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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.

Judaea, Valerius Gratus, Roman Prefect Under Tiberius, 15 - 26 A.D., Cohors II Italica Civium Romanorum Countermark

|Valerius| |Gratus|, |Judaea,| |Valerius| |Gratus,| |Roman| |Prefect| |Under| |Tiberius,| |15| |-| |26| |A.D.,| |Cohors| |II| |Italica| |Civium| |Romanorum| |Countermark||prutah|
Now there was a certain man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort...(Acts 10:1).

Spijkermann was the first to publish a countermarked prutah, also a Valerius Gratus coin, in 1963. Lnnqvist published the first detailed study, "New Vistas on the Countermarked Coins of the Roman Prefects of Judaea" in INJ 12. Kogon published an update, "Countermarks on Small Judean Coins" in INR 7, identifying 47 known specimens of countermarked prutah of all types. Both papers are available online. Lnnqvist interpreted CΠ in the countermark as an abbreviation for the Greek word σπειρα, referring to a Roman legionary tactical unit, a cohors. The use of CΠ referring to a cohors is also known from an inscription. He suggested that the countermarks were applied in 36 - 37 A.D. in Jerusalem to mark the coins as pay for the soldiers of the cohors II Italica civium Romanorum.
JD111613. Bronze prutah, Hendin 6369a (same c/m); RPC I 4966.8-11 (same); Meshorer TJC 330 (same); countermark: Kogon 3b, Howgego GIC 386, coin: Fair, countermark: VF, weight 2.195 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 24 - 25 A.D., c/m: 36 - 37/41 A.D.; obverse TIB / KAI/CAP (Greek: Tiberius Caesar) in three lines within wreath tied at base with an X; reverse palm branch curving right, flanked by IOY-ΛIA (Greek: Julia = Tiberius' mother Livia) above L - IA (year 11 of Tiberius) in two lines across field; countermark: palm frond flanked by C-Π within 8mm circular punch; from the collection of a Texas clergyman, ex J. P. Fontanille Collection (2016); rare countermark; $1600.00 (1472.00)


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. asiaminorcoins.com 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, 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; $200.00 (184.00)


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Judaea Capta, Caesarea Maritima, Samaria, Judaea

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Judaea| |Capta,| |Caesarea| |Maritima,| |Samaria,| |Judaea||AE| |24|
Judaea Capta issue minted at Caesarea Maritima, Judaea. This issue mistakenly titles Domitian 'IMP XXIII' though he never received a twenty-third acclamation. All known specimens of this type display this error.
JD111095. Bronze AE 24, Meshorer TJC 395a (same c/m); Hendin 6486a (same); SNG ANS 489 (same); Sofaer 38 (same); RPC Online II 2308; BMC Palestine p. 281, 38, aF, near black patina, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 9.839 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Caesarea Maritima (Keisaria, Israel) mint, 92 - 93 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P XII, laureate head right; countermark: laureate head right (Howgego GIC 133); reverse IMP XXIII COS XVI CENS P P P, Victory advancing left in flowing gown, wreath in right hand, trophy in left hand; $160.00 (147.20)


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; $125.00 (115.00)


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Gadara, Decapolis

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Vespasian,| |1| |July| |69| |-| |24| |June| |79| |A.D.,| |Gadara,| |Decapolis||AE| |23|
A round countermark with a head right is common on this type and is identified usually attributed as Howgego 206. Howgego identifies the head as Tyche but notes it may be male and may appear turreted due to an undertype. RPC II notes the heads are not all the same. We believe some do look very much like Tyche-Fortuna and some look very male. This one looks male.
GB111784. Bronze AE 23, Spijkerman 26a (c/m male bust); RPC II 2093; SNG ANS 6 1300; Rosenberger 32; Sofaer 24; countermark: Howgego 206, gF, dark green patina with highlighting earthen deposits, obv. countermark, weight 11.134 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 0o, Decapolis, Gadara (Um Qais, Jordan) mint, 71 - 72 A.D.; obverse OYECΠACIANOC KAICAP (clockwise from upper right), laureate head right; countermark: male(?) head right in a round punch; reverse ΓAΔAPA (clockwise on right), Tyche standing left, wreath in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, date LEΛP (year 135) horizontal center left; ex CNG e-auction 510 (23 Feb 2022), lot 479; ex Dr. Jay M. Galst Collection; $110.00 (101.20)


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 (73.60)







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REFERENCES

Baker, R. "The Countermarks Found on Ancient Roman Coins: A Brief Introduction" in SAN XV (1984). pp. 52-58.
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).
Bauslaugh, R. "Cistophoric Countermarks and he Monetary System of Eumenes II" in NC 1990.
Bendall, S. "An 'Eagle' Countermark on Sixth-century Byzantine Coins" in NC 136 (1976), p. 230.
Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Davesne, A. "Une contremarque au trident sur certaines monnaies de Ptolme II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-smitiques sur les monnaies grecques et proche-orientales. Glaux 13. (Milan, 1998).
Evans, J. "Heraclian Countermarks on Coins Found in Caesarea" in AJN 5 (1993), pp. 97-104, and AJN 6 (1994), pp. 102-104.
Goehring, J. "Two New Examples of the Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark" in NC 143 (1983), pp. 218-220.
Howgego, C. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Krusy, H. Gegenstempel auf Mnzen des Sptmittelalters. (Frankfurt & Mainz, 1974).
Lampinen, P. "Countermarked Byzantine Folles and the Identification of a New Imperial Family Member" in Caesarea Papers 2. (Portsmouth, 1999), pp. 399-404.
Lowick, N., S. Bendall, & P. Whitting. The Mardin Hoard, Islamic Countermarks on Byzantine Folles. (London, 1977).
Mac Dowall, D. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68." in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Vol. IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Schulze, W. "The Byzantine 'Eagle' Countermark - Re-attributed from Egypt to Palestine" in INR volume 4 (2009), pp. 113-120.
Schulze, W. & T. Goodwin|. Countermarking in Seventh Century Syria|. (Supplement to ONS Newsletter, 183). (2005).
Schulze, W., I. Schulze|, & W. Leimenstoll. "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins in seventh century Syria" in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-27.
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarques en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Thompson, M. "A Countermarked Hoard from Bykekmece" in ANSMN VI (New York, 1954), pp. 11 - 34, pls. I - VII.
Topalov, S. New Contributions to the Study of the Countermarking of Coins in the Area of the West Pontic Cities, 3rd-1st c. B.C. (Sofia, 2002).
Waggoner, N. "The Propontis Hoard" in NR XII, 1979, pp. 7 - 29, plates I - X.
Werz, U. "Die Gegenstempel von Kalkriese und der Mnzumlauf in frhtiberischer Zeit in der Germania inferior und superior" in Wiegels, p. 237 - 252.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprgungen der rmischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).
Woods, D. "The Byzantine Eagle Countermark: Creating a Pseudo-Consular Coinage under the Heraclii" in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015), pp. 927-945.

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