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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Greek Countermarked||View Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Ancient Greek 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.

Aspendos, Pamphylia, 370 - 333 B.C.

|Aspendos|, |Aspendos,| |Pamphylia,| |370| |-| |333| |B.C.||stater|
The countermark appears to be a Hoplite advancing right with sword in right and round shield in left, in oval incuse. The hoplite represents the soldiery for which Aspendus was famous. The astonishing abundance of the silver money of Aspendus is a proof of the commercial importance of the town; and the number of countermarks and barbarous imitations shows that it circulated widely in the region.22.6
SH95389. Silver stater, Arslan-Lightfoot 39; SNGvA 4561; Tekin Series 4, 11; SNG BnF 84; SNG Cop 231; SNG Berry 1224 (all same obv die), VF, attractive rainbow toning, typical slightly flat strike, weight 10.855 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 370 - 333 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers, the left one holds the wrist of his opponent with his right and right forearm with his left hand, AK between their legs; reverse slinger, wearing short chiton, discharging sling to right, triskeles on right with feet clockwise, EΣTΦE∆IIYΣ upward on left, countermark lower right: lion head right in a round 3.6mm punch; ex Forum (2011); $750.00 SALE |PRICE| $675.00
 


Side, Pamphylia, c. 145 - 125 B.C.

|Side|, |Side,| |Pamphylia,| |c.| |145| |-| |125| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
In 190 B.C. a fleet from Rhodes, supported by Rome and Pergamum, defeated the Seleucid fleet under the command of the fugitive Carthaginian general Hannibal. The Seleucid defeat freed Side from the overlord-ship of the Seleucid Empire. The Treaty of Apamea (188 B.C.) left Side in a state of uncertain freedom. It was during this period of autonomy that Side struck these tetradrachms. It would last until 36 B.C. when the city came under the rule of the Roman client King of Galatia, Amyntas.
GS92896. Silver tetradrachm, SNGvA 4796 (also with anchor c/m); SNG BnF 694; BMC Pamphylia p. 148, 46 (KΛE-YX), Choice VF, well centered, reverse strike a little flat, obverse flattened opposite of countermark, weight 16.505 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, magistrate Kleuch-, c. 145 - 125 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right in a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Nike advancing left, wreath extended in right hand, pomegranate in left field, KΛ-E (magistrate's name) divided across field below center; countermark: anchor within incuse rectangle; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 77 (5 May 2019), lot 287; $500.00 SALE |PRICE| $450.00
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 300 - 150 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Larissa,| |Thessaly,| |Greece,| |c.| |300| |-| |150| |B.C.||trichalkon|
According to mythology, Larissa was founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his grandson, Perseus; the nymph Larissa was a daughter of the primordial man Pelasgu; Achilles was born at Larissa, and Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine"; died there. Today, Larissa is the capital and largest city of the Thessaly region and an important commercial, agricultural, and industrial center of Greece.
GB92063. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly 1172.1 (same countermark), BCD Thessaly II 394.1 (same countermark), SNG Cop 147, Rogers 309, HGC 4 530 (S), BMC Thessaly -, VF, well centered, attractive dark patina, interesting countermark, some flatness of strike, edge crack, beveled obverse edge; c/m: VF, weight 11.952 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 300 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa right, monogram behind; countermark on cheek: spiked helmet with visor, neck and cheek guards in a c. 6mm oval punch; reverse cavalryman prancing right, wearing spiked helmet, couched lance in right hand, star upper left, ΛA-PI/ΣNΩN divided above and below; ex Numismatik Lanz München, auction 112 (25 Nov 2002), 193; scarce; $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Kalchedon, Bithynia Countermark

|Greek| |Countermarked|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Kalchedon,| |Bithynia| |Countermark||drachm|
Similar head (some Demeter, some Apollo, possibly some Persephone) with K or KA monogram countermarks were found along with coins countermarked at Byzantium in the Buyukcekmece Hoard. That find provides almost certain proof that the countermarks were applied at Kalchedon. It was previously believe the head K countermarks were applied at Kallatis because some coins with these Kalchedon countermarks also bear KAΛ countermarks from Kallatis. Based on the mint dates and wear of coins in the hoard, the Buyukcekmece burial may have been connected to the war between Byzantium and Rhodes in 220/219 B.C.
SL95875. Silver drachm, countermark: See Price p. 69 and Buyukcekmece Hoard pp. 18 ff. for similar countermarks from Calchedon, NGC VF, strike 4/5, surface 1/5, scratches (5872605-039), weight 3.94 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 0o, countermark: 280 - 220 B.C.; obverse Herakles head right wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress, countermark: head right (Apollo?), K right (and A or die break lower right), all within 8.5mm circular punch; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; NGC| Lookup; very rare countermark; $300.00 SALE |PRICE| $270.00
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

|Countermarked|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |II| |Philadelphos,| |285| |-| |246| |B.C.||tritartemorion|NEW
 
