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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Types| ▸ |Sculpture||View Options:  |  |  |   

Sculpture on Ancient Coins

Many of the images of gods and goddesses on ancient coins were derived from sculptures. The coins on this page depict known sculptures or images that are clearly taken from sculpture.

Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

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A gilded 2nd century B.C. slightly over-lifesize bronze statue, Hercules of the Forum Boarium, has Hercules in a similar pose. This statue is probably the one mentioned by Pliny, which originally stood in the Temple of Hercules Victor, by the Tiber. It lacks the lion skin. Perhaps a actual lion skin was once draped on it. The sculpture is now in the Musei Capitolini, Rome. Another similar sculpture, from the 2nd Century A.D., the Hercules of the Theatre of Pompey, was discovered in 1864, carefully buried under protective tiles. It was incised FCS (fulgor conditum summanium), indicating that it had been struck by lightning, and had been carefully interred on the spot. The figure lightly supports himself on his grounded vertical club, the skin of the Nemean Lion is draped over his left forearm. This sculpture is now in the round room area of Museo Pio-Clementino, in the Vatican.Hercules_Sculptures
SH32111. Gold aureus, Woytek 72b, RIC II 37, Caliců 1053a, BMCRE III 58 var. (aegis), BnF 75 var. (no drapery), Cohen 215 var. (same), SRCV II 3095 var. (same), VF, scrape on cheek, scratches, weight 7.347 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, Jan/Feb 100 - Oct 100 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES NERVA TRAIAN AVG GERM, laureate bust right, hint of drapery on far shoulder; reverse P M TR P COS III P P, statue of Hercules standing facing on low base, nude except for lion skin draped over shoulders and left arm, club downward in right hand, apples of Hesperides in his left hand; SOLD

Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

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The heifer depicted on this coin represents one of the famous works of Athenian 5th century B.C. sculptor Myron, considered by the ancients to be one of the finest artists. After Actium, Octavian shipped four sculptures to Rome to decorate his new temple of Apollo. To commemorate the event, gold and silver coins (of outstanding hellenistic style) were struck. After the great reconstruction of Rome, Vespasian relocated the heifers to the temple of Pax, where they were still standing in the time of historian Procopius.
SH42155. Gold aureus, RIC II-1 842; BMCRE I 178; SRCV I -, aVF, weight 7.033 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 76 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head left; reverse COS VII, heifer right; ex Ponterio; SOLD

Macedonian Kingdom, Demetrius I Poliorketes, 306 - 283 B.C.

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This type was issued in preparation for Demetrios' invasion of Asia Minor. Demetrios was defeated, imprisoned by Seleukos and died in captivity in 283 B.C. The bull's horns suggest his relationship to Poseidon is the same as Alexander's to Zeus Ammon. The portrait is individualized, but evokes the image of Alexander. Demetrios was the first to assimilate elements of Alexander's deified portrait and the first living ruler to portray himself as a god on coins. --
SH75316. Silver tetradrachm, Newell p. 97, 91 and pl. VIII, 12, SNG Cop 1179 var., gVF, superb portrait, tight flan, a few marks, weight 17.018 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 15o, Macedonia, Pella mint, c. 289 - fall 288 B.C.; obverse Demetrios diademed head right with horns of a bull, the animal sacred to Demetrios' patron deity, Poseidon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ∆HMHTPIOY, Poseidon standing left, right foot on rock, trident in left (apparently inspired by the Lateran Poseidon, a statue by Lysippos, court sculptor of Alexander), KE monogram left, H right; ex Forum (2007), ex Harlan Berk; SOLD

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The Lost Arch of Nero. This arch is undoubtedly the one that Tacitus says was voted to Nero for Corbulo's victory in Armenia in 58, and that he further reports was being constructed "in the middle of the Capitoline Hill" in 62, despite a successful invasion of Armenia by the Parthians in that year. No traces of the arch have ever been found. The arch was completely destroyed either shortly after Nero's death with the damnatio memoriae Nero received when the senate proclaimed him an enemy of the state, or in one of the two fires that consumed the Capitoline hill in 69 and 80
SH73161. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 392, BMCRE I 329, BnF II 77, Cohen I 307, Mac Dowall WCN 410, Choice gVF, superb portrait, excellent detail in arch ornamentation, weight 25.245 g, maximum diameter 34.8 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER PM TR P IMP P P, laureate head right, globe at point of bust; reverse triumphal arch; surmounted by statue of Nero in a facing quadriga, led by Pax on left and Victory on right, and flanked below by two soldiers; front ornamented with statue of Mars in a niche and bas-reliefs of small figures; garland hanging in arch; SOLD

