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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.

Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 27 B.C.

|Cilicia|, |Tarsos,| |Cilicia,| |c.| |164| |-| |27| |B.C.||AE| |20|
In ancient Greek mythology, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city. She wears a mural crown (a crown that resembles the walls of the city).
GB110118. Bronze AE 20, cf. SNG Levante 918 ff.; SNG BnF 1285 ff.; SNG Cop 326 f.; SNGvA 5973; BMC Lycaonia p. 181, 115 (various controls), aF, green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, c/m: VF, weight 5.513 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 164 - 27 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right, hair rolled, two strands with loose curls down back of neck, monogram (control) behind; countermark: bow in bowcase in a rectangular punch; reverse Zeus seated left on throne with high back, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, long scepter topped with an eagle in right hand, TAPΣEΩN downward on left, two monograms (controls) on right; $80.00 (73.60)


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 37 B.C.

|Cilicia|, |Tarsos,| |Cilicia,| |c.| |164| |-| |37| |B.C.||AE| |21|
Sandan was a Hittite-Babylonian sun, storm, or warrior god, also perhaps associated with agriculture. The Greeks equated Sandan with Herakles (Hercules). At Tarsus an annual festival honored Sandan-Herakles, which climaxed when, as depicted on this coin, an image of the god was burned on a funeral pyre.
RP99547. Bronze AE 21, SNG BnF 1334 (same rev. die, same c/m); SNG Levante 952 (same c/m); BMC Lycaonia p. 180, 106 ff. var. (controls); SNG Cop 333 ff. var. (same), F, green patina, earthen deposits, edge split, reverse edge beveled, weight 5.905 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 164 - 37 B.C.; obverse veiled and turreted head of Tyche right; countermark: radiate head of Helios within oval punch; reverse Sandan cult image standing right on horned and winged animal, on a garlanded base and within a pyramidal pyre surmounted by a winged animal, TAPΣEΩN downward on right, AP / AP / DI / Θ (controls) left; $70.00 (64.40)


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 Atophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞANΔPOY downward on right; NGC| Lookup; very rare countermark; SOLD


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

|Greek| |Countermarked|, |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.
CM89991. Bronze AE 19, SNG Cop 96 (same countermarks); cf. BMC Troas p. 12, 29 ff.; SNG Munchen 92 f.; SNGvA 1461, coin: obverse mostly obscured by countermarks, reverse flattened by countermarking; countermarks: mostly VF, weight 5.358 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo facing (only upper left side of face and left eye visible); c/m: 1) lyre in 7mm round punch, 2) female head right within 7mm round punch, 3) uncertain (mouse?); reverse lyre, AΛEΞAN (or similar) around, all within laurel wreath; c/m: horse head right; SOLD


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 (Serik, Turkey) 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, EΣTΦEΔIIYΣ upward on left, countermark lower right: lion head right in a round 3.6mm punch; ex Forum (2011); SOLD


Knidos, Caria, c. 100 - 40 B.C.

|Knidos|, |Knidos,| |Caria,| |c.| |100| |-| |40| |B.C.||AE| |32|
This type struck by this magistrate appears to be unpublished and we do not know another example. The referenced similar type struck under the magistrate Apollonios is also extremely rare with only a few known examples. Similar countermarks are known on coins from Chalkis, Laodicea, Antioch, Selucia, and Damascus, cities under the control of Cleopatra. We believe it is her portrait. Cleopatra and Marc Antony spent considerable romantic time together around Knidos. It is said that Marc Antony sent ships to the Nile to retrieve sand for a beach, which is known today as Cleopatra's Beach.
RP76800. Bronze AE 32, Apparently unpublished; cf. Mabbott 1715 (magistrate), RPC I suppl. 5436 (same); SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Munchen -, SNG Tb -, SNG Keckman -, aF, porous, scratches, corrosion, weight 18.277 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Knidos (near Tekir, Turkey) mint, c. 100 - 40 B.C.; countermark: c. 36 - 30 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed bust of Demeter right, poppy before her (covered by countermark), oval countermark: female head (Cleopatra VII?) right; reverse Nike advancing left, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand, MOΣXΩN (magistrate's name) downward on left, KNIΔIΩN downward on right; one of only two known, the other without the countermark!; SOLD


