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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); $670.00 (€549.40)
 


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Fall 48 - Spring 47 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

|Antioch|, |Antioch,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Syria,| |Fall| |48| |-| |Spring| |47| |B.C.,| |Cleopatra| |Countermark||AE| |24|
From McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch, p. 74, note 25: "The coins of this year (Pompeian Era 19 = 48/7 BC) and of Year 3 of the Caesarean Era are frequently seen with a countermark on the obverse, which was previously described as "head of Apollo r." in an oval. As discussed in the text, it now seems likely that the countermark portrays Cleopatra, and was used to mark coins circulating in the Syro-Phoenician territories, which were given to her by Mark Antony."
RP98209. Bronze AE 24, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; Cohen DCA 384; HGC 9 1366; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, gF, dark brown patina with highlighting red earthen deposits, tight flan, obverse a little off center, flattened opposite of countermark, weight 11.987 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, fall 48 - spring 47 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra right in an incuse oval; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛEΩΣ, Zeus Nicephorus enthroned left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs, Nike offering wreath in his extended right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, fulmen (thunderbolt) above, cornucopia (control symbol) inner left, IΘ (Pompeian Era year 19) below, all within laurel wreath; $140.00 (€114.80)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Augusta, Cilicia

|Cilicia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Augusta,| |Cilicia||AE| |29|
Augusta, Cilicia was founded in 20 A.D., and named for Livia (Julia Augusta). Just over 16 km north of Adana in a loop of the river Seyhan (Sarus), and at the west end of a narrow plain bounded to the north and south by low hills. Represented at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the city probably did not long survive the Moslem invasion of Cilicia in the 7th century. The site, discovered by chance in 1955, was identified by ancient literary sources and from finds there, and in the neighboring village of Gübe, of Roman provincial coins naming the city. Later that same year Gübe, and with it the ruins of Augusta, disappeared below the waters of the Seyhan dam, but not before the site had been partially surveyed. Two colonnaded streets crossed each other at right angles typical of Roman towns in Cilicia. The foundations of a triumphal arch, a theater, a civic basilica, some shops, a bath building, were mapped. These structures were all of brick and mortar, and probably dated to the 3rd century.
RP97260. Bronze AE 29, Karbach Augusta 124.7; BMC Lycaonia p. 46, 15; Mionnet III p. 568, 15; SNGvA 5538; SNG BnF 1911; Waddington 419, aVF, tight flan, some porosity, some encrustation, weight 19.044 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, Cilicia, Augusta (under Seyhan Dam Reservoir) mint, 253 - 254 A.D.; obverse AV KAI ΠOV ΛIK OVAΛEPIANO CB (sic!), radiate and cuirassed bust of Valerian right, gorgoneon on breastplate, countermark: V; reverse AVΓOVCTAN-ΩN E ∆ΛC (Augusta, year 234), Athena standing facing, looking left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, resting right hand on grounded shield, vertical spear in left hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 83 (3 Nov 2019), part of lot 980; $110.00 (€90.20)
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, Second Punic War, 211 - 206 B.C.

|211-100| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Anonymous,| |Second| |Punic| |War,| |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; $100.00 (€82.00)
 


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; $90.00 (€73.80)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

|Antioch|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.,| |Antioch,| |Seleucis| |and| |Pieria,| |Syria||AE| |28|
The obverse legend abbreviates AYTOKPATΩP KAICAP ΘEOY TPAIANOY ΠAPQIKOY YIOC ΘEOY NEPOYA YIΩNOC TRAIANOC A∆PIANOC CEBACTOC - The Emperor Caesar, son of the divine Trajan Parthicus, grandson of the divine Nerva, Hadrian Augustus.

The countermark with laurel-branch with four leaves in a rectangular punch, 4.5 x 6 mm, is Howgego 378 (69 pcs). The countermark was applied before 132 - 135 A.D.
RY93148. Bronze AE 28, McAlee 536b (scarce); RPC Online III 3694 (13 specs.); BMC Galatia p. 186, 299; SNG Fitz 5890; Butcher 231; c/m: Howgego 378, F, oval flan, clear countermark, legend weak/off flan, rev. flattened opposite c/m, green and red encrustations, weight 14.595 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 11 Aug 117 - c. 132 A.D.; obverse AVT KAIC Θ TP Π YI Θ NEP YIW TP A∆PIANOC CEBAC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; countermark: laurel branch with four leaves within rectangular incuse punch; reverse S C (senatus consulto), Γ∆ below, all within laurel wreath; from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; $80.00 (€65.60)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Petra, Arabia

|Roman| |Arabia|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Petra,| |Arabia||AE| |23|
UNESCO describes Petra as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." The BBC selected Petra as one of "the 40 places you have to see before you die." Click here to see Petra at BiblePlaces.com.
RY94941. Bronze AE 23, cf. Spijkerman 29; BMC Arabia, p. 36, 15; SNG ANS -; c/m: Howgego 801, aF, green patina with orange earthen highlights, weight 7.171 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 180o, Petra (Jordan) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AY K Λ CEΠT CEOYHPOΣ ΠEP CEB (or similar), laureate bust right, from behind, countermark: D• in round punch; reverse A∆P • ΠETPA MHTPOΠOΛ..., Tyche seated left on rock, right hand extended and open, trophy over shoulder in left hand; from the Ray Nouri Collection; scarce; $36.00 (€29.52)
 







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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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