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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |History||View Options:  |  |  |   

Collecting History through Ancient Coins

Holding an ancient coin is holding history in your hands. Some coins actually depict historical events. Many include the image of a historic king or emperor. Every ancient coin relates to the people and events of the time and place it was struck. Every ancient coin relates to an interesting historical story. The stories on this page are a primary source of our ancient coin obsession. We hope you enjoy them.

The Triumvirs, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, c. Autumn 34 B.C.

|Cleopatra| |VII|, |The| |Triumvirs,| |Mark| |Antony| |and| |Cleopatra,| |c.| |Autumn| |34| |B.C.|, |tessera|
This lead seal clearly copies the portrait of Cleopatra VII as represented on the denarius type RRC 543/1 - everything from the countenance of the face, the hairstyle, and the drapery matches closely. The seal is made to a much higher standard than is usual with lead tesserae - it may have been struck from an unknown coin die - and the presence of the caduceus may relate to the cult of Isis. -- Andrew McCabe
SH95312. Lead tessera, apparently unpublished, but cf. Crawford 543/1 for a similar portrait, VF, brown patina with touches of red, weight 6.491 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, c. autumn 34 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped female bust right (Cleopatra?), winged caduceus before; reverse blank; ex CNG e-sale 458 (18 Dec 2019), lot 305; ex Andrew McCabe Collection, ex Marc de Cock (Belgium); $1000.00 SALE |PRICE| $900.00


Mariniana, Died c. 253 A.D., Wife of Valerian I

|Mariniana|, |Mariniana,| |Died| |c.| |253| |A.D.,| |Wife| |of| |Valerian| |I|, |sestertius|
Egnatia Mariniana was the wife of Emperor Valerian and mother of Gallienus. She died shortly before or shortly after her husband's accession to the throne.
RB95773. Bronze sestertius, Hunter IV 8, SRCV III 10073, RIC V-1 9 (R2) var. (peacock head right), Cohen V 7 var. (same), NGC Ch VF, 4/5 strike, 3/5 surface (4632631020), removed from plastic holder, weight 16.871 g, maximum diameter 31.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, c. 256 A.D.; obverse DIVAE MARINIANAE, draped bust right, wearing veil and stephane; reverse CONSECRATIO, peacock facing in splendor, looking left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking legs; ex Morris Collection; NGC| Lookup (NGC tag included, but no longer in plastic holder); rare; $500.00 SALE |PRICE| $450.00


Lucilla, Augusta c. 164 - 182 A.D., Wife of Lucius Verus

|Lucilla|, |Lucilla,| |Augusta| |c.| |164| |-| |182| |A.D.,| |Wife| |of| |Lucius| |Verus|, |sestertius|
For Roman wives, piety often meant accepting neglect. It was not considered adultery for a Roman husband to have sex with slaves or unmarried women. The historian Spartianus wrote that after Lucilla complained, Lucius Verus reproached her: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis" (Wife is the name of dignity, not bliss).
RB92463. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 1756, BMCRE IV 1161, Cohen III 54, Hunter II 27, SRCV II 5505, VF, nice portrait, flow lines, well centered on a squared flan, light bumps and scratches, weight 26.206 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 330o, Rome mint, 164 - 166 A.D.; obverse LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust right, hair waived and knotted in chignon low at back; reverse PIETAS, Pietas standing left, veiled, right hand extended over flaming altar at feet on left, incense box in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $450.00 SALE |PRICE| $405.00


Judaea, Bar Kochba Revolt, 134 - 135 A.D.

