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

Countermarked Ancient Greek 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.


Elaios, Thracian Chersonesos, c. 350 - 281 B.C.

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The city of Elaios in Thracian Chersonesos occupied a strategic position on what is now called the Gallipoli peninsula. In the ancient world, it was know for its sanctuary of the Trojan hero Protesilaos. Philostratos, writing of this sanctuary in the early third century A.D., speaks of a temple statue of Protesilaos standing on a base which was shaped like the prow of a boat. Of all the references listed in this coin's attribution, SNG Copenhagen is the only to list any coins of this rare city.
GB85370. Bronze AE 13, SNG Cop 898 (also same countermark); BMC Thrace -, Corpus Nummorum Thracorum -, SNG Tub -, SNG BM -, SNG Stancomb -, SNG Pushkin -, VF, well centered, highlighting earthen deposits, some marks, some corrosion, reverse slightly flattened by counter marking, weight 2.392 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Elaios mint, c. 350 - 281 B.C.; obverse veiled female head (Demeter?) right (wreathed in grain?); countermark: lion forepart right in an round punch; reverse bee upward, seen from above, EΛAIOY/ΣIΩN flanking in two upward lines first on left, ΠA monogram below; extremely rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
 


Ionia, Persian Satraps, c. 394 - 334 B.C.

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A. Johnston in "The Earliest Preserved Greek Map: A New Ionian Coin Type," in Journal of Hellenic Studies (1967) identified this reverse type as a relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos and presented aerial photographs of likely matching terrain.
GB85954. Bronze unit, Johnston Map 1 - 4; BMC Ionia p. 324, 8; Klein 366; Babelon Trait II p. 132, 79bis, pl. 89, 13, VF, dark patina, scratches, earthen deposits; c/m: VF, weight 2.594 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, Ephesos(?) mint, uncertain satrap, c. 350 - 334 B.C.; obverse Persian king in kneeling-running stance right, spear in right hand, bow in left hand, quiver over shoulder, BA behind; c/m: star with eight-point rays around a central pellet within incuse round punch; reverse irregular raised patterns within incuse square, believe to be a relief map of hinterland of Ephesos; rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Hierapolis, Phrygia in Homonoia with Sardis

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This coin commemorates the homonoia (alliance) between Phrygia and Sardis. Cities in Thrace and Asia minor sometimes formed alliances with other cities. The competition for prestige and rivalry between cities in the East was intense. Alliances could enhance a city’s status by aligning either with many cities or with particularly important ones. Homonoia was part of civic "foreign policy" and might have involved the exchange of delegates and joint celebrations and sacrifices. At least 87 cities issued homonoia coins celebrating their alliances.
RP77248. Bronze AE 28, Franke-Nolle, type VI, 857 (Vs.C/Rs.18); cf. SNGvA 3668; SNG Tubingen 4054; Lindgren III 596, VF, tight flan, obscure countermark on obverse, weight 9.924 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AY• K• - ΠOY• ΛIK• OYAΛEPAN/OC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front, round countermark on face; reverse IEPAΠOΛE/ITΩN - KE - CAP∆IANΩN, Apollo on left, standing right, plectrum in right hand, kithara in left hand; cult statue of Kore facing, wearing kalathos and veil, NEOKOPΩN downward in right field, OMONOYA in exergue; very rare; $240.00 SALE PRICE $216.00
 


Tetrarchy of Chalkis, Coele Syria, Ptolemaios, 85 - 40 B.C., Cleopatra Countermark

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When Aristobulus II was murdered by Pompey's party in Judaea (49 B.C.), his sons and daughters found protection with Ptolemaios (Ant. xiv. 7, § 4; B. J. i. 9, § 2). It may be that the national Jewish party at that time depended for support on the Itureans in Chalcis, and perhaps the following statement has reference to that fact: "On the 17th of Adar danger threatened the rest of the Soferim in the city of Chalcis, and it was salvation for Israel" (Meg. Ta'an. xii.).
CM85831. Bronze AE 19, Herman 7.c (same inscription var. & countermark); HGC 9 1441 (S) var. (inscription); BMC Galatia p. 279, 2 var. (same); Lindgren III 2130 var. (same), VF, centered on a tight flan; c/m: VF, weight 6.715 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Chalkis sub Libano mint, 85 - 40 B.C.; countermark: c. 36 - 30 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; countermark: bust of Cleopatra VII right in oval punch; reverse eagle flying right, NE monogram between wing and tail, ΠTOΛEMAIO / TETPAPXH / AXP (AX ligate) in three lines below; ex Sayles & Lavender; scarce; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Kingdom of Commagene, Julia Iotape, 38 - 72 A.D.

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Iotape was the daughter of Antiochus III and Iotapa, the king and queen of Commagene. Her parents were full-blooded siblings and direct descendants of the Seleucid kings. Iotapa and her brother Antiochus IV were very young when their father died in 17 A.D. Tiberius agreed with the citizens of Commagene to make their Kingdom a part of the Roman province of Syria. From 17 until 38, Iotapa and her brother were raised in Rome, members of the remarkable court of Antonia Minor. Antonia Minor was a niece of Augustus and the youngest daughter of Mark Antony. She was very influential and supervised her circle of various princes and princesses, assisting in the political preservation of the Empire’s borders, and the affairs of client states. In 38, Caligula returned Antiochus IV and Iotape to the throne of Commagene. In addition, Caligula enlarged their territory with a part of Cilicia bordering on the seacoast and gave them one million gold pieces, the total amount of revenue collected from Commagene during the twenty years that it had been under Syria. The reason for his extraordinary generosity is unknown. Perhaps it was just a stroke of Caligula's well-attested eccentricity. Iotapa and Antiochus IV married and had three children. Iotapa died before Commagene was annexed by Vespasian in 72. When she died, Antiochus IV founded a town called Iotapa in her honor (modern Aytap, Turkey).
GB84499. Bronze AE 26, Lindgren-Kovacs 1887 (same countermark); RPC I 3858; BMC Galatia p. 109, 4; Nercessian AC -; SNG Cop VII 5; countermark: Howgego 403 (after 69 A.D.), VF, straight edge flan, weight 15.289 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Samosata (site now flooded by the Atatürk Dam) mint, 66 - 72 B.C.; obverse BAΣIΛIΣΣA IΩTAΠH ΦIΛA∆EΛΦOΣ (of Queen Iotape Philadelphus), diademed and draped bust of Iotape to right, countermark: crossed cornucopias; reverse KOMMAΓ−HNΩN, scorpion and inscription all within laurel wreath; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; scarce; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI Eupator the Great, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Anonymous Coinage

