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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.


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D., Cyzicus, Mysia

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This is the finest of only two specimens of this type known to Forum, the other example in SNG Von Aulock. Although we can't quite agree, NAC graded it extremely fine.
RP86162. Bronze AE 26, SNGvA suppl. 7377, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNG Tbingen -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG Righetti -, SNG Leypold -, BMC Mysia -, McClean -, Mionnet -, gVF, nice dark green patina, marks, small patina chips, reverse slightly off center, weight 10.976 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 180o, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 194 - 217 A.D.; obverse IOYΛIA CEBACTH, draped bust right; reverse KYZIKHNΩN NEOKOPΩN, man sitting right on rocks under a tree, milking goat standing right, goat's head turned back looking left; ex Numismatica Ars Classica auction 100 (29 May 2017), lot 1212; ex Gorny & Mosch sale 237 (7 Mar 2016), 1656; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 34 (2 Aug 2015), lot 581; extremely rare; $1500.00 (1275.00)


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 Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished; Houghton-Lorber I 165(1) var.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 (765.00)


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 (459.00)


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; $500.00 (425.00)


Macedonia, Under Roman Rule, Quaestor Aesillas, 95 - 70 B.C.

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This type was apparently intended to encourage Macedonian pride by portraying the legendary national hero of the Macedonians, and at the same time clearly communicate Roman authority with name and symbols of the Roman quaestor.
RP85676. Silver tetradrachm, Bauslaugh group VI (O35), AMNG III 223, SNG Cop 1330, SNG Ashmolean 3305, SGCV I 1439, VF, attractive toning, well centered, light marks, weight 16.433 g, maximum diameter 29.2 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, 95 - 70 B.C.; obverse head of Alexander the Great right with horn of Ammon and flowing hair, Θ behind, MAKE∆ONΩN below; reverse AESILLAS above money-chest (cista), club, and Q over quaestor's chair (sella curulis), all within laurel wreath, no pellets; ex Nomos Obolos 6 (20 Nov 2016), lot 339 (Nomos noted, from a European collection, formed before 2000); $380.00 (323.00)


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 (306.00)


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, hair in horizontal ridges, looped plait below ear and on neck; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEITΩN, galley left with four oarsmen and steersman in stern; very rare; $360.00 (306.00)


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 (246.50)


Judaea, Bar Kochba Revolt, 132 - 135 A.D.

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In 134, the Romans captured Jerusalem. Simon bar Kokhba was killed in 135, at Betar, a fortress where he had taken refuge. Jerusalem, largely destroyed, was renamed Colonia Aelia Capitolina. Legio VI Ferrata rebuilt the legionary fortress in the city and constructed a Roman temple at Golgotha. An altar to Jupiter was erected on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. Although, resistance continued in Galilee, the Jewish diaspora began as Emperor Hadrian barred Jews from Jerusalem and had survivors of the massacre dispersed across the Roman Empire. Many were sold into slavery. The Jews remained scattered without a homeland for close to two millennia.
JD84994. Bronze AE 26, Mildenberg 77; SNG ANS 530; BMC Palestine p. 307, 38; Hendin 1408a; Meshorer TJC 259b, F, uneven strike, small edge crack, porous, weight 7.954 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 180o, year 2 (133 - 134 A.D.); obverse seven branched palm tree with two bunches of dates, Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Shimon" flanking trunk; reverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Year 2 of the freedom of Israel", five-lobed vine-leaf, hanging from tendril; $250.00 (212.50)


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, 51 - 30 B.C.

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Cleopatra VII originally shared power with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brother-husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Her relationship with Julius Caesar led to sole rule. After Caesar's assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony. Her reign marks the end of the Hellenistic Era and the beginning of the Roman Era. She was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
GI85343. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 1872; Weiser 184; SNG Cop 422; BMC Alexandria p. 123, 5; Noeske 383; Sear CRI 949, aF, bumps, scratches, corrosion, flan crack, weight 8.383 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 51 - 30 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust of Cleopatra right, characteristic melon coif; reverse KΛEOΠATPAΣ BACIΛICCHC, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, head left, cornucopia left, M (40 drachms = hemiobol) right; $250.00 (212.50)




  



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