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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ AnimalsView Options:  |  |  |   

Animals on Ancient Coins

Browse all our coins and antiquities depicting animals below or use the menu on the left to select specific types of animals.


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 550 - 450 B.C.

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Kyzikos, purportedly the first Milesian colony, was located on the southwest shore of the Propontis in ancient Mysia next to the river Aisepos. Its prosperity was due principally to its two fine harbors, which made the city a convenient stopping point for merchant ships trading between the Aegean and Black Seas. Its principal export was the tunny, of which its waters had abundant stock. The prevalence of winged beings in Kyzikene coinage is a reflection of archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. In the case of the winged animals, we should probably understand these to be attributes of or animals sacred to a particular Olympian god.
SH86217. Electrum stater, Von Fritze I (Nomisma VII) 104 & pl. 3, 23; Boston MFA 1433; SNG BnF 245; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Mysia -, VF, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 16.091 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos mint, c. 550 - 450 B.C.; obverse winged dog seated left, head turned back right, curved archaic wing, wearing collar, tunny fish below to left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; extremely rare; $6660.00 (5661.00)


Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

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The obverse legend abbreviates Consul Designatus, Iterum et Tertium, meaning Consul Elect for the second and third time. The reverse legend abbreviates Triumvir Reipublicae Constituendae, the title adopted in November of 43 B.C. by the three Caesarian leaders (Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus) when they formed the Second Triumvirate to oppose the tyrannicides Brutus and Cassius.
SH86609. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2202, Sydenham 1198, Crawford 263, RSC Octavia and M. Antony 3, Sear CRI 263, BMCRR East 135, SRCV I 1513, Choice gVF, toned, well centered, some die wear and rust, scratches, weight 11.723 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, summer - autumn 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT (Consul Elect for the 2nd and 3rd time), conjoined head of Antony and bust of Octavia right, Antony nearer and wreathed in ivy, Octavia draped; reverse Dionysus standing half left on cista mystica, in his right hand, thyrsus in his left hand, flanked by two interlaced snakes with heads erect, III VIR (triumvir) downward on left, R P C (Reipublicae Constituendae) upward on right; $3000.00 (2550.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reigns in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stacks sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2520.00 (2142.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron, c. 478 - 466 B.C.

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From the height of Syracuse preeminence amongst the Sicilian Greeks, shortly after the great victory over the Carthaginian invaders at Himera in 480 B.C.
SH86308. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series X, 229 (V102/R155); HGC 2, 1306; Bement 451; Jameson 744; McClean 2611 (all from the same dies)., gVF, well centered, toned, obverse struck with a worn die, some marks and scratches, weight 17.105 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 478 - 475 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by male charioteer holding goad, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣYP-AKO-ΣI-ON (beginning 3:30, 1st Σ reversed), head of Arethusa right, hair turned up behind under diadem of beads, wearing bead necklace, surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise; ex Numismatica Ars Classica auction 59 (4 Apr 2011), lot 1571; $1440.00 (1224.00)


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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The cistophorus was first struck by the Pergamene Kingdom was a tetradrachm (four-drachms coin) struck on a reduced Asian standard of about 3 grams per drachm. Its name was derived from the cista, a Dionysian cult snake basket that frequently appeared on the obverse. After the Pergamene Kingdom was bequeathed to Rome in 133 B.C., the Romans continued to strike cistophori for the Asia province, with a value equal to three denarii. The portrait of Augustus and later emperors replaced the cista on the obverse.
SH85434. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Sutherland Group VI, RPC I 2215, RIC I 479, RSC I 33, BnF I 922, BMCRE I 694, BMCRR East 262, SRCV I 1587, VF, full circles strike on a broad flan, light uneven toning, light encrustations, small closed edge crack, weight 11.660 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesus mint, c. 24 - 20 B.C.; obverse IMP CAE-SAR (counterclockwise below), bare head right, linear border; reverse garlanded and filleted altar of Diana (artemis, ornamented on the front with two hinds standing confronted, AVGVSTVS above; $1080.00 (918.00)


Kelenderis, Cilicia, c. 410 - 375 B.C.

