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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.


Thebes, Boiotia, Greece, 425 - 395 B.C.

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The largest city in Boeotia, leader of the Boeotian confederacy, and rival of Athens, Thebes sided with Persia during Xerxes' invasion in 480 B.C. Thebes ended Sparta's power at the Battle of Leuctra in 371. The Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell to Philip II at Chaeronea in 338. After a revolt in 335, Alexander the Great destroyed the city, except, according to tradition, the house of the poet Pindar.
SH69940. Silver stater, BCD Boiotia 437 - 438, SNG Cop 284, BMC Central p. 74, 58, Winterthur 1906; see CNG Sale 63, lot 316 for a similar countermark on an archaic stater, gVF, toned, porosity, weight 11.674 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Thebes mint, 425 - 395 B.C.; obverse Boiotian shield, countermark: ivy leaf in round punch; reverse Θ−E, bearded head of Dionysos right, wreathed in ivy; ex Heritage Auctions, auction 3031, lot 27032; SOLD


Lampsacus (as Colonia Gemella Iulia Lampsacus), Mysia, c. 45 - 35 B.C.

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M. Grant (Grant FITA, p. 246) first and convincingly attributed this type to Lampsacus. P. Brunt (Italian Manpower, p. 600) argues convincingly that the colony was founded by Julius Caesar about 45 B.C. and disappeared after its occupation by Sextus Pompey in 35 B.C. Marcus Turius was the legate (governor) of Asia, 42 - 40 B.C. The countermark is listed in RPC I on other issues of the colony.
RP85355. Bronze as, RPC I 2272 (2 specimens), Grant FITA 246(4), SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -; Countermark: Howgego -, F, a little rough with some smoothing, only three specimens known to Forum, weight 4.044 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 45o, Lampsacus mint, 42 - 40 B.C.; obverse head of Janus, C G - I L (Colonia Gemella Iulia Lampsacus) divided across field, countermark: cornucopia, C - C flanking at sides, within a roughly square punch; reverse galley prow right, Q LVCRETI / L PONTI IIVIR (duumvirs) above, M TVRIO LEG (Marcus Turius, legate) below; extremely rare; SOLD


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

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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."
CM25063. Bronze tetrachalkon, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; Cohen DCA 384; HGC 9 1366; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, VF/F, countermark VF, weight 14.149 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, Autumn 48 - Autumn 47 B.C.; c/m: c. 36 - 30 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra right in an incuse oval; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, 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; SOLD


Aspendos, Pamphylia, 370 - 333 B.C.

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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.
SH49939. Silver stater, SNG Cop 231, SNGvA 4561, SNG Berry 1224, VF, typical 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 EΣTΦE∆IIYΣ on left, slinger, wearing short chiton, discharging sling to right, triskeles on right with feet clockwise; countermark below; rainbow toning; SOLD


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

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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 München -, SNG Tüb -, 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, KNI∆IΩN downward on right; one of only two known, the other without the countermark!; SOLD


Aegina, Saronic Islands, Greece, c. 510 - 490 B.C.

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The turtle coin type is considered a "must have" by many ancient coin collectors because Aegina was probably the first place in Europe to issue coinage.


Click here to read about Greek Turtles.
SH79679. Silver stater, SNG Delepierre 1670, Dewing 1657, SNG Cop 503, SGCV I 1849 (none with this countermark), VF, obverse well centered on a tight flan, edge bump, light marks and lightly etched surfaces, weight 11.390 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, Aigina mint, c. 510 - 490 B.C.; obverse sea turtle, straight raised collar and row of dots down the middle of the shell, countermark: head (female?) right; reverse incuse square of "Union Jack" pattern; SOLD


Side, Pamphylia, c. 220 - 190 B.C., Sardes Lydia Cistophoric Countermark

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Interesting countermark applied c. 180 B.C. with the introduction of the Cistophoric coinage. On our coin the countermark reads ΣAP (Sardes, Lydia). Other cities that applied similar countermarks to Attic weight coins are Apamea, Ephesos, Laodikea, Pergamon and Tralles.
SH30033. Silver tetradrachm, SNGvA 4794; c/m: see Bauslaugh Countermarks, aVF, c/m aEF, weight 16.480 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 0o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, obverse head of Athena right in a crested Corinthian helmet, round countermark of bow in case and ΣAP legend on left; reverse Nike advancing left, wreath extended in right, pomegranate in left field, ΣTH monogram below (magistrate's name); SOLD


Phaselis, Lycia, 213 - 212 B.C., Civic Issue in the Name of Alexander the Great, with Seleukid Countermark

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Phaselis was under Ptolemaic control from 209 to 197 B.C. Antiochus III took control in 197 and formally took possession of the Egyptian territories in Anatolia through the Peace of Lysimachia in 195. Despite the vicissitudes of the area, Phaselis seems to have retained significant autonomy and struck Alexander type tetradrachms with remarkable continuity from 218 - 185 B.C. The series ended shortly after the conclusion of the Apamea treaty, when Phaselis and the other cities of Lycia were handed over to the Kingdom of Rhodes. From 190 to 160 B.C. it remained under Rhodeian hegemony. After 160 B.C. Phaselis was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman rule. In the 1st century B.C., the city was taken over by the pirate Zekenites for a period until his defeat by the Romans.
SH71158. Silver tetradrachm, Price 2840, Mektepini Hoard 495, Cohen DCA 315, Müller Alexander -, VF, broad flan, attractive dark toning worn from high-points, slight double strike, weight 16.651 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, die axis 0o, Lycia, Phaselis (near Tekirova, Turkey) mint, 213 - 212 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; Seleukid countermark: anchor in an oval punch; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand C (year 6) over Φ left; countermark: Seleukid anchor in rounded rectangular incuse; scarce; SOLD


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, c. 47 - 45 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

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McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch, p. 74, note 25 says tetrachalkoi of this time, "...are frequently seen with a countermark on the obverse which was previously described as 'head of Apollo r. in an oval...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."
SH70086. Bronze tetrachalkon, cf. McAlee 46 - 50, Butcher 15 - 17, RPC I 4219 - 4221, HGC 9 1367, DCA 392; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25; Butcher 18, VF/F, reverse flattened from countermarking and scratched, Choice countermark, weight 12.285 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 47 - 45 B.C.; countermark: c. 36 - 30 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, headdress of Isis(?) inner left, uncertain Pompeian Era date below, all within laurel wreath; ex CNG e-auction 321, lot 171; SOLD


Side, Pamphylia, c. 220 - 190 B.C., Apamea, Phrygia Countermark

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Interesting countermark applied c. 180 B.C. with the introduction of the Cistophoric coinage. On our coin the countermark reads APA (Apamea, Phrygia). Other cities that applied similar countermarks to Attic weight coins are Ephesos, Laodikea, Pergamon, Sardes and Tralles.
SH29561. Silver tetradrachm, SNGvA 4790; c/m: see Bauslaugh Countermarks, aVF, weight 16.026 g, maximum diameter 29.9 mm, die axis 0o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, c. 220 - 190 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right in a crested Corinthian helmet, round countermark of bow in case and A−ΠA legend on left; reverse Nike advancing left, wreath extended in right, pomegranate in left field, ∆IO below (magistrate's name); 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 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.
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).

Catalog current as of Saturday, August 17, 2019.
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Greek Countermarked