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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Types| ▸ |Nude or Erotic||View Options:  |  |  | 

Nude Figures and Erotic Images on Ancient Coins

The ancients had a grand appreciation for the beauty of the human body and a rather bawdy view of sexuality.

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)
 


Aspendos, Pamphylia, 370 - 333 B.C.

|Aspendos|, |Aspendos,| |Pamphylia,| |370| |-| |333| |B.C.||stater|
The countermark appears to be a Hoplite advancing right with sword in right and round shield in left, in oval incuse. The hoplite represents the soldiery for which Aspendus was famous. The astonishing abundance of the silver money of Aspendus is a proof of the commercial importance of the town; and the number of countermarks and barbarous imitations shows that it circulated widely in the region.22.6
SH95389. Silver stater, Arslan-Lightfoot 39; SNGvA 4561; Tekin Series 4, 11; SNG BnF 84; SNG Cop 231; SNG Berry 1224 (all same obv die), VF, attractive rainbow toning, typical slightly flat strike, weight 10.855 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 370 - 333 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers, the left one holds the wrist of his opponent with his right and right forearm with his left hand, AK between their legs; reverse slinger, wearing short chiton, discharging sling to right, triskeles on right with feet clockwise, EΣTΦE∆IIYΣ upward on left, countermark lower right: lion head right in a round 3.6mm punch; ex Forum (2011); $670.00 (€549.40)
 


Aspendos, Pamphylia, 370 - 333 B.C.

|Aspendos|, |Aspendos,| |Pamphylia,| |370| |-| |333| |B.C.||stater|
The BΛ is among the rarest control marks on Aspendos staters of this type.
GS97487. Silver stater, SNG Pfälzer IV 5, Tekin Series 4, Arslan-Lightfoot -, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Berry -, VF, die wear, flow lines, tight flan cutting off slinger's feet, porosity, light marks and scratches, weight 10.532 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 370 - 333 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers, the left one holds the wrist of his opponent with his right and right forearm with his left hand, BΛ between their legs; reverse slinger discharging sling to right, wearing short chiton, EΣTΦE∆IIYΣ upward on left, triskeles on right with feet clockwise; ex Papillon auction 3 (27 Dec 20), lot 152; very rare variant; $600.00 (€492.00)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

|Trajan|, |Trajan,| |25| |January| |98| |-| |8| |or| |9| |August| |117| |A.D.||denarius|
On 8 or 9 August 117, Trajan, age 63, died at Selinus, Cilicia while en route to Italy. On his death bed, he adopted Hadrian as his successor. The Roman Empire reached its maximum territorial extent at the time of Trajan's death.
RS94609. Silver denarius, Woytek 518v, RSC II 276, RIC II 347, BMCRE III 549, BnF IV 826, Hunter II 176, Strack I 227, SRCV II 3149, F, nice portrait for the grade, light toning, flow lines, scattered porosity, tight flan, weight 3.227 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, winter 114 - early 117 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Genius or Bonus Eventus standing slightly left, head left, nude, patera in right hand, two head of grain downward in left hand; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $100.00 (€82.00) ON RESERVE


Kaunos, Caria, c. 197 - 191 B.C. (or Later 2nd Century)

|Kaunos|, |Kaunos,| |Caria,| |c.| |197| |-| |191| |B.C.| |(or| |Later| |2nd| |Century)||AE| |16|
On the Rosetta Stone, "The Memphis Decree" announces Ptolemy V's rule and ascension to godhood, and describes him as "like Horus." In "A Statue of a Hellenistic King," Journal of Hellenistic Studies, 33 (1913), C. Edgar attributes a statue very similar to the reverse figure to Ptolemy V: "[The statue] stands with right foot drawn back, the toes alone resting on the ground...His head is held erect and his gaze is turned slightly to his right. His shoulders are drawn up a little...[the upper part] unnaturally short in proportion to the lower part of the trunk...[The missing right] forearm was clear of the body. The [missing] left hand was raised and probably rested on a spear." We believe this type is from the among the last issues of Kaunos under Ptolemaic rule, struck after the 13 year old Ptolemy V came of age in 197/6 B.C., perhaps to commemorate his accession, and before he sold the city to the Rhodians for 200 talents of silver in 191 B.C.
GB87087. Bronze AE 16, SNGvA 8103; Lindgren III 425; Imhoof-Blumer KM I, p. 138, 1; BMC Caria -; SNG Cop -; SNG Keckman -; SNG Munchen -, VF, green patina, well centered on a tight flan, a little porous/rough, tiny edge crack, weight 2.166 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 0o, Kaunos (Dalyan, Turkey) mint, c. 197 - 191 B.C. (or later 2nd century); obverse diademed and horned head of Alexander the Great right; reverse youth (Ptolemy V as Horus?) advancing right, nude, long lotus-tipped scepter transverse in left hand, right arm and index finger extended, snake before him coiled around scepter, K-AY (Kaunos) divided high across field, ΣΩ-TAΣ (magistrate) divided across center; very rare; $80.00 (€65.60)
 


Maximinus II Daia, Late 309 - 30 April 313 A.D.

