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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Quality| ▸ |High Grade||View Options:  |  |  |   

High Grade Ancient Coins

When first introduced to ancient coins, most people are shocked to learn that some coins remain in mint state and even more surprised to learn that they are not all in musuems. Ancient people did not have stocks, bonds mutual funds, or bank accounts. The primary implement for holding wealth was coins, often buried, and often buried in uncirculated or mint state condition. If an owner died without recovering their coins or telling an heir where to find them, they were lost. Millions of ancient coins have been recovered, and thousands have been found in superb condition.

Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D.

|Caligula|, |Caligula,| |16| |March| |37| |-| |24| |January| |41| |A.D.||sestertius|
The lack of the usual S C (senatus consulto) suggests that the issue was funded and struck by the Emperor, rather than the Senate. Suetonius wrote (Gaius Caligula 53), "He was as eloquent and witty as you would want, especially when he could launch an attack on someone. Words and phrases used to find him whenever he was angry—his articulation and voice too rose up so that it was impossible for him to stay in the same place thanks to excitement and he was heard well by people standing far away. When he was about to give a speech, he used to threaten to unsheathe the tool of his nocturnal strains, and he despised work composed smoothly and with style so much that he used to say that Seneca wrote 'only school-essays' and was 'sand without lime'."
SH98642. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 32 (S), BMCRE I 33, BnF II 45, Cohen I 1, Hunter I 14, SRCV I -, Choice VF, attractive portrait, near black patina, areas of slight porosity, weight 28.989 g, maximum diameter 35.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse ADLOCVT above, COH in exergue (adlocutio cohortium - speech to the cohorts), Caligula standing left on platform, bare-headed, togate, extending right hand in gesture of address, sella castrensis (folding iron field chair) behind, addressing five praetorians standing right, each wearing helmet, parazonium at side, holding shield, the foremost soldier stands alone, the four others stand in two files and each holds an aquila; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 65 (19 Dec 2019), lot 718; ex inventory of a UK dealer; scarce; $4500.00 (€3690.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Ephesos, Ionia

|Ephesos|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.,| |Ephesos,| |Ionia||AE| |36|
See this type online:
RPC Online VI
Asia Minor Coins
ANS Mantis (No photo on ANS, but photo of this specimen is available on RPC Online.)
SH87621. Bronze AE 36, Karwiese MvE 5.2 p. 164, 750b (O3/R3, only 1 spec. of this variety); RPC Online VI T4956 (5 spec.); ANS Mantis 1972.185.5, Choice EF, excellent centering, olive green patina, some legend weak, small flaw/punch on reverse, porous, weight 25.344 g, maximum diameter 36.3 mm, die axis 180o, Ephesos mint, obverse AYT K M AYP CEB AΛEΞAN∆POC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse M-ONΩN - ΠPΩTΩN - ACIAC, on left: cult statue of Artemis standing facing, wearing ornate kalathos, flanked on each side by a stag, arms with supports; on right: Demeter enthroned left, wreathed in grain, two stalks of grain in right hand, long torch vertical in left hand; EΦECIΩN in exergue; only the second known of this variety with stags flanking Artemis, fantastic HUGE 36mm provincial bronze!; $2100.00 (€1722.00)
 


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

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.||sestertius|
A decursio was a military exercise, by which Roman soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They sometimes consisted of a mock fight between two divisions. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. Decursio on this coin probably refers Nero's participation in mock military maneuvers in the circus.
SH96390. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 508, Mac Dowall WCN 448, BMCRE I 316, BnF II 135, Cohen I 88, SRCV I -, Choice aEF/VF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, scratches, marks, porosity more on the reverse, weight 23.971 g, maximum diameter 35.4 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 66 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PONT MAX TR POT P P, laureate head left, small globe at point; reverse DECVRSIO (in exergue), Nero and a companion on horseback prancing right, Nero holds spear in right hand, companion holds vexillum in right over shoulder, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $1860.00 (€1525.20)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