Caligula, 16 Mar 37 - 24 Jan 41 A.D., Nero and Drusus Caesars on Obverse

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This type was issued by Caligula for his two deceased brothers, Nero Julius Caesar and Drusus Julius Caesar Germanicus. Nero Caesar was Tiberius' oldest adoptive grandson and was the emperor's most obvious successor until 29 A.D. when he was accused of treason along with his mother, Agrippina the Elder. He was exiled to the island of Ponza where he was either induced to commit suicide or starved to death before October 31. In 30, his brother Drusus Caesar was also accused of treason and exiled and imprisoned. He starved to death in prison in 33, reduced to chewing the stuffing of his bed. In Suetonius', The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Claudius IX we learn that Caligula ordered his uncle and co-consul Claudius to commission statues of his deceased elder brothers. The statues appear on dupondii, immortalized in a pose recognizable as the Dioscuri. The marble statue in the photo right was found in or near Rome during the fifteenth century, and is now in the British Museum. The pose differs from the image on the coins but restorations include the youthís arms and three of the horseís legs. Is it one of the two statues commissioned by Claudius? Click the photo to see additional photos and information.Marble Sculpture
RB91358. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC I Gaius 34 (S), BMCRE I Gaius 44, Cohen I Nero et Drusus 1, BnF I Gaius 52, Hunter I Gaius 18, SRCV I -, gVF, centered on a full and heavy flan, green and red-brown patina, scattered light porosity, smoothing and cleaning marks, weight 16.011 g, maximum diameter 29.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 40 - 41 A.D.; obverse NERO ET DRVSVS CAESARES, Nero Julius Caesar and Drusus Julius Caesar Germanicus riding right, cloaks flying behind them; reverse C CAESAR DIVI AVG PRON AVG P M TR P IIII P P, legend around large S C; ex CNG e-auction 437 (6 Feb 2019), lot 398; rare; SOLD

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

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Reverse legend stands for IOVI TONANTIS, Jupiter the thunderer.
SH16774. Silver denarius, RIC I 64, Hu. 154, VF, weight 3.787 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 180o, Colonia Patricia (Cordoba, Spain) mint, 19 B.C.; obverse CAESAR AVGVSTVS, bare head left; reverse IOV TON, hexastyle temple containing statue of Jupiter standing left, holding scepter and thunder; bankers mark; very rare (RIC R3); SOLD

Roman Republic, L. Mussidius Longus, 42 B.C.

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The platform depicted still exists on the north side of the Forum.
SH28129. Silver denarius, RSC I Mussidia 7, Sydenham 1094, Crawford 494/43, SRCV I 495, EF, toned, nice style, weight 3.868 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 270o, Rome mint, 42 B.C; obverse radiate and draped bust of Sol facing slightly right; reverse L MVSSIDIVS LONGVS above platform, inscribed CLOACIN, on which two statues of Venus Cloacina; ex CNG; scarce; SOLD

Knossos, Crete, c. 330 - 300 B

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SH35118. Silver drachm, BMC Crete p. 21, 26; SNG Cop 374, Fair, rough cleaning, weight 3.172 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Knossos mint, obverse head of Hera left, wearing stephane; reverse square labyrinth with entrance; rare; SOLD

Herakleia, Lucania, Italy, c. 281 - 278 B.C.

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SH30353. Silver nomos, SNG ANS 79 (same dies), HN Italy 1385, nice VF, weight 7.695 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 135o, Herakleia mint, obverse HPAKΛHIΩN, head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmeted decorated with Skylla hurling stone; reverse Herakles standing left, club in right hand, bow in left, Nemean lion skin draped over left arm, [APIΣ] (magistrate) off flan left; SOLD

Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

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"The celebrated Trajan's Column, commemorating the emperor's victories in the Dacian wars and still a prominent landmark of modern Rome, was dedicated on 12 May A.D. 113." -- Roman Coins and Their Values by David R. Sear
SH46938. Silver denarius, Woytek 425v2, RIC II 292, RSC II 558, BMCRE III 452, BnF IV 745, Hunter II 153, Strack I 197, SRCV II 3106, Choice EF, weight 3.267 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, spring - 9 Aug 114 A.D.; obverse IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate, draped bust right; reverse S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Trajan's Column; Trajan's statue on top, standing left, right extended, spear in left; spirals on column indicate the relief narrating the Dacian wars; two-tiered base, with two sculptures of eagles on garlanded upper tier, door in the lower tier; SOLD


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