|Maximinus| |II|, |Maximinus| |II| |Daia,| |Late| |309| |-| |30| |April| |313| |A.D.||follis|
In Roman religion, every man has a genius, a presiding spirit. In De Die Natali, Censorinus says, from the moment we are born, we live under the guard and tutelage of Genius. Cities, organizations, and peoples also had a genius. On coins, we find inscriptions to the Genius of the Army, of the Senate, of the Roman People, etc. The legend GENIO AVGVSTI dedicates this coin to the Genius of the Augusti, the Emperors. The figure depicted is the statue of the Spirit of the Roman People which was then in the Roman Forum (it is now lost). The act of pouring the libation to the emperor illustrates what the Christians were required to do in order not to be persecuted.
RT93355. Billon follis, RIC VI Alexandria 152b, SRCV IV 14841, Cohen VII 17, Hunter V -, gVF, dark brown patina, flow lines, porosity, slightly off center, reverse die wear, tiny edge crack, weight 5.116 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Alexandria mint, 312 A.D.; obverse IMP C GAL VAL MAXIMINVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse GENIO AVGVSTI (to the guardian spirit of the Emperor), Genio standing facing, head left, kalathos on head, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, head of Serapis in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, crescent upper left, X in left field, B in right field, ALE in exergue; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $80.00 (€65.60)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

|Nikopolis|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Nikopolis| |ad| |Istrum,| |Moesia| |Inferior||assarion|
The figure on the reverse is most often identified as Eros (Cupid) or a generic winged Genius. The inverted torch represents a life extinguished, indicating the figure is Thanatos (death). By the Severan Era, there was increased hope for an afterlife in pleasant Elysium rather than in dismal Hades. Thanatos was associated more with a gentle passing than a woeful demise. Thanatos as a winged boy, very much akin to Cupid, with crossed legs and an inverted torch, became the most common symbol for death, depicted on many Roman sarcophagi.
RP97238. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.16.16 (R3), Moushmov 926, AMNG I/I 1367 (R3) var. (leg.), Varbanov I 2481 (R3) var. (obv. leg., bust), BMC Thrace -, SNG Cop -, F, rough, edge ragged, part of reverse legend not struck, weight 3.040 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 30o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AV KAI CEVHP, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC I, winged Thanatos standing right, legs crossed legs, leaning on reversed torch on right set on low base; scarce; $60.00 (€49.20)
 


Galerius, 1 March 305 - 5 May 311 A.D.

|Galerius|, |Galerius,| |1| |March| |305| |-| |5| |May| |311| |A.D.||follis|
In Roman religion, every man has a genius, a presiding spirit. In De Die Natali, Censorinus says, from the moment we are born, we live under the guard and tutelage of Genius. Cities, organizations, and peoples also had a genius. On coins, we find inscriptions to the Genius of the Army, of the Senate, of the Roman People, etc. The legend GENIO IMPERATORIS dedicates this coin to the Genius of the Imperators. Genius' image is of a man with a cloak half covering the shoulders leaving the rest of his body naked, holding a cornucopia in one hand, and a simpulum or a patera in the other.
RL94871. Billon follis, RIC VI Alexandria 79, SRCV IV 14523, Cohen VII 48, Hunter V -, aVF, dark patina, light corrosion, weight 7.648 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Alexandria mint, late 308 A.D.; obverse IMP C GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse GENIO IMPERATORIS (to the guardian spirit of the Emperor as Commander in Chief), Genius standing left, cornucopia in left hand, pouring libations from patera in right, X left, A over K right, ALE in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $50.00 (€41.00)
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

|Gallienus|, |Gallienus,| |August| |253| |-| |September| |268| |A.D.||antoninianus|
Jupiter or Jove, Zeus to the Greeks, was the king of the gods and god of the sky and thunder, and of laws and social order. As the patron deity of ancient Rome, he was the chief god of the Capitoline Triad, with his sister and wife Juno. The father of Mars, he is, therefore, the grandfather of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. Emperors frequently made vows to Jupiter for protection. The Roman's believed as the king of the gods, Jupiter favored emperors and kings, those in positions of authority similar to his own.
RA94174. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 641a, RIC V-1 S214, RSC IV 382a, Hunter IV S85, SRCV III 10244, aF, well centered, ragged edge, weight 2.174 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 315o, 11th officina, Rome mint, 264 - 266 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse IOVI PROPVGNAT (Jupiter the defender), Jupiter advancing left left, head right, nude but for cloak flying out behind, brandishing thunderbolt in right, XI left; $32.00 (€26.24)
 


Roman (Nemausus?), Bronze Phallic Amulet, 2nd Century A.D.

|Malloy| |Roman|, |Roman| |(Nemausus?),| |Bronze| |Phallic| |Amulet,| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.|
From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years.

"The Worship of the Generative Powers" by Thomas Wright (1866) discusses phallic worship, which appears to have flourished across the Empire, especially at Nemausus, modern Nimes in the south of France. At Nemausus the symbols of this worship appeared in bizarre fanciful sculptures on the walls of its amphitheater and on other buildings. An engraving from Wright's book, shown here, depicts a Roman bas relief found on a monument at Nimes, on which a penis forms the tail of a crested bird that sits upon a nest of egg-like vulvas. This amulet is likely related to worship at Nemausus.
Alexander's Empire
AS36085. Bronze erotic phallic amulet; 4 cm long; male figure (a squirrel?), arms together out front, standing on large erect phallus (the squirrel's tail?), Superb, very strange!; of greatest rarity; SOLD







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