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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Quality ▸ Eye AppealView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coin Eye Appeal

The most important factor in determining the price of a coin is eye appeal. One coin of the exact same type as another can be priced ten times higher or more. So, what is this eye appeal?

It is beauty. . . It is classical fine art. . . It is a masterpiece portrait. . . It is sculptural high relief. . . It is a choice strike. . . It is a gem patina. . . It is Celtic abstraction. . .

It is . . . on this page!


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

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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; $5200.00 (4420.00)


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

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This is the rarest Otho denarius type and one of the rarest 1st century Roman denarii. Only two museums, Paris and ANS, hold examples. A further specimen was found in archeological context in Denmark in 1990s. Besides these, four additional specimens are known. This coin has the best portrait and is clearly the most attractive of the seven known. Jyrki Muona obtained it in 2002 at the NYINC from Glenn Woods.

Otho minted three separate issues. The first and second issues followed Galba's standard of 90% silver. Otho's third issue was debased to 80% silver. All coins of the third issue share the reverse legend PONT MAX, perhaps to make it easy to distinguish the debased coins. One might think our rare coin is a reverse legend error for Otho's third issue, PONT MAX Ceres type. However, as Butcher et al. have shown, this is not the case. If CERES AVG was a simple reverse legend error, the flan would be 80% silver. This CERES AVG type was struck in a second issue of 90% silver flans, probably during planning for the third issue, and perhaps only for testing. The type was apparently not distributed, and was withdrawn, and melted when it was decided to debase the coinage and use the PONT MAX legend. It appears a small number were released, most likely by mistake.
RS85563. Silver denarius, Muona Otho 10b; Butcher-Ponting-Muona 6; ANSCD 1958.217.1; BnF III 1; RIC I 1 (R3, 7 spec. known, all minted with the same die-pair), Nice VF, the best portrait and most attractive of the seven known specimens, light rose toning, a few light marks and spots of porosity, weight 3.272 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TRP, bare head right; reverse CERES AVG, Ceres standing left, grain-ears raised in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; rarest Otho denarius type; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Glenn Woods (NYINC, 2002); $5000.00 (4250.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Deinomenid Tyranny, Time of Hieron I, c. 475-470 B.C.

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From the height of Syracuse preeminence amongst the Sicilian Greeks, shortly after the great victory over the Carthaginian invaders at Himera in 480 B.C.
SH86273. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer 332 (V164/R232); Randazzo 504 (same dies); SNG ANS -, aEF, superb style, centered on a tight flan, attractive toning, some light marks, weight 17.315 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 485 - 479 B.C.; obverse charioteer walking slow quadriga right, kentron in right hand, reins in left hand, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, Head of Arethusa right, wearing earring, beaded necklace and beaded diadem, her hair tied in a krobylos, surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise; ex Roma Numismatics, auction 6 (29 Sep 2013), lot 439; ex Comery Collection; $3500.00 (2975.00)


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

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The wreath on the reverse is the corona civica, the oak wreath awarded to Roman citizens ex senatus consulto (by special decree of the Senate) for saving the life of another citizen by slaying an enemy in battle. It became a prerogative for Roman emperors to be awarded the Civic Crown, originating with Augustus, who was awarded it in 27 B.C. for saving the lives of citizens by ending the series of civil wars.
SH86121. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 37, BMCRE I 38, Cohen I 24, BnF II 50, Hunter I 15, SRCV I -, Choice VF, Tiber patina, centered and struck, attractive young portrait, some marks and corrosion, weight 26.709 g, maximum diameter 33.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 37 - 38 A.D.; obverse C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left; reverse S P Q R / P P / OB CIVES / SERVATOS in four lines within Corona Civica oak wreath; rare; $2400.00 (2040.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SL85595. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, NGC MS, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4377469-089), well centered, bold strike, some light marks, weight 17.18 g, maximum diameter 24 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; NGC certified (slabbed); ex Heritage Auction 231729, lot 63023; $2350.00 (1997.50)


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

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Strabo wrote, "The Romans possess Lugdunum, founded below a ridge at the confluence of the Arar and the Rhone. It is the most populous of all the other cities except Narbo; for it is a center of commerce, and the Roman emperors strike their silver and gold coinage there." (4.3.2)
SH85701. Silver denarius, RIC I 167a, BMCRE I 451, RSC I 137, BnF I 1373, Hunter I 197, SRCV I 1610, Choice EF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, dark toning, light marks, slightest porosity, weight 3.630 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverse AVGVSTVS DIVIF, bare head right, dot border; reverse bull butting right, left foreleg raised, lashing tail, IMPX in exergue, linear border; $2000.00 (1700.00)


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.
SH86213. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt em. 32, 7 (d/γ); Weber III 5736 (= Bodenstedt 7); Boston MFA 1906, SNG Kayhan -; SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Ionia -, Rosen -, EF, superb archaic style, well struck, tight flan, weight 2.529 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Phocaea mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse archaic style head of Athena right, wearing Corinthian helmet, almond shaped eye, slight smile, long hair in rows of dots, dotted necklace, seal upward behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $2000.00 (1700.00)


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.
SH86214. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 31, 3 (b/β); SNGvA 7943 (= Bodenstedt 3); SNG Kayhan 518; BMC Ionia -; SNG Cop -; Boston MFA -, EF, attractive archaic style, minor die wear, tiny edge cracks, seal off flan, weight 2.559 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 0o, Phocaea mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse archaic style head of nymph left, almond eye, slight smile, curly hair as rows of dots, wearing close fitting cap ornamented with a row of dots, rosette earring, seal downward behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $2000.00 (1700.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III and Alexander IV, c. 323 - 317 B.C., In the Name of Alexander

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
SH86161. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Mller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, Choice EF, attractive archaic style, bold well centered strike, high relief, light toning, weight 17.283 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 90o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, c. 322 - 320 A.D.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Macedonian helmet (control symbol) left; Classical Numismatic Group auction 105 (10 May 2017), lot 78; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 46 (11 Sep 2016), lot 105 (realized 1,900 plus fees); $1980.00 (1683.00)


Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ionia, c. 155 - 140 B.C.

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The magistrate's name is written ΠAYΣANIAΣ ΠAYΣANIOY, with the last name in genitive, which means Pausanias, the son of Pausanias.
GS86202. Silver stephanophoric tetradrachm, Jones obv. die 10a, SNG Cop 844, SNGvA 7922, SNG Lockett 2830, BMC Ionia -, Weber -, Choice EF, fine style, well centered and struck, toned, weight 16.464 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, c. 155 - 140 B.C.; obverse bust of Artemis the Hunter wearing stephane, bow & quiver at shoulder; reverse MAΓNHTΩN / ΠAYΣANIAΣ / ΠAYΣANIOY, Apollo naked standing half left, left arm resting on tripod, filleted branch in right, Maeander pattern below, magistrate's name with patronymic left, all within laurel wreath; ex A. Caillat Collection; $1800.00 (1530.00)




  



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Eye Appeal