|Bar| |Kochba|, |Judaea,| |Bar| |Kochba| |Revolt,| |134| |-| |135| |A.D.|, |AE| |24|
Simon Bar Kochba led a rebellion against Rome from 133 -135 A.D. This Second Jewish Revolt or "Bar Kochba" uprising ended with Hadrian's destruction of Jerusalem, the founding of "Aelia Capitolina" on the site, and dispersal of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire.
JD91433. Bronze AE 24, Mildenberg 113 (O10/R77), Meshorer TJC 289; Hendin 1437, Sofaer 141, SNG ANS 566, aVF, tight flan, light corrosion, light deposits, weight 11.837 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 180o, year 3 (134 - 135 A.D.); obverse seven branched palm tree with two bunches of dates, paleo-Hebrew inscription "Shimon" divided by trunk; reverse paleo-Hebrew inscription: "for the freedom of Jerusalem", five-lobed vine-leaf, hanging from curved branch; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00


Brettian League, Bruttium, Italy, c. 214 - 211 B.C.

|Italy|, |Brettian| |League,| |Bruttium,| |Italy,| |c.| |214| |-| |211| |B.C.|, |sextans|
All coinage of the Brettii was issued during the Second Punic War when they allied with Hannibal. The Brettii joined Hannibal after his victory at Cannae. Hannibal's last base in Italy was Castra Hannibalis, in Bruttium. The ravages of war inflicted a severe blow to the prosperity of Bruttium. Roman punishment for their rebellion completed their humiliation. They lost most of their territory and the whole nation reduced to a state bordering on servitude. They were not admitted like the other nations of Italy to rank as allies but were pronounced incapable of military service, and were only employed by Rome for menial work.
GI95364. Bronze sextans, Scheu Bronze 11; SNG ANS 43; SNG Cop 1652; BMC Italy p. 326, 62 corr.; HN Italy 1975; HGC I 1361 (R1), gVF, smooth olive brown patina, well centered, light marks, minor flan flaws, weight 16.641 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, c. 214 - 211 B.C.; obverse head of Ares left, wearing crested helmet decorated with griffin leaping left, harpa below; reverse Nike sanding left, crowning trophy of captured arms with right hand, palm frond in left hand, KB monogram left, anchor with flukes up in center, BPETTIΩN downward on right; ex Pegasi Numismatics; $330.00 SALE |PRICE| $297.00


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.|, |denarius|
Julia Domna was born in Emesa (now Homs), Syria in 170 A.D. She was the youngest daughter of high-priest Julius Bassianus, a descendant of the Royal House of Emesa. Emesa was famous for its Temple of the Sun, the center of worship for the ancient pagan cult El-Gebal (or Elagabal). El-Gebal, worshiped in the form of a conical black stone, was the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God and means God of the Mountain. Emesa was also the birthplace of three other Roman empresses, Julia Maesa, Julia Mamaea and Julia Soaemias, and one emperor, Julia Domna's nephew, Elagabalus.
RS92345. Silver denarius, RIC IV S627 (S); RSC III 103; BMCRE V p. 104, 418; SRCV II 6591, F, off center, minor encrustations, edge cracks, weight 3.225 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bust right; reverse LIBERAL AVG, Liberalitas standing slightly left, polos or kalathos on head, counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; only one sale in the last two decades recorded on Coin Archives (an ex Forum coin!); rare; $270.00 SALE |PRICE| $243.00


Kingdom of Mauretania, Juba II and Cleopatra Selene, 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.

|Mauretania|, |Kingdom| |of| |Mauretania,| |Juba| |II| |and| |Cleopatra| |Selene,| |25| |B.C.| |-| |24| |A.D.|, |AE| |27|
After his father's defeat and suicide, Juba II was take to Rome and paraded in Caesar's triumph. He was then raised in Caesar's household where he and Octavian became lifelong friends. He accompanied Octavian on campaigns after Caesar's death even fighting at the battle of Actium against his future wife's parents. Cleopatra Selene was the daughter of Cleopatra VII by Marc Antony. After the battle of Actium, she was raised by Octavia, Octavian's sister. Augustus restored Juba II as the king of Numidia c. 28 B.C. and later arranged for him to marry Cleopatra Selene II giving her a large dowry and appointing her queen.
SL95881. Bronze AE 27, Alexandropoulos 209, Mazard 351 (RRR), SNG Cop 605, De Luynes 4013, NGC F, strike 4/5, surface 2/5, lt. smoothing (5872605-040), weight 18.59 g, maximum diameter 27 mm, die axis 90o, Caesarea (Cherchell, Algeria) mint, 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.; obverse REX IVBA, diademed and draped bust right, club over shoulder; reverse BACI−ΛICCA / KΛEOΠATPA, headdress of Isis, with stalks of grain, crescent above; NGC| Lookup; very rare; $250.00 SALE |PRICE| $225.00


