Featured Coin

The Antony Loving Pirate

An AE25 of Tarkondimotos

Tarkondimotos was king of Cilicia known for being a pirate during the early to mid first century BC. Cilicia was a pretty wild place at the time with piracy very common. We are reminded that Caesar was taken by Cilician pirates on one occasion and so offended by the small ransom they asked for his return that he returned in force and crucified his former captors. At any time, Tarkondimotos associated himself as a client under whoever he deemed to be the most powerful Roman Imperator. Rome valued any assistance from this buffer region separating them from the Parthians. The problem is he was not overly skilled at picking the winning Roman to support. He started with Pompey but moved to Caesar when Pompey died only to see Caesar murdered. This spurred him to associate with Cassius famous as one of the leaders in the Caesar assassination. When Cassius committed suicide, Tarkondimotos pledged allegiance to Antony and fought for him at Actium in 31 BC. Tarkondimotos died in that battle but his surviving sons jumped ship to Octavian and remained in control of Cilicia until it was annexed by Rome in 17 BC

Sear 5682 RPC 3871

Our subject coin was issued by Tarkondimotos during his time with Antony and bears the title 'Antony Loving' at the bottom of the reverse under a seated figure of Zeus. Easily the most beautiful (OK, maybe he was most ugly?) coin of Tarkondimotos was sold by CNG and is shown on the Wikipedia page but I consider the coin defective since it has no trace of the Antony Loving legend which I consider most important in the story of the man lost at Actium. In fact, as this is being written, the CNG archive s shows thirteen of these coins of which only a few have even a trace of it due to poor centering or flattening by the anchor countermark applied on the obverse. I believe the countermark was applied intentionally to erase the potentially offensive legend probably on order of the sons who were then clients of Octavian. Of the coins I have seen, mine has the most complete legends. Second would go to a CNG coin with no countermark that sold for less than the others for reasons unclear to me. Mine would be considered defective for two major reasons. The countermark was placed higher on the coin than usual effectively ruining the chin of the pirate king. It was struck at a bit of an angle that nearly broke the flan leaving an huge and ugly crack. This crack allowed the lower flap of metal to move enough that the legend escaped erasure. This is a case where being very bad might be considered to be good. I would like my coin to have a well detailed portrait certainly including the chin but much more important is the fact that the Antony Loving legend is quite legible. These are not popular coins but this one is special enough to me to be the first new page added to my website in several years. I hope there will be more.

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(c) 2022 Doug Smith