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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Numismatics ▸ RaritiesView Options:  |  |  |   

Rare Ancient Coins

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 The type was apparently not distributed, and was withdrawn, and melted when it was decided to debase the coinage and use the PONT MAX legend.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


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Philippopolis, Thrace

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Nomos described this coin as, "An extraordinary piece, especially with remains of its original silver plating. Some marks from cleaning, otherwise, about extremely fine."
SH85458. Silvered medallion, okatassarion or quinarius; SNG Cop 784; Varbanov III 1721 (R8); Mionnet I, p. 419, 358 (R6); Mouchmov 5428 (all same dies), aEF, cleaning marks, areas of light corrosion, weight 38.718 g, maximum diameter 40.8 mm, die axis 15o, Philippopolis mint, 218 - 222 A.D.; obverse AYT K M AYPΛ ANTΩNEINOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed three-quarter length bust of Elagabalus left; reverse MHTPOΠOΛEΩC ΦIΛIΠΠOΠOΛEΩC NEΩ KOPOY, youthful Herakles standing left, nude but for lion's skin draped around his left forearm, resting his right hand on the handle of a club set on the ground and holding an apple in his left hand; ex Nomos AG, auction 10 (18 May 2015), lot 115 (realized approximately $4686 including buyers fee); extremely rare; $3400.00 SALE PRICE $3060.00


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Gaius Licinius Mucianus (named on this coin) was governor of Syria. When he failed to put down the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was sent to replace him. After the death of Galba, Mucianus and Vespasian both swore allegiance to Otho. Mucianus persuaded Vespasian to take up arms against Vitellius, who had seized the throne. They agreed Vespasian would settle affairs in the East, while Mucianus made would attack Vitellius. On his way to Rome, Mucianus defeated a Dacian invasion of Moesia. Mucianus reached Rome the day after Vitellius' death. Mucianus never wavered in his allegiance to Vespasian and was appointed consul for the third time in 72. As no mention is made of Mucianus during the reigns of Titus or Domitian, he probably died during the reign of Vespasian.
RP85562. Bronze AE 28, McAlee 319 (ex. rare, same dies), cf. RPC 4316 (not specifying obverse legend direction), aVF, nice portrait, dark patina with buff earthen highlighting, spots of light corrosion, obverse legend mostly weak or off flan, weight 11.757 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 15 Jan 69 - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse [IMP M OT]-HO - [CAE AVG] (counterclockwise from upper left), head laureate right, dot in field behind; reverse EΠI / MOYKIA/NOY AN/TIOXEΩ/N ET ZIP (legate Mucianus, of Antioch, year 117) in five lines within a linear circle in a laurel wreath; this variant with a counterclockwise obverse legend is extremely rare; ex Gemini auction XIII (6 Apr 2017), lot 158, ex Jyrki Muona Collection; $2250.00 SALE PRICE $2025.00


Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus I Monophthalmus or Antigonus II Gonatus, 306 - 270 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references and not yet fully attributed, this is only the second specimen of this extremely rare and important drachm known to Forum. Both specimens were struck with the same reverse die. Gorny & Mosch wrote of their specimen: "Troxell recorded a very rare issue of Alexandrine tetradrachms in the name of Gonatas (The Peloponnesian Alexanders, ANSMN 17, 1971, 75-6, note 68), which through hoard evidence was conclusively proven to be struck at Pella circa 272 (see R. W. Mathisen, Antigonus Gonatas and the Silver Coinages of Macedon circa 280-270 BC, ANSMN 26, 1981, pp. 79-123, esp. p. 104). However, this unique drachm has no controls that would explicitly tie it to the Pella mint tetradrachms, and even more perplexing is the style of the engraving, which is clearly dissimilar to the tetradrachms as well. One might suppose that it is in fact not a coin of Gonatas at all, but rather a hitherto unknown drachm of his grandfather, Antigonos I Monophthalmos. However, this also does not sit well, again for reasons of style, which is inconsistent with the period of Monophthalmos' reign. For the time being, therefore, this coin must remain a numismatic enigma until further evidence can shed additional light on it."

