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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Numismatics| ▸ |Countermarked||View Options:  |  |  |   

Countermarked Ancient Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.

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

|Roman| |Arabia|, |Julia| |Domna,| |Augusta| |194| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.,| |Petra,| |Arabia||AE| |26|
Petra, the capital of the ancient Nabatean Kingdom, is a famous archaeological site in Jordan's southwestern desert. UNESCO describes Petra as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." The BBC selected Petra as one of "the 40 places you have to see before you die." Accessed via a narrow canyon called Al Siq, it contains tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning its nickname, the "Rose City." Perhaps its most famous structure is 45m-high Al Khazneh, a temple with an ornate, Greek-style facade, and known as The Treasury. After the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II, died in 106 A.D., Trajan incorporated Nabataea into the Roman province Arabia Petraea. One of the latest known Nabataean language inscriptions, from 191 A.D., records "...This in the year 85 of the Eparchy [Roman Rule], in which Arabs destroyed the land." It seems likely that raiding Arab tribes extinguished what remained of a weakened Nabataean culture. In 747 A.D. what was left of the Nabataean cities was destroyed in a major earthquake.Treasury
RP113577. Bronze AE 26, Sofaer p. 193 & pl. 157, 39 (same countermark); Spijkerman p. 228, 37.1a (same); Rosenberger p. 64, 25 (same), gF, green patina, earthen deposits, edge splits, flan cracks, small spots of corrosion, weight 7.869 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 0o, Petra (Jordan) mint, obverse IOV ΔO-MNA CEB, draped bust right, hair waved and in plait at back of head; countermark: Δ in a round punch; reverse AΔPI ΠETPA MHT, Tyche seated left on a rock, turreted, small stele in right hand, trophy of arms in left hand; $220.00 (€206.80)

Severus Alexander and Julia Maesa, 222 - 235 A.D., Ninica-Claudiopolis, Cilicia

|Cilicia|, |Severus| |Alexander| |and| |Julia| |Maesa,| |222| |-| |235| |A.D.,| |Ninica-Claudiopolis,| |Cilicia||AE| |36|
Ammianus mentions Silifke and Claudiopolis as cities of Cilicia, or of the country drained by the Calycadnus; and Claudiopolis was a colony of Claudius Caesar. It is described by Theophanes of Byzantium as situated in a plain between the two Taurus Mountains, a description which exactly, corresponds to the position of the basin of the Calycadnus. Claudiopolis may therefore be represented by Mut, which is higher up the valley than Seleucia, and near the junction of the northern and western branches of the Calycadnus. It is also the place to which the pass over the northern Taurus leads from Laranda. The city received the Roman colony name Colonia Iulia Felix Augusta Ninica.
RB91011. Bronze AE 36, cf. 6551 (same obv. die & c/m), SNG Levante -, RPC Online -, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, BMC Cilicia -, c/m: Howgego 262, F, weak legends, porosity, edge cracks, weight 17.901 g, maximum diameter 35.8 mm, die axis 180o, Ninica-Claudiopolis (Mut, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 222 - 235 A.D.; obverse IMP C SEVERUS ALEXANΔER AVΓ (or similar), laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; c/m: Nike right in c. 5 x 8 mm oval punch (3 times); reverse IVL MAECA COL IVL FEL NINIO CLAUΔIOPOLI (or similar), draped bust of Julia Maesa right; huge 35.8 mm!; ex Forum (2015); extremely rare; $180.00 (€169.20)

Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Antioch, Syria

|Antioch|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Antioch,| |Syria||AE| |26|
The ruins of Antioch on the Orontes lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey. Founded near the end of the 4th century B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch's geographic, military and economic location, particularly the spice trade, the Silk Road, the Persian Royal Road, benefited its occupants, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East and as the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period. Antioch is called "the cradle of Christianity," for the pivotal early role it played in the emergence of the faith. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents are known as Antiochenes. Once a great metropolis of half a million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes following the Mongol conquests, which then no longer passed through Antioch from the far east.6th Century Antioch
CM112118. Bronze AE 26, RPC II 2022g (2 spec.); McAlee 407g (ex rare); countermark: Howgego 245, gF, tight flan cutting off most of legend, marks, weight 11.872 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 0o, 7th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 81 - 83 A.D.; obverse IMP DOMITIANVS CAES AVG, laureate head right; countermark: Athena standing right in 6x4mm rectangular punch, spear vertical behind in her right, left hand resting on grounded shield; reverse large S C (senatus consulto), Z (7th officina) below, within laurel wreath with eight bunches of leaves; from the Michael Arslan Collection; extremely rare; $120.00 (€112.80)

Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Alabanda, Caria

|Other| |Caria|, |Caracalla,| |28| |January| |198| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.,| |Alabanda,| |Caria||AE| |26|
Alabanda was on the river Marsyas, about twenty miles south of its confluence with the Maeander. It allied with Rome in the war against Philip V of Macedon, c. 197 B.C. Antiochus III took it soon after and renamed it Antiocheia until his defeat in 190 B.C. at the battle of Magnesia. Price dated this series of Alexandrine tetradrachms beginning in 173 B.C. and ending in 167 B.C., when Alabanda was defeated after invading Rhodian territory. Cohen begins the era in 167 B.C., after Caria and Lycia were declared free by the Roman Senate.

The portrait countermarks of Caracalla and Geta (GIC 39i & 39ii) are well-known on Alabandian Roman provincials from the standpoint of their occurrence, but not much is known on why they exist. Writing in Greek Imperial Countermarks (1985), Christopher Howgego notes simply, “It is impossible to read the letters on many of the countermarks. The countermarks are not found on the coins of Caracalla's sole reign (unlike cmk 52) and therefore probably belong to the joint reign of Caracalla and Geta.” In part five of SNG Tübingen, however, we find two Severan coins of Alabanda probably marked with the bust of Julia Domna (nos. 3343 & 3346), in a manner similar to the other Severan countermarks. Also intriguing is the possibility of Severus within the obverse punch on BMC 46, who looks both laureate and bearded, in addition to a letter on either side of the portrait which may read “C – E” rather than “Γ – E.” In light of this evidence, one wonders if the purpose of the literal GIC 39 family of marks was tied to an imperial visit to Alabanda or the anticipation of one.
RP112699. Bronze AE 26, BMC Caria, p. 8, 46 (same dies); SNG Tüb 3345, 3346 corr. (leg. arrangement); McClean 8442; countermarks: obv: Howgego 39ii; rev: Howgego -, F, green patina, scratches, areas flattened by countermarks, chipped patina on edge, scattered porosity on rev., weight 6.302 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alabanda (Doganyurt, Turkey) mint, 28 Jan 198 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse ΑV Κ Μ ΑV Α[ΝΤΩΝΙΝΟC?], laureate, cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; countermark: right-facing bust of Caracalla with sideways 'A' before (pointing inward), in a 6.5mm round punch; reverse [AΛ]ABANΔEΩN, kithara (lyre); countermark: eagle with wings open (?); the first example of this type handled by Forum; from the Michael Arslan Collection; added to the RPC Online V database; scarce; $120.00 (€112.80)

Lot of 6 Countermarked Roman Provincial Bronzes, c. 44 B.C. - 161 A.D.

|Countermarked|, |Lot| |of| |6| |Countermarked| |Roman| |Provincial| |Bronzes,| |c.| |44| |B.C.| |-| |161| |A.D.||Lot|
The following list was copied from CNG and collector tags and has not been verified by FORVM:
1) Chersonesus, Thrace, AE21, countermark: monogram in round punch.
2) Tiberius, AE24, radiate head left, countermark: altar in oval punch (Howgego 367).
3) Roman provincial, AE22, head right, countermark: female head right in oval punch.
4) Antoninus Pius, AE25, Nicaea, head right, countermark: winged Nike in oval punch.
5) Antoninus Pius, AE22, Zeugma, temple on mountain rev., countermark: uncertain.
6) Antoninus Pius, AE24, Topirus, countermark:monogram in round punch (Howgego 621).
LT110942. Bronze Lot, Lot of 6 countermarked Roman provincial bronzes, 22-25 mm diameter, coins Fair or better, countermarks F - VF, all ex CNG e-sales (with tags), all ex Richard Baker Collection (4 collector tags); the actual coins in the photograph, no flips, as-is, no returns, 6 coins; $110.00 (€103.40)

Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D., Cadi, Phrygia

|Other| |Phrygia|, |Claudius,| |25| |January| |41| |-| |13| |October| |54| |A.D.,| |Cadi,| |Phrygia||AE| |20|
Cadi (Gediz, Turkey) was near the sources of the Hermus at the foot of Mount Dindymus. Gediz suffered major earthquakes in 1866, 1896, 1944, and 1970. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 28 March 1970 killed 1,086 people and left 1,260 people wounded and many thousands homeless. The town was relocated after the destruction to a new place 7 km away under the name "Yeni Gediz" (Turkish: New Gediz).
RP112132. Bronze AE 20, RPC Online I 3062; SNG Cop 246; SNGvA3685; SNG Lewis 1523; BMC Phrygia p. 120, 18; c/m: Howgego 309, F, dark patina, weight 4.886 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Cadi (Gediz, Turkey) mint, stephanephoro Meliton Asklepiadou, c. 50 - 54 A.D.; obverse KΛAYΔIOC KAICAP (counterclockwise from lower right), laureate head right; countermark: Capricorn right in an oval punch; reverse EΠI MEΛITΩNOC ACKΛHΠIAΔOY (under authority of Meliton, son of Asklepiados), Zeus standing left, eagle in right hand, long scepter in left hand, CTEΦAN monogram (stephanephoros, magistrate title) in lower left field; from Shawn Caza former diplomat, author of A Handbook of Late Roman Coins (Spink, 2021), collection assembled during postings and international travel; ex Dorotheum Vienna; $90.00 (€84.60)

Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 27 B.C.

|Cilicia|, |Tarsos,| |Cilicia,| |c.| |164| |-| |27| |B.C.||AE| |20|
In ancient Greek mythology, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city. She wears a mural crown (a crown that resembles the walls of the city).
GB110118. Bronze AE 20, cf. SNG Levante 918 ff.; SNG BnF 1285 ff.; SNG Cop 326 f.; SNGvA 5973; BMC Lycaonia p. 181, 115 (various controls), aF, green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, c/m: VF, weight 5.513 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 164 - 27 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right, hair rolled, two strands with loose curls down back of neck, monogram (control) behind; countermark: bow in bowcase in a rectangular punch; reverse Zeus seated left on throne with high back, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, long scepter topped with an eagle in right hand, TAPΣEΩN downward on left, two monograms (controls) on right; $80.00 (€75.20)

Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 37 B.C.

|Cilicia|, |Tarsos,| |Cilicia,| |c.| |164| |-| |37| |B.C.||AE| |21|
Sandan was a Hittite-Babylonian sun, storm, or warrior god, also perhaps associated with agriculture. The Greeks equated Sandan with Herakles (Hercules). At Tarsus an annual festival honored Sandan-Herakles, which climaxed when, as depicted on this coin, an image of the god was burned on a funeral pyre.
RP99547. Bronze AE 21, SNG BnF 1334 (same rev. die, same c/m); SNG Levante 952 (same c/m); BMC Lycaonia p. 180, 106 ff. var. (controls); SNG Cop 333 ff. var. (same), F, green patina, earthen deposits, edge split, reverse edge beveled, weight 5.905 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 164 - 37 B.C.; obverse veiled and turreted head of Tyche right; countermark: radiate head of Helios within oval punch; reverse Sandan cult image standing right on horned and winged animal, on a garlanded base and within a pyramidal pyre surmounted by a winged animal, TAPΣEΩN downward on right, AP / AP / DI / Θ (controls) left; $70.00 (€65.80)

|Countermarked|, |Augustus,| |16| |January| |27| |B.C.| |-| |19| |August| |14| |A.D.,| |Caius| |and| |Lucius| |Reverse||denarius|
Struck around the time of Jesus' birth. This type is considered a possible "Tribute Penny" because it is a denarius that circulated in the lifetime of Christ and the image and inscription are of "Caesar."

The brothers, Caius and Lucius, were the sons of Agrippa and Julia, daughter of Augustus. They were due to succeed Augustus but predeceased him in 4 and 2 A.D. respectively.
RS77346. Silver denarius, RIC I 207, RSC I 43, BMCRE I 533, BnF I 1651, Hunter I 217, SRCV I 1597, aVF, toned, light marks and scratches, weight 3.753 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 225o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.; obverse CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE, laureate head right, countermark: COMM in rectangular punch; reverse C L CAESARES AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT, Caius and Lucius Caesars stand facing, togate, each resting hand on a round shield with spear behind, above center on left a simpulum right and on right a lituus left; SOLD

Lot of 13 Countermarked Ancient Bronze Coins, c. 350 B.C. - 450 A.D.

|Countermarked|, |Lot| |of| |13| |Countermarked| |Ancient| |Bronze| |Coins,| |c.| |350| |B.C.| |-| |450| |A.D.||Lot|
LT75954. Bronze Lot, 13 countermarked ancient bronze coins, 14.6 - 27.3mm diameter, nice countermarks - the best of which are probably visible in the photo; the actual coins in photograph; not researched by FORVM, unattributed, not tags or flip, as is, no returns; SOLD




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Barag, D. "The countermarks of the Legio Decima Fretensis" in Kindler Patterns. (Tel-Aviv, 1967).
Barag, D. & S. Qedar. "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War" in INJ 13 (1994).
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