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High Grade Ancient Coins

When first introduced to ancient coins, most people are shocked to learn that some coins remain in mint state and even more surprised to learn that they are not all in musuems. Ancient people did not have stocks, bonds mutual funds, or bank accounts. The primary implement for holding wealth was coins, often buried, and often buried in uncirculated or mint state condition. If an owner died without recovering their coins or telling an heir where to find them, they were lost. Millions of ancient coins have been recovered, and thousands have been found in superb condition.


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

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Augustus' sun sign was Libra. We don't know why he selected the Capricorn as his emblem. Perhaps Capricorn was either his rising sign or his Moon sign. Popular astrology, of the newspaper kind, is sun sign astrology. The ancients tended to attach more importance to the Moon sign and rising signs. Perhaps Augustus selected the Capricorn because it is associated with stern moral authority.
SH84736. Silver denarius, BnF I 1271 (same dies, attributed to auxiliary workshop, Colonia Patricia), RIC I 126 (R2), RSC I 21, BMCRE I 346, Hunter I 145, SRCV I 1592, Choice aMS, nearly as struck, mint luster, well centered and bold strike, a few light marks, obverse die wear, weight 3.809 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Spanish (Colonia Patricia?) mint, 16 B.C.; obverse bare head right, dot border, anepigraphic; reverse capricorn right, filleted cornucopia overflowing with grain and fruit on its back, celestial globe and rudder with tiller held between hooves, AVGVSTVS below; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; scarce; $3150.00 (2803.50)


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C., Portrait of Queen Philistis

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Hieron II placed his wife and son on coins during his long reign. Those of Queen Philistis are eagerly sought after by collectors.
SH84601. Silver 5 litrae, CCO Syracuse 221 (D2/R2), SNG ANS 893, SNG Lloyd 1546, SNG Cop 827, Dewing 959, McClean 2918, Weber 1708, HGC 2 1557 (R2) (all from the same dies), Choice aEF/gVF, toned, light marks, weight 4.441 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 218 - 215 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed head of Queen Philistis left, palm frond behind; reverse Nike galloping biga left, holding reins with both hands, E in front of horses' legs, BAΣIΛIΣΣAΣ above, ΦIΛIΣTI∆OΣ exergue; from the Lawrence Woolslayer Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica auction 27 (12 May 2004), lot 129; ex A.D.M. Collection; ex Ratto Collection, 1929 sale, lot 213; rare; $3000.00 (2670.00)


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).
SH84764. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, near Mint State, light toning on luster, broad flan, uneven strike, reverse 1/5 off center, weight 3.834 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 30o, 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); ex Harlan J. Berk; $1750.00 (1557.50)


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; $1600.00 (1424.00)


Byzantine Empire, Nicephorus I and Stauracius, December 803 - 25 July 811 A.D.

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Nicephorus, the logothete (lord high treasurer) under Empress Irene, gained rule in a palace coup. At the Battle of Pliska, the Bulgarian Khan, Krum, surprised and slew Nicephorus along with a large portion of the Byzantine army. Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nicephorus' skull. Stauracius escaped the battle to Constantinople but was mortally wounded. He surrendered his throne to his brother-in-law, retired to a monastery, and died soon after.
SH83915. Gold solidus, DOC III, part 1, 2c.2; Wroth BMC 8; Tolstoi 9; Ratto 1786; Berk Gold 238; Sommer 27.1; SBCV 1604, EF, lustrous, well centered on a tight flan, weight 4.349 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, 10th officina, Constantinople mint, 803 - 811 A.D.; obverse hICI-FOROS bASILE', bearded facing bust of Nicephorus, wearing chlamys and cross with crown, cross potent on base in right hand, akakia in left hand, no pellet left; reverse STAVRA-CIS dESPO' X, unbearded facing bust of Stauracius, wearing chlamys and cross with crown, globus cruciger in right hand, akakia in left hand; from the Robert Watcher Collection, ex Heritage CICF auction (Chicago, Apr 2013), lot 3024 ($940 plus fees); scarce; $1010.00 (898.90)


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG II

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This may have been II Sabina, disbanded by Augustus. The well-known II Augusta, which took part in the conquest of Britain and was later stationed in South Wales, was one of Octavian's legions, and so not likely to be the Second Legion referred to on this coin. Other Second Legions (Adiutrix, Italica, Parthica and Traiana) were raised much later in imperial times.
SH85060. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/14, Sydenham 1216, BMCRR II East 190, RSC I 27, Sear CRI 349, EF, well centered bold strike on a tight flan, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 3.875 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae(?) mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANTAVG / III VIRRPC, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - II, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 244, lot 441; $1000.00 (890.00)


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)

SH85057. Silver denarius, RIC I 167b, BMCRE I 455, RSC I 139, BnF I 1386, Hunter I 197 var. (head right), SRCV I 1610 var. (same), aEF, attractive dark toning, nice style, flat area near temple, weight 3.868 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverse AVGVSTVS DIVIF, bare head left, border of dots; reverse bull butting right, left foreleg raised, lashing tail, IMPX in exergue, linear border; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1561; $900.00 (801.00)


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C., LEG VIII

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Caesar's old VIII Gallica was not disbanded and later became the VIII Augusta; however, that legion was associated with Octavian rather than Antony.
SH85063. Silver denarius, Crawford 544/21, Sydenham 1225, BMCRR II East 199, RSC I 35, EF, obverse off center, weight 3.830 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, Patrae(?) mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse ANTAVG / III VIRRPC, galley right with rowers, mast with banners at prow; reverse LEG - VIII, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1560; $875.00 (778.75)


Crispus, Caesar, 1 March 317 - 326 A.D.

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This type with a radiate head is unlisted in RIC VII but p. 379, 135, notes that Alfldi recorded the radiate head in RIN 1921, p. 118; citing a specimen in the Trau Collection with a PT mintmark (first officina), and another in the Gerin Collection with a TT mintmark (third officina). The note goes on to say the radiate bust type should be expected since the other rulers have parallel bust types in the issue, one of which is radiate. We know of eight total specimens of this type, but the Trau Collection coin is the only other first officina example known to Forum.
RL84331. Billon centenionalis, Alfldi RIN 1921, p. 118 (citing the Trau collection); RIC VII Ticinum 134 var. (laureate head, radiate head noted on p. 379), Choice EF, excellent bold and well-centered strike, attractive green patina, a few light marks, weight 2.947 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 320 A.D.; obverse CRISPVS NOB CAES, radiate head right; reverse DOMINORVM NOSTRORVM CAESS, VOT * V in two lines, the star in center, all within wreath tied at the bottom, PT in exergue; extremely rare; $600.00 (534.00)


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.
SL84530. Silver tetradrachm, Price 113, Mller Alexander 224, Troxell issue H3, SNG Cop 682, SNG Munchen 275, SNG Alpha Bank 503, SNG Delepierre 986, NGC XF, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, scratches (4163183-004), weight 17.04 g, maximum diameter 25 mm, die axis 180o, 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; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $570.00 (507.30)




  



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High Grade Ancient Coins