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Roman Coins of the 3rd Century Crisis and Decline of the Roman Empire
Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Irenopolis-Neronias, Cilicia
Wandering the world in a panther-drawn chariot, Dionysos rode ahead of the maenads and satyrs, who sang loudly and danced, flushed with wine. They were profusely garlanded with ivy and held the thyrsus, a staff topped with a pine cone, a symbol of the immortality of his believers. Everywhere he went he taught men how to cultivate vines and the mysteries of his cult. Whoever stood in his way and refused to revere him was punished with madness.RP96990. Bronze 7 assaria, Karbach Eirenopolis - (cf. 146-7 same obv. die, diff. rev. type); Leu web auction 12 (2020), 870 (same dies); SNG Levante -; SNG Paris -; SNG PFPS -, aVF/F, green patina with earthen deposits, weight 12.523 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 225o, Irenopolis (Düzici, Turkey) mint, 258 - 259 A.D.; obverse ΠOY ΛIK Γ/θ>AΛIHNOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; uncertain round countermark; reverse IPHNOΠOΛE (or similar), Dionysos drinking with his entourage, standing facing, kantharos (wine cup) in his right hand, pedum (shepherd's crook) in his left hand, Pan on right supporting him, Satyr on left standing with outstretched right hand, panther seated left at feet on left, Z (mark of value) right; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 13 (15 Aug 2020), lot 921; the second known; $900.00 (€738.00)
Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Akko-Ptolemais, Phoenicia
Akko was refounded as a Roman colony, colonia Ptolemais, probably in 53 or 54 A.D., the last year of Claudius' reign or the first year of Nero’s. Akko was one of hundreds of cities in the Roman provinces that minted civic coins. In the mid 3rd century cities stopped producing their own coins. The last city coins were struck under Gallienus, and Akko was among the very last cities to strike its own coins.JD96394. Bronze AE 27, BMC Phoenicia p. 138, 50 var. (obv. leg.); Rosenberger 86 var. (same); Kadman Akko 256 var. (same, draped); Sofaer 293 ff. (draped, etc.); SNG Cop -, aF, rough green patina, light earthen deposits, a little off center, weight 13.158 g, maximum diameter 26.5 mm, die axis 0o, Ake Ptolemais (Acre, Israel) mint, 253 - 268 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES LIC GALLIEN[VS AVG], laureate head right; reverse COL P-TOL, portable shrine containing a statue of Zeus Heliopolites, shrine consisting of a frame within two pillars supporting a architrave with hatched decoration, two carrying poles projecting from bottom, figure of deity within standing facing on rock or base, wearing short chiton, double axe in right hand, harpe(?) in left hand; an unpublished variant of a very rare type; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection, 1977 surface find at Caesarea Maritima, Israel; $440.00 (€360.80)
Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Tyre, Phoenicia
Romans refounded Tyre as a colony in 64 B.C., when Pompey annexed Phoenicia to the Roman Empire. Tyre flourished under the Rome and remained a Roman port city, even under the Byzantine Empire, until the 7th century when it was taken by Muslim conquest.RP96396. Bronze dichalkon, BMC Phoenicia p. 289, 465 var. (murex shell on right); Rouvier -; Baramki AUB -; SNG Hunt -; SNG Cop -, F, rough dark green patina, earthen deposits, weight 16.345 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre (Lebanon) mint, Oct 253 - Jun 260 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, laureate bust right; reverse COL TVRO METR, river-god (Adonis?) standing facing, head left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right hand dropping incense on flaming altar at her feet on left, long grounded reed vertical in left hand, murex shell on left; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection, 1971 Caesarea Maritima surface find; Coin Archives records only one specimen of the type at auction in the last two decades; extremely rare; $400.00 (€328.00)
Trajan Decius, September 249 - June or July 251 A.D.