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Kelenderis was a port town, one of the oldest in Cilicia, described in Hellenistic and Roman sources as a small, but strong castle. The rider on the obverse may be Castor, who was not only a horse trainer but also the protector of sailors, an appropriate type for a port town.
GS86211. Silver stater, Casabonne type 4; BMC Cilicia p. 55, 25 & pl. X, 3; cf. SNG BnF 75 (KEΛEN); Celenderis Hoard-; SNG Levante -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, aEF, attractive style, centered on a tight flan, die wear and minor die cracks, marks, weight 10.800 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 30o, Celenderis mint, c. 410 - 375 B.C.; obverse young man riding sideways on horse galloping right, preparing to dismount(?), nude, whip in right hand, bridle in left hand; reverse goat crouching left on dotted exergue line, head turned looking back right, KEΛ[E?] above; very rare late issue with rider right and goat left; $1080.00 (918.00)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire

SH87326. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, toned, light bumps and marks, slightly off center, weight 3.607 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 285o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); ex Ibercoin (Madrid), online sale 22 (27 Jun 2018), lot 228; $1080.00 (918.00)


Aspendos, Pamphylia, c. 465 - 420 B.C.

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In 467 B.C. the Athenian statesman and military commander Cimon, and his fleet of 200 ships, destroyed the Persian navy based at the mouth of the river Eurymedon in a surprise attack. In order to crush to Persian land forces, he tricked the Persians by sending his best fighters ashore wearing the garments of the hostages he had seized earlier. When they saw these men, the Persians thought that they were compatriots freed by the enemy and arranged festivities in celebration. Taking advantage of this, Cimon landed and annihilated the Persians. Aspendos then became a member of the Attic-Delos Maritime league.
SH87202. Silver stater, SNG BnF 13; SNGvA 4484 var. (turtle control symbol on obv. and rev.); BMC Pamphylia p. 94, 9 & pl. XIX,6; SNG Cop -, SNG Pfalzer -, VF, well centered, toned, bumps and marks, obverse struck with a very worn die, edge crack, weight 11.209 g, maximum diameter 21.53 mm, Aspendos mint, c. 465 - 420 B.C.; obverse warrior advancing right, wearing crested helmet, couched spear in right hand, round shield on left arm; reverse triskeles of human legs left, lion crouching left on far side, EΣT above, all within an incuse square; very rare; $800.00 (680.00)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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Representations of elephants occur frequently on Roman coins. Romans used elephants in war, in triumphs, in funerals, and in the amphitheater. For Romans, the elephant was a symbol for Africa, for eternity, and for honor. Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet) and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. Elephants were sometimes used to pull the chariots of the Caesars, in their triumphs or consular processions. When he returned to Rome, Julius Caesar ascended the Capitol illuminated by forty elephants bearing torches.
SH87287. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, gVF, nice elephant, light toning, off center, uneven strike, bumps and marks, areas of slight porosity, small filled die spots on ladle and sprinkler, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.803 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 75o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); $800.00 (680.00)


Luceria, Apulia, Italy, c. 211 - 200 B.C.

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In 321 B.C., the Romans, deceived into thinking Lucera was under siege by the Samnites, walked into an ambush and were defeated. The town threw out the Samnites, sought Roman protection, and in 320 B.C. was granted the status of Colonia Togata, which meant it was ruled by the Roman Senate. To strengthen ties, 2,500 Romans moved to Lucera. Roman culture merged with the native one slowly, probably accompanied by cross-cultural marriages, but Lucera was a steadfast supporter of Rome. By the 2nd century B.C., the rustic town was transformed into a proper Roman city with houses, public buildings, paved roads, sidewalks and services for travelers, accommodation for livestock with running water, and warehouses for storing goods.
GB86125. Bronze uncia, SNG ANS 709; SNG Cop 663; SNG BnF 1368; SNG Mnchen 504; HN Italy 682; BMC Italy p. 141, 62; Hunterian -, VF, rough, weight 4.084 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 0o, Luceria mint, c. 211 - 200 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, bow and quiver at shoulder, pellet behind; reverse LOVC-ERI, toad seen from above; very rare; $680.00 (578.00)




  



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Animals