors as applied in either Italy, Spain or Gaul. The countermark is not found on coins bearing the name or portrait of Caligula. Clearly any coins of Caligula that were still in circulation and collected for application of the countermark were picked out and melted down, in accordance with his damnatio, rather than being countermarked and returned to circulation. A NCAPR countermark has, however, been found on a Vespasian dupondius which, if genuine and official, seems to indicate the N may refer to Nerva, not Nero.
RB88864. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC I T43 (S); BMCRE I T98; BnF II T74; Hunter I T26; Cohen p. 170, 1; SRCV I 1741; countermark: Pangerl 60a, Werz 138, aF, well centered, bumps, scratches, porosity, corrosion, weight 12.614 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 22 - 23 A.D.; obverse veiled, draped bust of Livia or Livilla as Pietas right, wearing stephane, PIETAS below; reverse DRVSVS CAESAR TI AVGVSTI F TR POT ITER, legend around large S C (senatus consulto), countermark: NCAPR in a rectangular punch; scarce; $105.00 (€92.40)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Struck at Rome for use in Syria

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This type is typically attributed to Antioch, but recent metallurgical tests suggest it was struck by the Rome mint for use in Syria.

In 115, Trajan was in Antioch for his war against Parthia, when the city was struck by an earthquake. He was forced to take shelter in the circus for several days. He and his successor restored the city.
RB91688. Orichalcum as, Woytek 937x (4 spec.), McAlee 507, RIC II 648, BMCRE III 1090 var. (bust), SRCV II 3243 var. (same); c/m: Howgego 378 (Antioch), aF, centered, roughly cleaned, partial green patina, brassy high points, scratches, weight 8.318 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 115 - 116 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GERM, radiate heroic bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder (chest and back); countermark: laurel branch with four leaves in a rectangular punch; reverse DAC PARTHICO P M TR POT XX COS VI P P, large S C in wreath; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; very rare; $80.00 (€70.40)
 







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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 Tuesday, October 22, 2019.
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Countermarked Roman Coins