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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Roman CountermarkedView Options:  |  |  | 

Countermarked Imperial Roman and Roman Provincial Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


Jerusalem, Judaea, Legio X Fretensis Countermarks, c. 68 - 132 A.D.

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The boar and the galley were emblems of the tenth legion Fretensis. In 66 A.D., Legion X Fretensis moved to Judaea to suppress the revolt. In 68, the Xth destroyed the monastery of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls originated. In 70, the Xth camped on the Mount of Olives and used war machines to hurl 25 kg stones 400 meters at the ramparts of besieged Jerusalem. After a five-month siege and the horrors of starvation, the city was taken and then completely destroyed. In the autumn of 72, the Xth, auxiliary troops, and thousands of Jewish prisoners erected a wall of circumvallation around Masada, the last Jewish stronghold. The Jewish defenders chose mass suicide before the final assault. After the revolt, the Xth was the sole legion in Judaea and garrisoned at Jerusalem. X Fretensis is recorded to have existed at least until the 410s.Legion X Camp
CM84114. Bronze AE 25, Hendin 1609; Rosenberger III p. 54, 5; Sofaer Collection p. 284, 1; c/m: Howgego 291 (boar on dolphin, 19 pcs.), Howgego 410 (galley, 15 pcs.), Coin Poor, Countermarks Fine, rough, corrosion, weight 10.962 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, obverse Flavian bust right; reverse countermarks: (1) galley right in c. 8 mm x 4 mm rectangular punch, Howgego 410 (15 pcs); and (2) L•X•F (Legion X Fretensis) over boar right standing on a dolphin right in c. 12 mm x 9 mm rectangular punch, Howgego 291 (19 pcs); rare; $400.00 (€356.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.; Perinthus, Thrace; Galba Countermark

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All the Latin coins of Perinthus are rare. BMC does not list Perinthus mint, but identifies this type as "barbarous." RIC notes the existence of Balkan sestertii, dupondii, and asses but does not catalog them.

RPC attributes the countermark to Nicaea, Bithynia.
RS77050. Bronze as, Mac Dowall CM pl. VII, RPC I 1762, BMCRE I 391 var. (barbarous); c/m: Martini 92, RPC I p. 345 (Nicaea, Bithynia, Apr 68 - Jan 69), VF, c/m: VF, dark blue-green patina, weight 9.665 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Heraclea Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, mid 66 - 9 Jun 68 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM IMP, laureate head right, countermark: ΓAΛBA in a rectangular punch; reverse eagle standing facing on ovoid globe, wings open, head right, S - C divided across field above center; rare; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Municipal Coinage, Fall 48 - Spring 47 B.C.

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The countermark is similar to a group of countermarks from Antioch, Chalkis, Laodicaea, Seleukia, and Damascus, all cities controlled by Cleopatra (except for Antioch, which nevertheless appears to have issued coins for Antony and Cleopatra). Richard McAlee notes, "it now seems likely that the countermark portrays Cleopatra, and was used to mark coins circulating in the Syro-Phoenician territories which were given to her by Mark Antony." Older references identified the head as Apollo.
RY84165. Bronze AE 23, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, tight flan, weight 11.436 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 48 - 47 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, countermark: head right (Cleopatra?) in an oval punch; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, Zeus seated left holding Nike and scepter, date IΘ below; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


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

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This coin was struck for Augustus at the Rome mint in 7 A.D under the supervision of the triumvir monetales P. Lurius Agrippa. This countermark is found on coin types struck beginning as late as 23 A.D. and one example is overstruck with a TIB IM (Tiberius Imperator) countermark. From these examples we can conclude the countermark was applied during the reign of Tiberius, between 23 A.D. and Mar 37 A.D. Pangerl attributes this countermark to Germania Inferior. Pangerl also lists an unofficial imitative countermark of this type.
CM84115. Bronze as, BnF I 624 (same countermark on obv.), BMCRE I 213 (c/m on rev.), RIC I 427, Hunter I 90; countermark: Pangerl 43c (same coin type, c/m on obv), coin Fair, countermark VF, weight 10.061 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 7 A.D.; obverse CAESAR AVGVST PONT MAX TRIBVNIC POT, Bare head right, countermark: CAESAR ligature in a c. 12 mm x 9 mm rectangular punch (Pangerl 43c); reverse P LVRIVS AGRIPPA IIIVIR AAAFF, legend around large S C; $90.00 (€80.10)
 







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REFERENCES

Baker, R. "The Countermarks Found on Ancient Roman Coins: A Brief Introduction" in SAN XV (1984). pp. 52-58.
Barag, D. "The countermarks of the Legio Decima Fretensis" in Kindler Patterns. (Tel-Aviv, 1967).
Barag, D. & S. Qedar. "A Countermark of the Legio Quinta Scytica from the Jewish War" in INJ 13 (1994).
Howgego, C.J. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
Mac Dowall, D.W. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68." in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Seyrig, H. "Monnaies contremarquées en Syrie," in Syria 35 (1958), pp. 187-197.
Topalov, S.A. New Contributions to the Study of the Countermarking of Coins in the Area of the West Pontic Cities, 3rd - 1st c. B.C. (Sofia, 2002).
Werz, U. "Die Gegenstempel von Kalkriese und der Münzumlauf in frühtiberischer Zeit in der Germania inferior und superior" in Wiegels, p. 237 - 252.
Werz, U. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

Catalog current as of Friday, February 24, 2017.
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Countermarked Roman Coins