|Septimius| |Severus|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.||sestertius|
The central figure is described in RIC IV as Pietas or Concordia. Others have identified the figure as uncertain or even as Julia Domna or Julia Domna as Pietas. On some of the coins, however, it is clearly Septimius Severus with the same three pointed beard seen on the obverse of this coin.
SH98649. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE V p. 394, 190; RIC IV 798 (R2); SRCV 6432; Cohen IV 560; Hunter V 165, Choice gVF, excellent centering, nice portrait, near black fields with some brassy high points, weight 25.165 g, maximum diameter 33.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 210 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEVE-RVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XVIII COS III P P (Pontifex Maximus, TRibunicia Potestate XVII, Consul III, Pater Patriae), Geta, on left, standing right; Septimius Severus, in center, standing facing; Caracalla on right, standing left; all three are veiled and draped as priests, sacrificing at the flaming columnar altar in center; S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; ex Triton XX (11 Jan 2017), lot 618 (part of); ex A.K. Collection; ex K. Kress auction 139 (Munich, 19 Jun 1967), lot 1382; very rare; $1260.00 (€1033.20)
 


Judaea, Bar Kochba Revolt, 132 - 135 A.D.

|Bar| |Kochba|, |Judaea,| |Bar| |Kochba| |Revolt,| |132| |-| |135| |A.D.||AE| |20|
The Bar Kokhba revolt, led by Simon bar Kokhba, was the last of the major Jewish–Roman wars. The Roman army suffered heavy losses. It took six full legions, auxiliaries, and elements from as many as six more legions three years to crush the revolt. The Romans annihilated much of the Judean population. In 134, the they captured Jerusalem and Simon bar Kokhba was killed in 135. An altar to Jupiter was erected on the site of the Temple. The Jewish diaspora began as Hadrian barred Jews from Jerusalem and had survivors were dispersed across the Roman Empire. Many were sold into slavery. The Jewish people remained scattered without a homeland for close to two millennia.
JD98134. Bronze AE 20, Mildenberg p. 332, 156 (O4/R6); SNG ANS 586 (same dies); Meshorer AJC 80; Meshorer TJC p. 255, 301; Hendin 1439; Sofaer p. 283, 166, Choice gVF, well centered and struck, attractive applied desert patina, weight 5.293 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Jerusalem mint, undated, year 3, 134 - 135 A.D.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Jerusalem", seven-branched palm tree with two small bunches of dates, top of tree bent to the left; reverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: 'For the Freedom of Jerusalem', bunch of grapes on vine with small leaf; extraordinary for the type!; scarce; $1300.00 SALE PRICE $1170.00
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Demetrius III, c. 96 - 87 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Demetrius| |III,| |c.| |96| |-| |87| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
The inscription on the reverse of this coin translates, "King Demetrios, the god, father-loving, savior." He was nicknamed Eucaerus ("the Timely") by the Syrian Greeks but was called Acaerus ("the Untimely) by the Jews. He defeated the Hasmonaean priest king Alexander Jannaeus but was forced to withdraw from Judaea by the hostile population. While attempting to dethrone his brother, Philip I Philadelphus, he was defeated by the Arabs and Parthians, and taken prisoner. He was held in confinement in Parthia by Mithridates II until his death in 88 B.C.
SL94920. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber 2450(2); HGC 9 1305; cf. BMC Seleucid p. 101, 1 (SE 217, same controls); SNG Spaer 2863 (SE 219, different controls), NGC Ch XF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (5771210-005), weight 16.501 g, maximum diameter 30.10 mm, die axis 0o, Damaskos (Damascus, Syria) mint, 97 - 96 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Demetrios III right, fringe of curly beard at jawline, fillet border; reverse BAΣIΛEΩS / DHMHTPIOY / ΘEOY - ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ / ΣΩTHPOΣ, cult image of Atargatis standing facing, holding flower, barley stalk behind each shoulder, two monograms (controls) outer left, date CIS (Seleucid Era year 216) in exergue, ∆H monogram (control) in exergue on right, laurel wreath border; from the Ray Nouri Collection, NGC| Lookup; scarce; $900.00 (€738.00)
 


Aspendos, Pamphylia, 333 - 250 B.C.

|Aspendos|, |Aspendos,| |Pamphylia,| |333| |-| |250| |B.C.||stater|
After Alexander took Perga peacefully, Aspendos sent envoys to offer surrender if he would not take the taxes and horses formerly paid as tribute to the Persian king. Agreeing, Alexander went on to Side, leaving a garrison behind. When he learned they had failed to ratify the agreement their own envoys had proposed, Alexander marched to the city. The Aspendians retreated to their acropolis and again sent envoys to sue for peace. This time, however, they had to agree to harsh terms - they would host a Macedonian garrison and pay 100 gold talents and 4,000 horses annually.

