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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.


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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Laetitia is the Roman goddess of gaiety and joy, her name deriving from the root word laeta, meaning happy. She is typically depicted on coinage with a wreath in her right hand, and a scepter, a rudder, or an anchor in her left hand. On the coins of empresses, Laetitia may signal a birth in the Imperial family.
SH93043. Gold aureus, Calicó 2066 (same rev. die); RIC III MA699; BMCRE IV MA129 note; Cohen III 146; SRCV II 5242; Hunter II -, gVF, light marks on edge, weight 6.763 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 161 - 175 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right, hair in bun at the back; reverse LAETITIA, Laetitia standing facing, wreath in right hand, long scepter in left; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 80 (04 Aug 2019), lot 563; ex Roma Numismatics 14 (27 Jan 2019), lot 761; Numismatica Ars Classica auction 106 (09 May 2018), lot 973; ex Roma Numismatics sale XIV (21 Sep 2017), 761 (realized £4,600 plus fees); extremely rare; $5200.00 (€4576.00)


Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

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The obverse legend abbreviates Consul Designatus, Iterum et Tertium, meaning Consul Elect for the second and third time. The reverse legend abbreviates Triumvir Reipublicae Constituendae, the title adopted in November of 43 B.C. by the three Caesarian leaders (Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus) when they formed the Second Triumvirate to oppose the tyrannicides Brutus and Cassius.
SH86609. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2202, Sydenham 1198, Crawford 263, RSC Octavia and M. Antony 3, Sear CRI 263, BMCRR East 135, SRCV I 1513, Choice gVF, toned, well centered, some die wear and rust, scratches, weight 11.723 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, summer - autumn 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT (Consul Elect for the 2nd and 3rd time), conjoined head of Antony and bust of Octavia right, Antony nearer and wreathed in ivy, Octavia draped; reverse Dionysus standing half left on cista mystica, in his right hand, thyrsus in his left hand, flanked by two interlaced snakes with heads erect, III VIR (triumvir) downward on left, R P C (Reipublicae Constituendae) upward on right; $2160.00 (€1900.80)


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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Thompson notes that Pyrrhus held Pella until 286 B.C. It was one of the last, if not the last, mint opened by Lysimachos. Twenty-six obverse dies are known for the tetradrachms.
SH93849. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 248, HGC 3.2 1750p (S), Müller 353 var. (monogram in ex.), VF, superb high relief portrait, light toning with some darker spots, bumps and marks, weight 16.645 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 180o, Pella mint, 286 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in her right hand, resting left arm on grounded round shield behind, transverse spear against right side, HP monogram outer left, monogram inner left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left; ex Divus Numismatik; scarce; $750.00 (€660.00)


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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Thompson notes that Lampsacus was Lysimachos largest mint in Asia Minor, with approximately 150 known obverse dies. Output from Lampsacus declined when Amphipolis began its extensive coinage c. 288 B.C.
SH93850. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 47, Müller 401, SNG BnF 2540, HGC 3.2 1750b, VF, spectacular high relief portrait, light tone, well centered, bumps and scratches, porosity, weight 16.739 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 0o, Mysia, Lampsakos (Lapseki, Turkey) mint, 297 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in her right hand, resting left arm on grounded round shield behind, transverse spear against right side, HP monogram inner left, crescent with horns left in exergue, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left; ex Divus Numismatik; $650.00 (€572.00)


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

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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; $500.00 (€440.00)


Plotina, Augusta 105 - 129 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
SH79967. Bronze AE 24, RPC Online III 645, SNG Evelpidis 1170, Lindgren 980, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, BMC Macedonia -, Varbanov -, F, green patina, pitting, weight 9.487 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 105 - 129 A.D.; obverse CEBACTH ΠΛWTEINA, draped bust right; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left, patera in right hand; very rare; $320.00 (€281.60)


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

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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; $270.00 (€237.60)


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

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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. Delestrée-Tache I 307, CCCBM III 1, Scheers Traité 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 (€202.40)


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

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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; $200.00 (€176.00)


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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Faustina II was the daughter, wife, and mother of emperors and empresses. When she gave birth to the first of many children she was given the title of Augusta, which for a time made her superior in rank to her husband. She was a devoted wife and mother and accompanied her husband on all his military campaigns.
RB93046. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III MA1703, BMCRE IV MA1573, Cohen III 72, SRCV II 5228, VF, well centered, red-brown patina, porosity, light corrosion, weight 14.832 g, maximum diameter 29.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Marcus Aurelius, 176 - 177 A.D.; obverse DIVA FAVSTINA PIA, draped bust of Faustina the Younger right, hair elaborately waved in nearly vertical lines and fastened in a low chignon at back of head, down cheek, curls; reverse CONSECRATIO, peacock standing slightly, head left, tail spread in splendor, S - C flanking low across field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; $180.00 (€158.40)




  



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