CM95812. Bronze tritartemorion, cf. Lorber CPE B227, Svoronos 451; countermark apparently unpublished, coin: Fair, nice green patina, marks, encrustations, closed crack, beveled obverse edge, central cavities; countermark: gF+, weight 9.064 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 267 - 259 B.C.; obverse bust of Alexander the Great right, wearing elephant skin headdress; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing on thunderbolt facing left, wings open, E(?) between legs; countermark: shaped punch of helmeted bust of Athena right; ex Zeus Numismatics auction 5 (15 Mar 2020), lot 1105; no other examples of this countermark are known to FORVM, it is possibly unique; $220.00 SALE |PRICE| $198.00 ON RESERVE


Roman Republic, Anonymous, 211 - 206 B.C.

|before| |150| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Anonymous,| |211| |-| |206| |B.C.||as|
Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. Janus is believed to be one of the few major deities in Roman mythology that does not have a Greek origin or counterpart.
RR88221. Bronze as, Crawford 56/2, Sydenham 143, BMCRR Rome 373 ff., SRCV I 627, F, green patina, crack, porous, weight 29.386 g, maximum diameter 33.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 211 - 206 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Janus, I (mark of value) above, countermark: head right in round punch; reverse war galley prow right, I (mark of value) above, ROMA in exergue; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; $130.00 SALE |PRICE| $117.00
 


Alexandreia Troas, Troas, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

|Troas|, |Alexandreia| |Troas,| |Troas,| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||AE| |19|
Alexandria Troas (modern Eski Stambul) is on the Aegean Sea near the northern tip of the west coast of Anatolia, a little south of Tenedos (modern Bozcaada). The city was founded by Antigonus around 310 B.C. with the name Antigoneia and was populated with the inhabitants of Cebren, Colone, Hamaxitus, Neandria, and Scepsis. About 301 B.C., Lysimachus improved the city and re-named it Alexandreia. Among the few structure ruins remaining today are a bath, an odeon, a theater and gymnasium complex and a stadium. The circuit of the old walls can still be traced.
CM89990. Bronze AE 19, SNG Cop 96 (same countermarks); cf. BMC Troas p. 12, 29 ff.; SNG Munchen 92 f.; SNGvA 1461, F, scattered porosity, edge crack, clear countermarks, weight 3.948 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo facing; c/m: lyre; reverse lyre, AΛEΞAN (or similar) around), all within laurel wreath; c/m: star of six rays around a central pellet within a 7.5mm round punch; $120.00 SALE |PRICE| $108.00
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus III the Great, c. 223 - 187 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Antiochus| |III| |the| |Great,| |c.| |223| |-| |187| |B.C.||AE| |18|
Antiochus' victory at the Battle of Panium in 198 B.C. transferred control of Judaea from Ptolemaic Egypt to the Seleukid Kingdom. When Antiochos conquered Asia Minor, however, the Romans responded. Antiochos' losses were so great that the whole of his empire was shattered and he was forced to content himself with the region that he had held in the beginning, Syria.
GY93770. Bronze AE 18, Houghton-Lorber I 1095(2), SNG Spaer 245, HGC 9 492 (S), Newell ESM -, BMC Seleucid -, gF, brown tone, scratches, porosity, weight 7.221 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 0o, Southern Coele Syria, uncertain (Ioppe?) mint, 198 - 187 A.D.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Nike standing left, crowning king's name with wreath in extended right hand, long palm frond in left hand, BAΣIΛEΣ (king) downward on right, ANTIOXOY downward on left, controls inner left obscured by countermark; countermark: anchor with flukes up in an oval punch; From the Errett Bishop Collection.

; scarce; $90.00 SALE |PRICE| $81.00
 


Pergamene Kingdom, 282 - 263 B.C.

|Pergamene| |Kingdom|, |Pergamene| |Kingdom,| |282| |-| |263| |B.C.||AE| |13|
Philetaerus deserted Lysimachus in 282 B.C., taking control of Pergamon and a large treasure deposited there. At first nominally a Seleukid suzerainty, Pergamon grew into a strong, prosperous and independent kingdom. These bronze coins were struck in the name of the founder throughout all succeeding reigns.
GB89993. Bronze AE 13, SNG BnF 1682 ff.; SNG Tübingen 2370 ff.; SNG Cop 349; BMC Mysia p. 119, 58 ff., VF, dark patina with some copper on high points, light marks, light porosity, weight 1.812 g, maximum diameter 12.7 mm, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, c. 282 - 263 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing Macedonian helmet; reverse strung bow, ΦIΛE/TAIPOY divided in two lines above and below, countermark: anchor; $50.00 SALE |PRICE| $45.00
 







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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).
Bauslaugh, R. "Cistophoric Countermarks and the Monetary System of Eumenes II" in NC 1990.
Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Davesne, A. "Une contremarque au trident sur certaines monnaies de Ptolémée II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-sémitiques sur les monnaies grecques et proche-orientales. Glaux 13. (Milan, 1998).
Howgego, C.J. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Vol. IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Thompson, M. "A Countermarked Hoard from Büyükçekmece" in ANSMN VI (New York, 1954), pp. 11 - 34, pls. I - VII.
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).
Waggoner, N. "The Propontis Hoard" in NR XII, 1979, pp. 7 - 29, plates I - X.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

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