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

Collecting History through Ancient Coins

Holding an ancient coin is holding history in your hands. Some coins actually depict historical events. Many include the image of a historic king or emperor. Every ancient coin relates to the people and events of the time and place it was struck. Every ancient coin relates to an interesting historical story. The stories on this page are a primary source of our ancient coin obsession. We hope you enjoy them.


Byzantine Empire, Constantine VI and Irene, 8 September 780 - 19 August 797 A.D.

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In 790, Constantine VI took control and forced his mother, who had been his regent, into exile. A little more than a year later Irene was back as co-ruler. In 797, Irene had her son deposed and blinded and assumed sole rule.

Feg has the obverse and reverse opposite. Other than Feg 4.7, the referenced examples all have either incomplete or illegible inscriptions, or have variations from this coin.
SH12347. Gold solidus, Feg 4.7 (C.4.6/Ir.4.1); cf. Wroth BMC 1; DOC III, part 1, 2; Morrisson BnF 2, Tolstoi 1; SBCV 1591; Sommer -; Ratto -, VF, remarkable for complete inscriptions, light marks, weight 4.413 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople mint, 15 Jan 792 - 793; obverse COnSTAnTInOS CA - SIR, crowned facing busts of Constantine IV, wearing chlamys and holding globus cruciger in left hand; and Irene, wearing loros, cruciform scepter in her right hand; cross above center; reverse SVn IrInI AVΓ mITHRΛ, Constantine V, Leo III, and Leo IV (the boy emperor's deceased father, grand-father and great grandfather) seated facing, each bearded and wearing crown and chlamys; ex Forum 2014; ex Numismatik Lanz (eBay auction, 4 Feb 2011, sold for €3027); rare; $2250.00 (2002.50)


Caligula, 16 March 37 - 24 January 41 A.D.

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The first Rome mint portrait sestertius type, and a highly sought after reverse type.
SH84794. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 33; BMCRE p. 152, 36; BnF II 47; Cohen I 4; SRCV I 1800, gF, excellent centering and strike, attractive portrait, patina worn and scraped on high points, bumps and scratches, weight 27.881 g, maximum diameter 35.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse AGRIPPINA DRVSILLA IVLIA, the three sisters of Caligula standing, in the guises of Securitas, Concordia, and Fortuna, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; rare; $2000.00 (1780.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH76216. Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished; Houghton-Lorber I 165(1) var. (controls), cf. Houghton-Lorber I 169(a) (hemidrachm), VF, very high relief, well centered, bumps and marks, head of Zeus flatly struck, weight 17.143 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 90o, Susa (Shush, Iran) mint, c. 295 - 291 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Zeus enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg forward, feet on footstool, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, radiate bust of Helios facing (control symbol) on left, AP (primary control) under throne above strut, ΠA (secondary control) monogram under strut; extremely rare, possibly unique - the only example known to Forum; $900.00 (801.00)


Plotina, Augusta 105 - 129 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
SH79967. Bronze AE 24, RPC Online III 645, SNG Evelpidis 1170, Lindgren 980, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, BMC Macedonia -, Varbanov -, F, green patina, pitting, weight 9.487 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 105 - 129 A.D.; obverse CEBACTH ΠΛWTEINA, draped bust right; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left, patera in right hand; very rare; $560.00 (498.40)


Sabina, Augusta 128 - c. 136 A.D., Wife of Hadrian

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Pudicitia, modesty and chastity, was for Romans the highest regarded female virtue. For an unmarried girl, pudicitia meant virginity. For a wife, it meant faithfulness and devotion to her husband. Romans loved the story of Arria, an ultimate example of Roman pudicitia. When the emperor Claudius ordered her husband Paetus to end his own life, he hesitated. Arria took his dagger and stabbed herself to set an example, saying, "Paetus, it doesn't hurt."
SH73695. Bronze sestertius, RIC II Hadrian 1032(c) (S), Hunter II 32, Cohen II 61, BMCRE III Hadrian 1877 var. (diadem vice wreath), SRCV II 3937, aVF, excellent portrait, well centered, green patina, marks and scratches, some corrosion, weight 23.691 g, maximum diameter 33.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 135 A.D.; obverse SABINA AVGVSTA HADRIANI AVG P P, draped bust right, wearing wreath of grain, hair in long plait falling down back of neck and roll above wreath in front; reverse PVDICITIA, Pudicitia seated left on high-backed throne, veiled and draped, feet on footstool, right hand on breast (raising to lips), left hand in lap, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; old anonymous dealer or collector tag in Italian; scarce; $540.00 (480.60)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D., Hadrianopolis, Thrace