Perga, Pamphylia, Seleukid Empire, 206 - 205 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

|Perga|, |Perga,| |Pamphylia,| |Seleukid| |Empire,| |206| |-| |205| |B.C.,| |In| |the| |Name| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great||tetradrachm|
In 333 BC, the citizens of Perga, long under the rule of Persia, welcomed their liberator Alexander the Great and his army into the city. When this coin was struck Perga was under Seleukid rule but retained the independence to strike coinage. This example is countermarked with a Seleukid anchor. Perga is notable as the home of the renowned mathematician Apollonius of Perga, who is believed to have lived at the time this coin was struck.
SH59443. Silver tetradrachm, Price 2928, Mller Alexander 1233, Cohen DCA 314, F, weight 15.903 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, die axis 0o, Perga (near Antalya, Turkey) mint, 206 - 205 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; Seleukid countermark: anchor within a rectangular punch; reverse AΛΕΞANΔPOY, Zeus enthroned left, right leg drawn back, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, IC (year 16 of the Era of Perga) left; SOLD


Perga, Pamphylia, Seleukid Empire, 196 - 195 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

|Perga|, |Perga,| |Pamphylia,| |Seleukid| |Empire,| |196| |-| |195| |B.C.,| |In| |the| |Name| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great||tetradrachm|
In 333 BC, the citizens of Perga, long under the rule of Persia, welcomed their liberator Alexander the Great and his army into the city. When this coin was struck Perga was under Seleukid rule but retained the independence to strike coinage. This example is countermarked with a Seleukid anchor. Perga is notable as the home of the renowned mathematician Apollonius of Perga, who is believed to have lived at the time this coin was struck.
SH56725. Silver tetradrachm, Price 2940, Mller Alexander 1242, Cohen DCA 312, F, countermark, weight 16.449 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Perga (near Antalya, Turkey) mint, 196 - 195 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse AΛΕΞANΔPOY, Zeus Atophoros enthroned left, eagle extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, K[ (year 26 of the Era of Perga) to left, countermark: Seleukid anchor within a rectangular punch; SOLD


Kallatis, Moesia Inferior, 3rd - 2nd Century B.C.

|Kallatis|, |Kallatis,| |Moesia| |Inferior,| |3rd| |-| |2nd| |Century| |B.C.||AE| |24|
Apollo's most important attribute is the tripod lebes, a cauldron in a three-legged stand used for religious rituals. The tripod lebes is symbolic of his prophetic powers. At his temple at Delphi, his priestess sat on his tripod chewing laurel leaves and inhaling hallucinating vapors from a fissure in the floor. After she mumbled her prophesy, a male priest would translate it for the supplicant.
GB99660. Bronze AE 24, AMNG I/I 230, SNG Stancomb 69 ff. var. (magistrate), SNG BM 214 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, VF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, closed flan crack, scratches, scattered slight porosity, obverse edge beveled, weight 8.841 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 0o, Kallatis (Mangalia, Romania) mint, 3rd - 2nd century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; countermark: six-rayed pellet-star; reverse tripod lebes, stalk of grain outer left, KAΛΛA-TIANΩN in two downward lines, the first on the right, EΠIXA (magistrate) below; ex Classical Numismatic Group, ex Richard Baker collection; SOLD


Kallatis, Moesia Inferior, 3rd - 2nd Century B.C.

|Kallatis|, |Kallatis,| |Moesia| |Inferior,| |3rd| |-| |2nd| |Century| |B.C.||AE| |26|
Apollo's most important attribute is the tripod lebes, a cauldron in a three-legged stand used for religious rituals. The tripod lebes is symbolic of his prophetic powers. At his temple at Delphi, his priestess sat on his tripod chewing laurel leaves and inhaling hallucinating vapors from a fissure in the floor. After she mumbled her prophesy, a male priest would translate it for the supplicant.
GB76836. Bronze AE 26, cf. AMNG I/I 230 ff. (various magistrates), SNG Stancomb 69 ff. (same), SNG BM 214 var. (same), SNG Cop -, VF, bold countermarks, attractive turquoise patina, edge crack, weight 12.204 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Kallatis (Mangalia, Romania) mint, 3rd - 2nd century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, countermarks: veiled(?) head right in round punch; head of Hermes(?) in round punch; reverse KAΛΛA/TIANΩN, tripod, stalk of grain far left, magistrate name or monogram below; scarce; SOLD







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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 Ptolme II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-smitiques 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 contremarques en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Thompson, M. "A Countermarked Hoard from Bykekmece" 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 Provinzialprgungen der rmischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

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