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Mithradates VI Megas (the Great) was king of Pontus in northern Anatolia from about 119 to 63 B.C. He was of both Greek and Persian origin, claiming descent from both Alexander the Great and King Darius I of Persia. Mithradates is remembered as one of Rome's most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the most prominent generals of the late Roman Republic in the so-called Mithridatic Wars: Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey the Great. After Mithradates VI was at last defeated by Pompey and in danger of capture by Rome, he attempted suicide. The poison failed because he had taken daily doses to build immunity. He then made his bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, kill him by the sword.
GB84575. Bronze AE 26, cf. HGC 7 310 (S), SNG Stancomb 649, SNG BM 973, SNG Cop 232 (all SNG refs. with same countermarks, none with this monogram), gF, dark patina, thick heavy flan as usual for the type, bumps and marks, light corrosion, weight 19.920 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, uncertain (Amisos?) mint, c. 130 - 100 B.C.; obverse male head left in a satrapal leather bashlik cap; countermarks: helmet in round punch, gorgoneion in round punch, fulmen (thunderbolt) in a rectangular punch; reverse star of eight rays, bow facing inward, monogram between rays; scarce; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
 


Claudius, 25 January 41 - 13 October 54 A.D., Philippi, Macedonia, Countermark of Parium

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Philippi was founded by Philip II of Macedonia to control the neighboring gold mines and the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis. Philip constructed fortifications, sent colonists, and established a mint in the city. Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the assassins of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius, at the Battle of Philippi west of the city in October 42 B.C. They released some of their veterans to colonize the city, which was refounded as Colonia Victrix Philippensium. In 30 B.C., Octavian reorganized the colony with more Italian settlers, veterans possibly from the Praetorian Guard. The city was renamed Colonia Iulia Philippensis, and then Colonia Augusta Iulia Philippensis after January, 27 B.C., when Octavian received the title Augustus from the Roman Senate.
RP85361. Bronze semis, RPC I 1660 (21 spec.); BMC Macedonia p., 93 (with c/m); SNG Cop 285 (same); McClean 7662; c/m: Howgego 303 (Parium), F, c/m: F; toned coppery surfaces, porous, somewhat irregular flan with edge cracks, weight 3.772 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Philippi (near Filippoi, Greece) mint, 25 Jan 41 - 13 Oct 54 A.D.; obverse TI CLAV, bare head of Claudius left; countermark: Capricorn left in a rectangular punch; reverse Priest and yoke of two oxen plowing right; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00 ON RESERVE


Kings of Cilicia, Tarkondimotos, c. 39 - 31 B.C.

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Tarkondimotos was made dynast by Pompey and crowned king by Marc Antony. He died at the Battle of Actium. The anchor countermark, frequently used in an earlier era by Seleukid kings, is almost certainly post-Actium, perhaps from Antioch.
GB75283. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 3871, SGCV II 5682, BMC Lycaonia p. 237, 1 ff., F/aF, green patina, weight 8.040 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 0o, Hieropolis mint, c. 39 - 31 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, countermark: anchor in oval punch; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / TAPKON∆IMO/TOY, Zeus enthroned half left, himation around hips and legs with end over shoulder, Nike offering wreath extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, ΦIΛANT exergue; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77252. Bronze AE 26, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, aF, broad flan, small edge crack; countermark: gF, weight 5.595 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 221 - 268 A.D.

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The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77253. Bronze AE 24, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Hunt -; Waddington 6128; Weber -; McClean -; c/m: Howgego 278, F, well centered, edge crack, punch or flan flaw on the reverse; countermark: F, weight 5.388 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; $75.00 SALE PRICE $67.50
 




  



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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).
Bauslaugh, R. "Cistophoric Countermarks and the Monetary System of Eumenes II" in NC 1990.
Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Davesne, A. "Une contremarque au trident sur certaines monnaies de Ptolémée II Philadelphe" in BSFN 42/2 (Feb. 1987), pp. 145-149.
Elayi, J. & A. Lemaire. Graffiti et contremarques ouest-sémitiques sur les monnaies grecques et proche-orientales. Glaux 13. (Milan, 1998).
Howgego, C.J. Greek Imperial Countermarks. RNS, Special Publication No. 17. (London, 1985).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, PA, 2007).
Martini, R. Nomismata 6: The Pangerl Collection Catalog and Commentary on the Countermarked Roman Imperial Coins. (Milan, 2003).
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. Gegenstempel auf Reichs - und Provinzialprägungen der römischen Kaiserzeit - Katalog der Sammlung Dr. Konrad Bech, Mainz. (Speyer, 2004).

Catalog current as of Friday, November 24, 2017.
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Greek Countermarked