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Hadrian refounded a Thracian tribal capital, changed its name to Hadrianopolis, developed it, adorned it with monuments, and made it the capital of the Roman province. The city is Edirne, Turkey today. From ancient times, the area around Edirne has been the site of no fewer than 16 major battles or sieges. Military historian John Keegan identifies it as "the most contested spot on the globe" and attributes this to its geographical location. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine I in 323, and Valens was killed by the Goths during the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
SH65237. Bronze AE 25, Jurukova p. 157 & pl. XXII, 244 (V137/R244); Mionnet, Suppl. II, 658; BMC Thrace -, SNG Cop -, SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, weight 7.837 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, Hadrianopolis (Edirne, Turkey) mint, obverse IOYΛIA ∆O CEBACTH, draped bust right; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEITΩN, galley left with four oarsmen and steersman in stern; very rare; $400.00 (356.00)


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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In Roman religion, Concordia was the goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony. The cult of Concordia Augusta ("Majestic Harmony") was of special importance to the imperial household. She is usually depicted wearing a long cloak and holding a patera (sacrificial bowl), a cornucopia (symbol of prosperity), or a caduceus (symbol of peace).
RB26685. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III AP1368, BMCRE IV AP2198, Hunter II 50, Cohen III 22, SRCV II 4710, VF, weight 19.689 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, struck under Antoninus Pius, 157 - 161 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair wavy and drawn back into coil at back; reverse AVGVSTI PII FIL (daughter of the pius emperor), Concordia standing left, patera in extended right, cornucopia in left hand, S - C across field below center; $360.00 (320.40)


Galba, 3 April 68 - 15 January 69 A.D.

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Livia was the wife of Augustus, mother of Tiberius, paternal grandmother of Claudius, paternal great-grandmother of Caligula, and maternal great-great-grandmother of Nero. "Suetonius records that in his youth Galba was a favourite of Livia through whose patronage he moved in the most elevated social circles of the Julio-Claudian era." - David Sear in Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol I.
RS85539. Silver denarius, RIC I 189 (R), RSC II 55a, BMCRE I 6, Hunter I 7 var. (no drapery), BnF III 83 var. (same), SRCV I -, F, toned, nice portrait for the grade, light marks and scratches, tight flan cutting off top of some legend letters, weight 3.148 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jul 68 - Jan 69 A.D.; obverse IMP SER GALBA CAESAR AVG, laureate head right; reverse DIVA AVGVSTA, Livia standing left, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; from the Lucas Harsh collection; ex ACCG auction IV (13 Oct 2011), lot 59; ex Apollo Numismatics; rare; $330.00 (293.70)


Sabina, Augusta 128 - c. 136 A.D., Wife of Hadrian, Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Plotina was the wife of Trajan, married to him before his succession. She was renowned for her virtue and simplicity. In 100, Trajan awarded her with the title of Augusta, but she did not accept the title until 105. Plotina did not appear on the coinage until 112. She was largely responsible for Hadrian's succession to the throne after the death of Trajan. Plotina died in 129 A.D.
RP83496. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online III 655 (8 spec.); BMC Macedonia p. 56, 103; Varbanov 3186 (R5); SNG Evelpidis 1171; Lindgren 987; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Hunterian -, VF, green patina, tight flan, some corrosion and scratches, reverse off center, centration dimples, weight 12.382 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 128 - c. 136 A.D.; obverse CABEINA CEBACTH, draped bust right wearing stephane, pellet within crescent with horns up left below chin; reverse AMΦIΠOΛTWN, Tyche seated left on high back throne, wearing turreted crown, patera in right hand; rare; $290.00 (258.10)


Crispina, Wife of Commodus, Augusta 178 - 182 A.D., Retrograde Reverse!

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There are no breaks in the plating and the interior of the edge cracks is dark black. The style is extraordinarily similar to the official Rome mint, but this must be the plated work of an ancient counterfeiter?!
RS85201. Silver denarius, perhaps plated(?); apparently unpublished, cf. RIC III 283 (S), RSC II 21, BMCRE IV 41, SRCV II 6001 (all normal, not retrograde, reverses), VF, light marks and scratches, light corrosion, tiny edge cracks, no sign of a bronze core, weight 3.254 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome (or counterfeiter?) mint, 180 - 182 A.D. (or later?); obverse CRISPINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; reverse IVNO (retrograde starting at 3:00), Juno standing facing, veiled, head right, patera in left hand, long scepter in left right, peacock right at feet on right (the entire reverse is retrograde); extremely rare, possibly unique, retrograde reverse!; $280.00 (249.20)




  



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