In 249, Trajan Decius put down a revolt in Moesia and Pannonia. After his legionaries proclaimed him emperor, he marched them to Verona, where he defeated and killed Philip the ArabRB97218. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 124a (S), Banti 22, Hunter III 54, Cohen V 87, SRCV III 9407, VF, green patina, well centered on a tight flan, old bump on nose, weight 15.768 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Jul 249 - Jun or Jul 251 A.D.; obverse IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, laureate, cuirassed, slight drapery on far shoulder, bust right; reverse PANNONIAE, the two Pannoniae standing facing, looking away from each other, each holding a standard, S - C (senatus consulto) across fields; $200.00 (€164.00)
Philip II, July or August 247 - Late 249 A.D., Zeugma, Commagene, Syria
Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.SL89808. Bronze AE 27, Butcher 31c; SNG Cop 35; BMC Galatia p. 128, 35; SGICV 4142, NGC Ch VF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4094544-007), weight 15.63 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma (Belkis, Turkey) mint, 247 - 249 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛI ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ZEYΓMATEΩN, tetrastyle temple with peribolos enclosing the sacred grove of trees, below Capricorn right; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins, NGC| Lookup; $180.00 (€147.60)
Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Ephesos, Ionia
Agonistic "urns" or "crowns" were awarded to winners at ancient Greek games, similar to modern trophies. They are called "crowns" because they may have been placed on the head of the victor.RP95365. Bronze AE 25, Karwiese 1131(a1) (O13/R95); SNG Munchen 260; SNG Hunterian XII 1749; SNG Cop 519; SNGvA 7889; SNG Tub -; BMC Ionia -, gVF, well centered on a broad flan, obverse die wear and minor die breaks, weight 6.759 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, Aug 253 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse AYT K ΠO ΛIKI ΓAΛΛIHNOC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse EΦECIΩN A D• NE•Ω•KOPΩN, agonistic urn (prize crown) containing palm fronds, band across the crown is marked EΦECIAI; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $160.00 (€131.20)
Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Isinda, Pisidia
Isinda stood in a strategic position at the western end of the pass leading from Pamphylia by Termessus to Pisidia. The coinage of Isinda indicates the city considered itself an Ionian colony.RP97734. Bronze assarion, SNG BnF 1622; SNG Pfalz 234; BMC Lycia p. 227, 21; SNG Hunterian -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -, aVF, dark brown patina, weight 8.444 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 180o, Isinda (Kisla, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AK ΠΛ OVAΛEPIANON CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ICIN-∆-EΩN, mother goddess seated right on a high backed throne, holding swaddled infant on her lap, coiled serpent rising up before her; ex Numismatica Ars Classica Auction 100 (29 May 2017), lot 1320; $150.00 (€123.00)
Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Antiocheia, Pisidia
Gordian III was the grandson of Gordian I and nephew of Gordian II. Made Caesar before the murders of Balbinus and Pupienus, he succeeded them. Little is known of his reign. He attacked Persia, gaining Mesopotamia. He died shortly after, through illness or plot of his Praetorian prefect and successor, Philip I.RP92552. Bronze AE 32, Krzyzanowska I/2; SNG Cop 72; SNGvA 8577; SNG Righetti 1346; BMC Lycia p. 189, 78; McClean 8959; Lindgren III 683; SNG BnF - (all same dies), F, toned copper surfaces, high points flatly struck, die damage on obverse at 2:00, central depressions, weight 25.090 g, maximum diameter 32.1 mm, die axis 210o, Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvac, Turkey) mint, 238 - 244 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ANTIOCHIA COLONIA CAESARIA, Aphrodite(?) seated right on throne, left hand on prow of galley, palm frond in right hand, Eros running left at foot, S R (Senatus Romanus) in exergue; from the Errett Bishop Collection, large 25 gram, 32 mm bronze; rare; $140.00 (€114.80)
Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.
Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.RB97216. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 337a, Cohen V 351, SRCV III 8741, Hunter III 155, Choice F, well centered, dark green patina, light earthen deposits, light scratches, edge cracks, weight 21.274 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 241 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AETER (eternal victory), Victory standing half left, head left, shield in right hand resting on captive seated left at feet on left, palm frond in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field below center; $140.00 (€114.80)
Gordian III and Tranquillina, May 241 - 25 February 244 A.D., Singara, Mesopotamia
NEW In 242 A.D., Gordian III, along with his praetorian prefect and father-in-law Timesitheus, began a campaign against the Sasanian king, Shahpur I. After freeing Syria, a decisive battle secured all of Mesopotamia, including Singara and Nisibis. But after Timesitheus died in 243 the Roman advance stalled and they suffered a major defeat. In February 244, Gordian died and Philip was proclaimed emperor. Philip negotiated a truce in order to return to Rome for his Senate confirmation.RY93161. Bronze AE 33, SNG Cop 257; SNG Righetti 2646; BMC Arabia p. 135, 8 - 13; Lindgren-Kovacs 2627, VF, well centered, porous, deposits on reverse, weight 24.340 g, maximum diameter 33.2 mm, die axis 0o, Singara (Sinjar, Iraq) mint, 243 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AVTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANON CAB TPANKVΛΛINA CEB, confronted busts of Gordian on left, laureate, draped, and cuirassed, and Tranquillina on right, draped and wearing stephane; reverse AVP CEΠ KOΛ CINΓAPA (Aurelia Septimia Colonia Singara), Tyche seated left on rock, wearing turreted crown, veil, mantle, and chiton, branch in right hand, left hand on rocks behind, half-length figure of river-god Mygdonius swimming left at her feet, Centaur Sagittarius shooting arrow left above; from the Errett Bishop Collection, big 33mm bronze!; $130.00 (€106.60)
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