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta,| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.|, |denarius|
Although many coin references classify Fecunditas as a personification of fertility rather than as an actual deity, Fecunditas was recognized as a Roman divinity by Nero, who erected a statue to her. Tacitus notes that upon the birth of Claudia Neronis, the senate decreed the construction of a temple of Fertility to be built at Antium. Fecunditas is always portrayed as a female figure holding a child, or children and often a scepter, cornucopia, palm branch or caduceus. Sometimes the children are depicted standing at her feet. Coins portraying her usually advertise the fertility of the imperial family.
RS89455. Silver denarius, RIC IV S534 (S); RSC III 42; BMCRE V p. 27, W46; SRCV II 6580; Hunter III -, VF/F, excellent portrait, toned, flaw on reverse, small edge cracks, weight 2.934 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 195 - 196 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, large chignon at back of head; reverse FECVNDITAS (fertility), Fecunditas seated right on throne, holding child in her arms, another child at her feet on right, standing left; very rare; $240.00 SALE |PRICE| $216.00


Belgic Celts, Bellovaci, c. 100 - 57 B.C.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Belgic| |Celts,| |Bellovaci,| |c.| |100| |-| |57| |B.C.|, |AE| |16|
The Bellovaci, among the most powerful and numerous of the Belgian tribes of north-eastern Gaul, were conquered by Julius Caesar in 57 B.C. The name survives today in the French city of Beauvais, called by the Romans Caesaromagus. The Bellovaci territory extended from modern Beauvais to the Oise River, along the coast. When Caesar learned the Bellovaci intended to conquer the territory of their Suessiones neighbors, he decided to oppose them and prove Roman superiority. The Bellovaci were surprised by the arrival of Roman troops but, despite his force of about 30,000 men, Caesar was intimidated by the size of the Bellovaci forces. Neither initiated battle. The Belgic warriors set traps in the woods for Roman foragers. Caesar called for reinforcements and built a bridge across a marsh to position his troops within range of the Bellovaci camp. The Bellovaci retreated and then attempted an ambush. Caesar learned of their plan and had reinforcements ready to attack, but the Bellovaci were defeated and their general Correus killed, even before he arrived. After the battle, the Bellovaci were impressed by Caesar's clemency but some of their leaders fled to Britain. Belgae_Map
CE92095. Bronze AE 16, cf. Delestre-Tache I 307, CCCBM III 1, Scheers Trait 601, De la Tour 7276, VF, attractive olive green patina, obverse off center, weight 2.676 g, maximum diameter 15.8 mm, die axis 270o, c. 100 - 57 B.C.; obverse figure running right, ornaments around; reverse human-headed horse galloping right, one large globule above and another below; ex CGB Numismatique Paris; rare; $230.00 SALE |PRICE| $207.00


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.|, |sestertius|
Vesta was originally a household spirit. Later she was personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta, her sacred flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins. In 394, by order of the Christian emperor Theodosius I in his campaign to eliminate pagan practices in Rome, the fire of Vesta was extinguished.
RB91372. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE IV p. 123, 492; RIC IV p. 207, 843 (R); Hunter III 42; Cohen IV 222; SRCV II 6632, VF, well centered, porous, corrosion, rough areas, weight 23.018 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 193 - 196 A.D.; obverse IVLIA DOMNA AVG, draped bare-headed bust right, hair in waved horizontal ridges; reverse VESTA, Vest seated left on throne, palladium in right hand, long scepter transverse in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) divided low across field; from a New England dealer; rare; $180.00 SALE |PRICE| $162.00




  



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