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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 Lead tessera, apparently unpublished, but cf.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); $800.00 (736.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, 51 - 30 B.C.

|Cleopatra| |VII|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Cleopatra| |VII| |Thea| |Philopator,| |51| |-| |30| |B.C.||hemiobol|
Cleopatra VII originally shared power with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brother-husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Her relationship with Julius Caesar led to sole rule. After Caesar's assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony. Her reign marks the end of the Hellenistic Era and the beginning of the Roman Era. She was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
SL96992. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 1872; Weiser 184; SNG Cop 422; BMC Alexandria p. 123, 5; Noeske 383; Sear CRI 949, NGC VF, surface 4/5, strike 2/5, scratches, smoothing (5771373-003), weight 8.880 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 51 - 30 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust of Cleopatra right, characteristic melon coif; reverse KΛEOΠATPAΣ BACIΛICCHC (Queen Cleopatra), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, head left, cornucopia left, M (40 drachms = hemiobol) right; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 66 (9 Jan 2020), lot 608; NGC| Lookup; $750.00 (690.00)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

|Julia| |Mamaea|, |Julia| |Mamaea,| |Augusta| |13| |March| |222| |-| |February| |or| |March| |235| |A.D.||denarius|
Describing this coin "as-found" does not mean recently found. This coin, part of a family collection assembled over generations, was found long ago. Silver denarii sold as found with their natural dark toning are rare. Very often the toning is uneven and unattractive and the coins are cleaned to remove it. This coin and others from the find were clearly an exception and its attractive toning has been left intact for decades and should never be removed.
RS94695. Silver denarius, RIC IV 358, RSC III 76, BMCRE VI 713, Hunter III 5, SRCV II 8216, Choice EF, very attractive as-found dark hoard toning, well centered, attractive portrait, small edge splits, weight 1.854 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 231 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in waved horizontal ridges, looped plait at back of neck; reverse VENVS VICTRIX (victorious Venus), Venus standing half left, head left, helmet extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield on left at feet against far side; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $400.00 (368.00)


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

|Julia| |Domna|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||denarius|
This type is not listed in the major references because, when they were published it was not yet recognized the type was also struck at Alexandria. All the Alexandria mint specimens, distinguished from other specimens only by their style, were confused with the similar denarii struck at Rome. Roger Bickford-Smith identifies this style as struck at Alexandria. He dates this reverse type to the first months of 195 A.D. and notes this obverse legend, IVLIA DOMNA AVG was used only briefly before it was replaced with IVLIA AVGVSTA.
RS96910. Silver denarius, Bickford-Smith p. 56 & pl. 1, 10; RIC IV -; BMCRE V -; RSC III -; Reka Devnia -, VF, toned, flow lines, small edge cracks, legends weak, weight 2.680 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria mint, c. Feb 195 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; reverse VENVS FELIX (Venus who brings good fortune), Venus standing half-left, apple in extended right hand, drawing drapery from shoulder with left hand; rare; $280.00 (257.60)


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; $240.00 (220.80)


Otacilia Severa, Augusta, February or March 244 - September or October 249 A.D., Pella, Macedonia

|Pella|, |Otacilia| |Severa,| |Augusta,| |February| |or| |March| |244| |-| |September| |or| |October| |249| |A.D.,| |Pella,| |Macedonia||pentassarion|NEW
Pella is an ancient city located in Central Macedonia, Greece, best known as the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great.
RP93126. Bronze pentassarion, RPC Online VIII U68748 (4 spec.), Moushmov 6494, Varbanov III 3764 var. (obv. legend, R5), SNG ANS -, BMC Macedonia -, gVF, striking bold portrait, brown patina, small deposits, light marks, central dimple on reverse including circular lathe marks, weight 9.489 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 90o, Pella mint, Feb/Mar 244 - Sep/Oct 249 A.D.; obverse M OTACIIL SEVERA EY (Y upside down), draped, bust right, wearing stephane; reverse COL IVL AVS PELLA, Fortuna seated on ornamented chair left, holding hand to mouth, left arm resting on back of chair; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $240.00 (220.80)


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; $216.00 (198.72)


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Kition, Cyprus

|Cyprus|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Kition,| |Cyprus||unit|
The "arrow" on this coin is very unusual. The description of Price 3119 includes a KT monogram but followed by (?). The monogram is missing from all examples known to Forum. We suspect the KT monogram does not exist on any Alexander bronze from Kition.
GB95811. Bronze unit, cf. Tziambazis 6, Price 3119, Bank of Cyprus --, gVF, nice green patina with buff earthen highlighting, light marks, porosity, tight flan, weight 4.731 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 225o, Kition (Larnaca, Cyprus) mint, 336 - 323 B.C. (perhaps later); obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse club right above, AΛEΞAN∆POY across center, open-mouth quiver, arrow(?) and bow below; $200.00 (184.00)


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; $200.00 (184.00)


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

|Countermarked|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |II| |Philadelphos,| |285| |-| |246| |B.C.||tritartemorion|
 
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; $190.00 (174.80)




  



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