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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.

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SL97988. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-003), weight 17.196 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 225o, Athens mint, c. 440 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 (€1927.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SL97993. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-001), weight 17.199 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 420 - 413 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 (€1927.00)
 


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)
 


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; $1000.00 (€820.00)
 


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)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

|Antoninus| |Pius|, |Antoninus| |Pius,| |August| |138| |-| |7| |March| |161| |A.D.||sestertius|
The Temple of Divus Augustus was a major temple originally built to commemorate the deified first Roman emperor, Augustus. It was built between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, behind the Basilica Julia, on the site of the house that Augustus had inhabited before he entered public life in the mid-1st century B.C. It is known from Roman coinage that the temple was originally built to an Ionic hexastyle design. However, its size, physical proportions and exact site are unknown. Provincial temples of Augustus, such as the much smaller Temple of Augustus in Pula, now in Croatia, had already been constructed during his lifetime. Probably because of popular resistance to the notion, he was not officially deified in Rome until after his death, when a temple at Nola in Campania, where he died, seems to have been begun. Subsequently, temples were dedicated to him all over the Roman Empire. The last known reference to the temple was on 27 May 218. At some point thereafter it was completely destroyed and its stones were presumably quarried for later buildings. Its remains are not visible and the area in which it lay has never been excavated.
SL97997. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 1004, BMCRE IV 2063, Cohen II 805, Hunter II 352, Banti 406, SRCV II 4235, Ch VF, strike 5/5, surface 2/5 (605513-014); Tiber patina, weight 26.07 g, maximum diameter 9.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 158 - 159 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XXII, laureate head right; reverse TEMPLVM DIV AVG REST, octastyle temple set on podium of four steps, seated facing statues of Divus Augustus and Livia within, standing figure (Divus Augustus?) between two reclining figures on pediment, quadriga at peak of roof, acroteria (Romulus on left, Aeneas bearing Anchises on right) at corners of roof, S - C (senatus consulto) across fields, COS IIII below; ex Heritage auction 61210 (16 May 2021), lot 99129; ex CNG e-auction 247 (12 Jan 2011), lot 287 (realized $1,300 plus fees); NGC| Lookup; $720.00 (€590.40)
 


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)
 


Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, Class A3, Basil II & Constantine VIII, c. 1023 - 11 November 1028 A.D.

|Anonymous| |Folles|, |Byzantine| |Anonymous| |Follis| |of| |Christ,| |Class| |A3,| |Basil| |II| |&| |Constantine| |VIII,| |c.| |1023| |-| |11| |November| |1028| |A.D.||anonymous| |follis|
The emperor's name and portrait are not part of the design on the Byzantine types referred to as anonymous folles. Instead of the earthly king, these coins depict Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
BZ91275. Bronze anonymous follis, Anonymous follis of Christ class A3; Grierson-NumisWiki ornaments 47; DOC III-2 A2.47, Wroth BMC 4, Ratto 1974, Sommer 40.3.4, SBCV 1818, VF, tight flan, reverse off center, weight 11.685 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, c. 1023 - 11 Nov 1028 A.D.; obverse + EMMANOVHΛ (Latinized Hebrew: Emmanuel - "God with us"), facing nimbate bust of Christ, pallium and colobium, Gospels in both hands, IC - XC (Greek abbreviation: Ihsoús Xristós - Jesus Christ) across field; reverse + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Greek: Jesus Christ King of Kings), square above and below inscription; $160.00 (€131.20)
 


Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, Class A3, Basil II & Constantine VIII, c. 1023 - 11 November 1028 A.D.

|Anonymous| |Folles|, |Byzantine| |Anonymous| |Follis| |of| |Christ,| |Class| |A3,| |Basil| |II| |&| |Constantine| |VIII,| |c.| |1023| |-| |11| |November| |1028| |A.D.||anonymous| |follis|
The emperor's name and portrait are not part of the design on the Byzantine types referred to as anonymous folles. Instead of the earthly king, these coins depict Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
BZ91286. Bronze anonymous follis, Anonymous follis of Christ class A3; Grierson-NumisWiki ornaments 47; DOC III-2 A2.47, Wroth BMC 4, Ratto 1974, Sommer 40.3.4, SBCV 1818, gVF, part of edge ragged, reverse off center, weight 10.017 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, c. 1023 - 11 Nov 1028 A.D.; obverse + EMMANOVHΛ (Latinized Hebrew: Emmanuel - "God with us"), facing nimbate bust of Christ, pallium and colobium, Gospels in both hands, IC - XC (Greek abbreviation: Ihsoús Xristós - Jesus Christ) across field; reverse + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Greek: Jesus Christ King of Kings), square above and below inscription; $160.00 (€131.20)
 




  



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