There are two auction records for the Gorny & Mosch specimen: Roma Numismatics auction 7 (22 Mar 2014), lot 454, sold for £ 4,800 plus fees; and Gorny & Mosch auction 203 (5 Mar 2012), lot 150, sold for € 3,200 plus fees. Our coin sold at Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, (4 May 2014), lot 152, apparently slipping through unnoticed by all but our astute consignor for € 575 plus fees.
SH71048. Silver drachm, unpublished in standard refs; cf. Roma Numismatics auction 7, lot 454 (same rev die) = Gorny & Mosch auction 203, lot 150, VF, reverse struck a bit flat, weight 3.845 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Greece or Macedonia mint, 306 - 270 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIΓONOY, Zeus Aetophoros enthroned left, throne with high back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, lot 152; extremely rare, only two know specimens; $1650.00 SALE PRICE $1485.00


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.
SH85460. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 37, BMCRE I 38, Cohen I 24, BnF II 50, SRCV I -, VF, well centered and struck, weight 25.486 g, maximum diameter 35.9 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; ex Stack's, Bowers, and Ponterio, 30 Oct 2014, Baltimore Auction, lot 242; rare; $1620.00 SALE PRICE $1458.00


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


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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As reported by B.V. Head in Chapter 5 of Excavations at Ephesus: The Archaic Artemisia, a coin of this type was one of five coins found in excavations underneath the foundations of the southern wall of the B cella of the Artemisia at Ephesus. The other four coins were lion head and lion paw types. Head wrote these coins must have been deposited during construction of the First Temple (A). Weidauer 145 is the coin found at the Artemisia (= Head Artemisia 79), now at the Arkeoloji MŁzesi, Istanbul. The Weidauer coins appear to be struck with the same obverse die.
SH84450. Electrum 1/24 stater, Milesian standard; Weidauer 145 - 146; Head Artemisia p. 86 and pl. 2, 79; cf. SNGvA 1781 (different style); Rosen 287 (same); SNG Kayhan 717 (same), gVF, centered, edge cracks, some die rust (also found on other examples of this type), weight 0.579 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse bridled head and neck of Pegasos left, with top edge of wing visible; reverse four raised squares in a cross pattern within incuse square punch; very rare; $1450.00 SALE PRICE $1305.00


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. In early Greek art, Sirens were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers, and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps. Later Sirens were sometimes depicted as beautiful women, whose bodies, not only their voices, were seductive.
SH84464. Electrum hemihekte, Unpublished in major references; Naville auction VII (1924), Bement Collection, lot 1435; CNG, Triton XI (8 Jan 2008), lot 253, aEF, tight flan, earthen deposits, weight 1.367 g, maximum diameter 8.8 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse siren standing left; reverse incuse square punch; ex Numismatica Ars Classica, auction 92, part 2 (24 May 2016), lot 1476; this type is not published in the major references but many examples are known from auctions; rare; $1440.00 SALE PRICE $1296.00


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes IV and Erato, Second Reign, c. 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.

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This remarkable type was only discovered in 1978. In 2014, one of the best examples to come to auction but still only aVF, realized $12,370 plus fees! In "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" in AJN 20 (2008), Frank Kovacs convincingly attributes this type to Tigranes IV and notes the view is of Mt. Ararat from the perspective of the city of Artaxata. The beardless portrait fits the youthful Tigranes IV and, although not visible on most examples, the legend on the reverse, ΦIΛOKAIΣAP, refers to the Armenian king's affection for his Roman ally, Augustus.
SH85956. Bronze dichalkon, Kovacs AJN 20 p. 340 and pl. 81, 5; Bedoukian CCA 128 (Tigranes II); Nercessian ACV 122 (Tigranes II); MDHRAC -, F, porous, weak legends not visible - as on most known specimens, weight 4.214 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, Artaxata mint, 2nd reign, c. 2 B.C.; obverse ...EME - TIΓPAN (or similar), jugate busts of Tigranes and Erato right, Tigranes draped and wearing a tall Armenian tiara with five point and ornamented with a star; reverse ΦIΛOKAIΣAP (friend of Caesar), twin peaks of Mount Ararat, as seen from the Armenian capital Artaxata, A (regnal year 1) below; extremely rare; $1400.00 SALE PRICE $1260.00


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Otho ruled for just a few months. The mint of Alexandria struck coins with his name, though the portrait bears little resemblance to those of the other mints. It is possible that Alexandria produced coins without having an image of the new emperor.
RP84745. Bronze hemidrachm, RPC I 5364 (3 spec.); Geissen 257; Dattari 336; BMC Alexandria 26, 217; Milne 376; SNG BnF 710; Kampmann-Ganschow 18.13; Emmett 189 (R4); SNG Milan -, F, attractive brown tone, flan crack, light scratches, smoothing, weight 16.768 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 69 A.D.; obverse AYTOK MAPK OΘΩNOΣ KAIΣ ΣEB, laureate head right, beveled edge; reverse bust of Nilus right, wearing papyrus diadem, cornucopia behind right shoulder, date LA (year 1) before; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; extremely rare; $1300.00 SALE PRICE $1170.00




  



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