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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Military ▸ Nike or VictoryView Options:  |  |  |   

Nike or Victory on Ancient Coins

Victoria or Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory, personifies victory. She was described variously in different myths as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus. According to classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves. Victory or Nike is one of the most common figures on Greek and Roman coins.


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reigns in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2520.00 (€2142.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. The earliest certain cult to dea Roma was established at Smyrna in 195 B.C., probably to mark the successful alliance against Antiochus III. In 30/29 B.C., the Koinon of Asia and Bithynia requested permission to honor Augustus as a living god. "Republican" Rome despised the worship of a living man, but an outright refusal might offend their loyal allies. A cautious formula was drawn up, non-Romans could only establish a cult for divus Augustus jointly with dea Roma. In the city of Rome itself, the earliest known state cult to dea Roma was combined with Venus at the Hadrianic Temple of Venus and Roma. This was the largest temple in the city, probably dedicated to inaugurate the reformed festival of Parilia, which was known thereafter as the Romaea after the Eastern festival in Roma's honor. The temple contained the seated, Hellenised image of dea Roma with a Palladium in her right hand to symbolize Rome's eternity.
SH83947. Silver denarius, RIC I 55 (R), BMCRE I 83; RSC II 257, Hunter I 19, BnF II 224, Mac Dowall WCN 59, SRCV I 1944, Nice VF, excellent portrait, attractive toning, light bumps and scratches, areas of mild porosity, weight 3.281 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass, shields and grieve, helmeted, right leg drawn back and right foot on helmet, Victory offering wreath in her right hand, left hand on parazonium, ROMA in exergue; ex Münzen & Medaillen auction 46 (15 Feb 2018), lot 700; ex Forum (2017); $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., portrait of Alexander

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Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great's personal bodyguards, was appointed strategos (general) in Thrace and the Chersonesos after Alexander's death. He became one of the diadochi (successors of Alexander) who were initially generals and governors, but who continuously allied and warred with each other and eventually divided the empire. In 309, he founded his capital Lysimachia in a commanding situation on the neck connecting the Chersonesos with the mainland. In 306, he followed the example of Antigonus in taking the title of king, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedonia. In 281, he was killed in battle against Seleucus, another successor of Alexander.
SH82663. Silver tetradrachm, Müller 517, Thompson -, SNG Cop -, Meydancikkale -, VF, excellent portrait, sculptural high relief, well centered, light uneven toning, light bumps and marks, weight 16.984 g, maximum diameter 30.4 mm, die axis 90o, Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, 297 - 282 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena enthroned left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, Nike crowning name in right hand, rests left arm on shield, transverse spear against right side, Φ inner left under arm, AP on throne, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left; scarce; $850.00 (€722.50)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH86580. Silver didrachm, Sambon 523, HN Italy 586, SNG ANS 395 ff. var., SNG BnF 836 ff. var.; SNG Munchen 250 ff. var., SNG Cop 451 ff. var. (all var., no dolphin control), VF, attractive classical style, well centered and struck, toned, bumps and marks, edge crack, weight 7.118 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples) mint, 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring, dolphin head down (control symbol) behind; reverse man-faced bull walking right, head turned facing, being crowned by Nike flying right above, IΣ (control or magistrate initials) below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Alexandreia Troas, Troas

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RPC II notes this extremely rare type was previously attributed to Apamea in Bithynia. The issue, however, included two reverse types, this Victory type and one with Apollo Smintheus, and the cult of Apollo Smintheus was centered on the Troad. Also, an example of the Apollo type was found at Alexandria. Both types are extremely rare. These were the first coins issued by Alexandria Troas, which otherwise did not strike coins before Antoninus Pius.
RP86548. Copper semis, RPC II 896/1 (2 spec., same obv. die); Milne NC 1953, p. 23, 6 (Apamea); Rec Gén p. 252, note 4 (same); Bellinger -; BMC Troas -; SNG Cop -, aF, tight flan, light corrosion, light deposits, reverse a little off center, weight 4.930 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, obverse IMP VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory standing right, wearing long chiton, filleted wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand, D - D flanking low across field; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins, ex Sayles & Lavender (2009); extremely rare; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleucus I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH85790. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 13(1)c, Newell WSM 909, Meydancikkale 2745, HGC 3 16c (R1), VF, struck with fine style high-relief dies, light golden toning, bumps and marks, tight flan, obverse slightly off center, test punch on obverse, weight 17.040 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 300 - 281 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse ΣEΛEYKOΣ BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus Nikephoros on throne, right leg drawn back, feet on footstool, Nike offering wreath in his right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, monogram in left field before knees, ΘE under throne below strut, ΣEΛEYKOΣ downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ in exergue; rare; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Himera, Sicily, 420 - 409 B.C.

