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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Quality| ▸ |Masterpiece Portraits||View Options:  |  |  | 

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits

We define a superb portrait as one that appears that it could come to life. Most coin portraits actually lack this trait. A masterpiece portrait not only appears that it could come to life, but also makes an impression of what the subject was like, what they were thinking or how they felt. Of course, an abstract Celticized portrait may also be a masterpiece of a different kind. For the most part, we define a portrait as depicting a real person, not a god, personification or mythical hero, but we will make an exception here when the depiction is especially amazing. In addition to portraits of the finest style, on this page we include rarer bust types and portraits that we just find attractive or interesting.

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 SALE PRICE $1674.00
 


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 SALE PRICE $630.00
 


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Neapolis, Samaria, Syria Palestina

|Roman| |Judea| |&| |Palestina|, |Elagabalus,| |16| |May| |218| |-| |11| |March| |222| |A.D.,| |Neapolis,| |Samaria,| |Syria| |Palestina||AE| |24|
Neapolis, Samaria, the biblical Shechemis, is now Nablus, Israel. It is the site of Joseph's Tomb and Jacob's well. Jesus spoke here to a Samaritan woman. Neapolis is home to about half the remaining worldwide Samaritan population of 600.
RP98112. Bronze AE 24, SNG ANS 1007 (same dies); cf. Rosenberger II 53; BMC Palestine p. 61, 103; Sofaer 109 - 110; Baramki AUB 36, nice VF, excellent portrait, attractive green patina with highlighting earthen deposits, some legend not fully struck, edge splits, weight 6.701 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Neapolis (Nablus, Israel) mint, 16 May 218 - 11 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse AVT K M AVP - ANTWNIN, laureate head right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse ΦΛ NE - CVP Π (Flavia Neapolis Syria Palestina), Tyche standing slightly left, head left, kalathos on head, rudder held by tiller in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ex Menashe Landman Collection; rare; $225.00 SALE PRICE $203.00
 


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

|Caracalla|, |Caracalla,| |28| |January| |198| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||dupondius|
In 213, Caracalla left Rome to expel some German marauders from Gaul, then defended the northern Rhine frontier against the Alamanni and the Chatti. After his victory over the German tribes on the banks of the River Main, he gave himself the title "Germanicus." It is probably while campaigning in Germania that he took a liking to the caracalla, a Celtic or German tunic from which he acquired the name by which he is known today. His mother, Julia Domna, stayed behind and ruled the Empire.
RB98433. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC IV 514 (S), BMCRE V 254, Cohen IV 534, SRCV II 6973, Hunter III 81 var. (slight drapery), aVF, excellent portrait, dark green and red patina, reverse legend partially unstruck, weight 8.190 g, maximum diameter 251 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 213 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, radiate head right; reverse PROVIDENTIAE DEORVM (to the foresight of the gods), Providentia standing left, baton held over globe in right hand, long scepter in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; scarce; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


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|
Fecunditas (Latin: "fecundity, fertility") was the goddess of fertility. She was portrayed as a matron, sometimes holding a cornucopia or a hasta pura, with children in her arms or standing next to her.
RS94690. Silver denarius, RSC III 6, RIC IV 332, BMCRE VI 913, SRCV II 8208, Hunter III -, gVF, dark as-found hoard toning, excellent portrait, flow lines, tight flan, some light corrosion, small edge cracks, weight 1.334 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 232 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, with looped plait at the back of neck; reverse FECVND AVGVSTAE, Fecunditas enthroned left, reaching out with her right hand to small boy standing before her nude with hands raised, left arm on chair; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00
 


Licinius I, 11 November 308 - 18 September 324 A.D.

|Licinius| |I|, |Licinius| |I,| |11| |November| |308| |-| |18| |September| |324| |A.D.||follis|
Most references describe this bust as laureate and cuirassed. Hunter V breaks from tradition and correctly recognizes that the loop on the left shoulder indicates drapery, the paludamentum. To avoid confusion, we use the traditional description omitting "draped" from the description.
RT97778. Billon follis, Hunter V 4, RIC VII Londinium 3, SRCV IV 15184, Cohen VII 49, gVF, choice bold obverse, light marks, scattered porosity, small green encrustations, weight 3.045 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, Londinium (London, England) mint, 313 - 314 A.D.; obverse IMP LICINIVS P F AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse GENIO POP ROM (to the guardian spirit of the Roman people), Genius standing slightly left, head left, kalathos on head, himation over left arm/shoulder and around hips and legs, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, S and F left and right, PLN in exergue; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

|Roman| |Egypt|, |Gallienus,| |August| |253| |-| |September| |268| |A.D.,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt||tetradrachm|
In 268, Germanic Alamanni tribes invades Italy north of the Po River. In November, a Roman army of 35,000 men under emperor Claudius II defeated them along the banks of Lake Garda.
RX93394. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 2944; Milne 4188; BMC Alexandria p. 290, 2229; SNG Cop 802; Kampmann 90.97; Emmett 3804 (R1); Curtis -; Dattari -, VF, superb portrait style, flow lines, porosity/mild corrosion, a little off center on a broad flan, edge cracks, weight 10.192 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 267 - 28 Aug 268 A.D.; obverse AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse eagle standing left, head turned back right, wreath in beak, palm frond right, L IE (year 15) left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $75.00 SALE PRICE $60.00 ON RESERVE







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