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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!


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 The type was apparently not distributed, and was withdrawn, and melted when it was decided to debase the coinage and use the PONT MAX legend.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 SALE PRICE $4500.00


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 AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; NGC certified (slabbed); ex Heritage Auction 231729, lot 63023; $2350.00 SALE PRICE $2115.00


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 SALE PRICE $1800.00


Arados, Phoenicia, Unknown King "N", c. 348 - 338 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
SH85437. Silver stater, BMC Phoenicia p. 10, 58; Betlyon 26, note 104, pl. 7, 4; Rouvier III p. 131, 5; HGC 10 33 (R1); Sunrise 114; SNG Cop -, VF, well centered on a tight flan, struck with high relief dies, test cut on obverse, weight 10.346 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 270o, Arados mint, c. 348 - 338 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph nun (Melech Arad N - King of Arados N) from right to left above, three waves below; rare; $1500.00 SALE PRICE $1350.00


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

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Mrida, Spain was founded by P. Carisius in 25 B.C., as Emerita Augusta, the name referring to the discharged soldiers who populated the city, by order of Augustus to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The city became an important city in the Roman Empire and the capital of Lusitania province. Mrida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain (including a triumphal arch of the age of Trajan).
SH84707. Silver denarius, RIC I 9b, RSC I 398, BMCRE I 291, BMCRR Spain 128, BnF I 1039, Hunter I 124, SRCV I 1627 var. (head right), gVF, full circle centering on a broad flan, mint luster, weak strike areas, die wear, small edge cracks, weight 3.775 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 90o, Emerita Augusta (Merida, Spain) mint, P. Carisius, c. 25 - 23 B.C.; obverse IMP CAESAR AVGVST, bare head left; reverse P CARISIVS LEG PRO PR (P. Carisius Legatus [Augusti] pro Praetore), bird's-eye view of town with walls around, EMERITA inscribed above gateway in front with three battlements over two arched entrances; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; $1350.00 SALE PRICE $1215.00


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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This was the first coin issued in Caesar's name. It was minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus. The symbolism on the obverse appears to be the triumph of good over evil. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus (high priest of Rome).
SH85591. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, old collection rainbow toning, choice obverse, light marks, reverse 1/4 off center, weight 4.024 g, maximum diameter 9.6 mm, die axis 0o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a dragon or carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.
SH85694. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XXII, 672 (V338/R459); SNG ANS 222 (same dies); BMC Sicily, p. 162, 123 (same); Jameson 778 (same); Pozzi 586 (same); HGC 2 1320, VF, fine classical style, obverse die wear, bumps and scratches, somewhat ragged tight flan, weight 16.769 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by male charioteer holding kentron and reins, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, head of Arethusa right, earring, necklace, hair bound with taenia and wound four times around; four dolphins swimming around; $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00


Mesembria, Thrace, c. 275 - 225 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Thrace was invaded by the Galatians in 279 B.C. Only the wealthy coastal cities, including Mesembria, withstood their attacks. Following that chaos, rule of Thrace was divided between many tribes. Philip V, 221 - 179 B.C., tried to regain control of the area for the Macedonian Kingdom, but his success was limited and short lived. Mesembria was taken by Mithradates VI in the First Mithradatic War and surrendered to Rome in 71 B.C. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms as early as 275 B.C., more than 50 years after Alexander's death, and probably issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms struck anywhere, possibly under Roman rule as late as 65 B.C.
SH85286. Silver tetradrachm, Karayotov p. 84 and pl. VII, 41 (O7/R18); Price 992; Mller Alexander 436, gVF, attractive style, light marks and scratches, weight 17.000 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 180o, Mesambria (Nesebar, Bulgaria) mint, c. 275 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Corinthian helmet right over ΠA monogram in inner left field under arm; ex FORVM (2013); $700.00 SALE PRICE $630.00


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.
SH85062. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Mller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, Choice VF, well centered and struck, toned, light marks and scratches, weight 17.205 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, 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 left; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1209; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00


Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

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Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB85628. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 486 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1210 var. (MOΨEIΩN), Rogers 412 var. (same), McClean 4648 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC -, gVF, green patina, bold centered strike on a tight flan, small pits including one on tip of nose., weight 7.719 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨEI-ATΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag; very rare; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00




  



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Eye Appeal