This type is a late example and likely among the last of the wrestler and slinger staters. Struck during economic crisis, perhaps resulting from the harsh terms set by Alexander after their treachery, the flans are underweight, crudely cast and appear to be of debased silver. The wrestlers and slinger are carelessly depicted. It is not as attractive as earlier examples but it is certainly much scarcer.
GS95992. Silver stater, Tekin Series 5, SNGvA 4576, SNG BnF 122, SNG Cop 240, Arslan-Lightfoot -, Choice gVF, attractive style, toned, obverse edge beveled, edge cracks, weight 10.440 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 333 - 250 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers grappling, nude, wrestler on left holds the right wrist of his opponent with his right hand and right forearm with his left hand, E between their legs, tiny die break on right, beveled edge; reverse slinger, wearing short chiton, discharging sling to right, EΣTFE∆IY upward behind, O between legs, clockwise triskeles of human legs above club on right, round border of dots; from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; $720.00 (€590.40)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Demetrius II Nikator, 146 - 138 and 129 - 125 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Demetrius| |II| |Nikator,| |146| |-| |138| |and| |129| |-| |125| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Demetrius II ruled for two periods, separated by years of captivity in Parthia. He gained the throne with the help of Egypt, but general Diodotus rebelled, took Antioch and made Antiochus VI Dionysus his puppet king. Demetrius then ruled part of the kingdom from Seleucia. In 38 B.C. he attacked the Parthians but was defeated and captured, ending his first reign. The Parthians released him in 129 B.C. when his brother, Antiochus VII Sidetes, marched against Parthia. They hoped the brothers would fight a civil war but the Parthians soon defeated Sidetes, and Demetrius returned to rule Syria. His second reign portraits show him wearing a Parthian styled beard. His second reign ended when he was defeated and killed by yet another usurper set up by Egypt, Alexander II Zabinas.
GY98123. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2195(3)a; Newell Tyre 165; SNG Spaer 2239; DCA 230; HGC 9 1122; BMC Seleucids p. 76, 6 var. (control), EF, nicely toned, excellent portrait, bold strike, light bumps and scratches, a little off center, weight 13.648 g, maximum diameter 29.3 mm, die axis 45o, Tyre (Lebanon) mint, 128 - 127 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust right; reverse ∆HMHTPIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing left on ship's ram, palm frond under wing, A/PE above (Tyre monogram) over club left, AVΣ monogram over EΠP (year 185) right, ZB monogram (control) between eagles legs; $700.00 (€574.00)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Gaza, Judaea, Syria Palaestina

|Roman| |Judea| |&| |Palestina|, |Marcus| |Aurelius,| |7| |March| |161| |-| |17| |March| |180| |A.D.,| |Gaza,| |Judaea,| |Syria| |Palaestina||AE| |20|
Throughout the Roman period, Gaza was a prosperous city and received grants and attention from several emperors. A 500-member senate governed Gaza, and a diverse variety of Philistines, Greeks, Romans, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Jews, Egyptians, Persians and Bedouin populated the city. Gaza's mint stamped out coins adorned with the busts of gods, emperors, and empresses. In 66 A.D., Gaza was burned down by Jews during their rebellion against the Romans. However, it remained an important city; even more so after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus the following year.
RP98106. Bronze AE 20, Sofaer pl. 110, 118 (same rev. die); RPC IV.3 T9072 (2 spec., same obv. die, Marnas below date on plate); Rosenberger II 95; BMC Palestine p. 155, 89, Choice gVF, part of ethnic and date unstruck, attractive enhanced desert patina, weight 6.351 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 0o, Gaza mint, 163 - 164 A.D.; obverse ANTWNEN-OC CEB (starting from the upper right, letters OC CEB on the left all reversed), laureate, draped bust right; reverse ΓAZA (upward on left), ∆KC (year 224, upward on right), Tyche wearing standing facing, looking left, kalathos on head, long grounded scepter vertical in right hand, cornucopia in left, heifer standing left at feet on left, Marnas symbol upper right above date; ex Menashe Landman Collection; rare; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
 


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; $360.00 (€295.20)
 




  



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