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In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
GB86306. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I p. 41, 27; SNG Cop 318, SNG Munchen 365; SNG ANS 184 var. (grasshopper control), gVF, dark patina, bumps and scratches, areas of light corrosion, earthen deposits, a little off center, weight 6.039 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 90o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 409 B.C.; obverse Pan on a goat prancing right, nude but for chlamys fluttering in the wind behind, preparing to blow on conch in right, thyrsus in left over shoulder, Corinthian helmet (control symbol) below; reverse HIMEPAION, Nike flying left, apluster with dangling fillets in extended right, fold of long chiton in left, six pellets (mark of value) left below arm; $310.00 (€263.50)
 


Judaean Kingdom, Herod Agrippa II, 55 - 95 A.D., Judaea Capta for Domitian

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A Judaea Capta issue minted by a Jewish king! Agrippa was a devout Jew and a loyal vassal of Rome. It may seem strange he would commemorate the defeat of his people but he believed the Jews could flourish under Rome and sided with Rome during the rebellion. He ruled until at least 95 A.D. but in Syria, not Judaea.
RP85809. Bronze half unit, Meshorer AJC II 37a (same dies); Sofaer 233 (same); RPC II 2279; Hendin 1285a; BMC Palestine p. 245, 46; SNG ANS 311; Meshorer TJC 165a, VF, nice green patina with highlighting red earthen deposits, obverse slightly off center, weight 8.117 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Caesarea Paneas mint, 86 - 87 A.D.; obverse ∆OMITIANOC KAICAP, laureate bust of Domitian right; reverse ETO Kς BA - AΓPIΠΠA (year 26, King Agrippa), Victory standing right, nude to waist, inscribing shield resting on left knee, ∆O on shield, left foot on crested helmet, star upper right; ex Tom Cederlind with his tag; scarce; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Galba, 3 April 68 - 15 January 69 A.D.

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The quinarius, half a denarius, was introduced along with the denarius in 211 B.C., but was only sporadically struck. Quinarii appear to have been struck mainly for special occasions, perhaps primarily for donatives, when the emperor distributed money to the people. This was the first quinarius type struck since early in the principate of Augustus.
RS86832. Silver quinarius, RIC I 132 (R2), King 1, RSC I 317, BMCRE I 244, BnF III 63, SRCV I 2112, F, bumps, marks, scratches, uneven toning, porous, obverse a little off center, weight 1.587 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 240o, Gaul, probably Lugdunum mint, Nov 68 - 15 Jan 69; obverse SER GALBA IMP CAESAR AVG P M T P, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA GALBAE AVG, Victory standing right on globe, raising wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Beast Coins; very rare; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Lot of 20 Roman Empire City of Constantinople Commemoratives Bronzes 330 - 346 A.D.

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On 11 May 330, Constantine I refounded Byzantium, renamed it Constantinopolis after himself, and moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to his new city. The new capital was Christian, old gods and traditions were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Generations later there was the story that a divine vision led Constantine to this spot. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople." Special commemorative coins were issued with types for both Rome and Constantinople to advertise the importance of the new capital.
LT85418. Bronze reduced centenionalis, SRCV IV 16444 ff. (various mints), all VF, nice coins, 330 - 346 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINOPOLIS, laureate and helmeted bust of Constantinopolis left, wearing imperial cloak, scepter over left shoulder; reverse Victory standing left, right foot on prow, scepter in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield, mintmark in exergue; one with soldiers with standard reverse, unattributed mint or issue, no flips or tags, the actual coins in the photographs, as-is, no returns; $240.00 (€204.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.
Marest-Caffey, L. "Seleukos I's Victory Coinage of Susa Revisited: A Die Study and Commentary" in AJN 28 (2016).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
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Nike or Victory