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

Countermarked Ancient Coins

A countermark is a stamped or punched impression adding elements of design to a coin after it was originally struck. The practice of countermarking coins was widespread throughout antiquity. It was particularly common in the provinces of the Roman Empire. Countermarks were applied to coins for many reasons, including revalidation, revaluation, devaluation, and propaganda. Exactly when and why any individual countermark was applied is often uncertain.


Kings of Galatia, Deiotaros, Tetrarch 63 - 59 B.C., King 59 - 40 B.C.

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Deiotarus was chief of the Celtic Tolistobogii tribe in western Galatia and became King of Galatia. He was a faithful ally of Rome against Mithridates VI of Pontus, for which he was rewarded by Pompey. Caesar pardoned him for siding with Pompey in the civil war but he was deprived of some of his dominions. After Caesar's death, Mark Antony, for a large payment, publicly announced that, in accordance with instructions left by Caesar, Deiotarus was to resume possession of all the territory of which he had been deprived. When civil war broke out again, Deiotarus supported the anti-Caesarian party of Brutus and Cassius, but after the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C., he went over to the triumvirs. He retained his kingdom until his death at a very advanced age.
GB88403. Bronze AE 27, SNGvA 6103 (same countermark); Arslan K4; SNG BnF 2333; BMC Galatia p. 1, 1; HGC 7 774 (R2); see RPC I p. 536, aVF, countermark VF, dark brown and green patina, off center, reverse flattened opposite countermark, weight 12.715 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Phrygian mint, 59 - 40 B.C.; obverse bust of winged Nike right, hair in a bunch behind; countermark: turreted head of Tyche in round punch; reverse eagle standing right on a sheathed sword, wings open, head turned back left, flanked by pilei of the Dioscuri each with a star above, BAΣIΛEΩΣ above, ∆HIOTAPOV below; very rare; $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00
 


Kings of Bosporos, Polemo I, c. 14 - 9 B.C.

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The Bosporan Kingdom (or Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus) was in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus, the present-day Strait of Kerch (it was not named after the Bosphorus beside Istanbul). The mixed population adopted Greek language and civilization. The prosperity of the kingdom was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The kingdom's golden age was 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., King Sauromates II inflicted a critical defeat on the Scythians and expanded his state to include the entire Crimea. It was the longest surviving Roman client kingdom, lasting until it was overrun by the Huns c. 375 A.D.
GB85937. Bronze tetrachalkon, Frolova-Ireland p. 52, pl. 33/1, pl. 34/1-5, MacDonald Bosporus 229, SNG Stancomb 961, Anokhin 256, HGC 7 347 (R2), RPC I -, SNG BM -, SNG Pushkin -, nice VF, bold strike, slightly off center, attractive near black patina with buff earthen highlighting, scratches, edge cracks, countermark, weight 9.295 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 14 - 9 B.C.; obverse head of gorgon Medusa (or Perseus? - most references say a gorgon) right, winged, snakes (or drapery) around neck, obscure round countermark before; reverse monogram of Polemo I; very rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Salonina, Augusta 254 - c. September 268 A.D., Wife of Gallienus, Side, Pamphylia

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The great ruins of Side are among the most notable in Asia Minor. The well-preserved city walls provide an entrance to the site through the Hellenistic main gate. Next comes the colonnaded street, all that remains of the marble columns are a few broken stubs. The street leads to the public bath, restored as a museum. Next is the square commercial agora with the remains of a round Temple of Tyche in the middle. The agora was a trading center where pirates sold slaves. The remains of the theater, which was used for gladiator fights and later as a church, and the monumental gate date back to the 2nd century. The early Roman Temple of Dionysus is near the theater. The fountain gracing the entrance is restored. At the left side are the remains of a Byzantine Basilica. The remaining ruins of Side include three temples, an aqueduct, and a nymphaeum. The photograph right is a panorama of the ruins of the commercial agora.Agora at Side

RP88901. Bronze 5 assaria, SNG BnF 936 (same rev. die), SNG PfPs 870 (same obv. die), SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Righetti -, BMC Lycia -, Lindgren -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs), aVF, well centered, porous, rough areas, weight 15.679 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 45o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, joint reign, Aug 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse KOPNHΛIA CAΛΩNINA CEB, draped bust right, wearing stephane, eagle facing with wings spread below; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch obliterating IA (prior mark of value); reverse CI∆HTΩN NEΩKOPΩN, prize urn, containing palms, inscribed IEPOC MVCTIKOC (mystical sanctuary), set on agonistic table, vase below; only one sale recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; very rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Valerian II, Caesar, Early 256 - 258 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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Athena, in addition to being the Greek goddess of Wisdom, is goddess of many things, among them law and justice. In Aeschylus’ tragedy "The Eumenides." Orestes is pursued to Athens by the vengeful Erinyes for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra. Athena intervenes and sets up a jury of twelve Athenians to judge Orestes. Athena herself presides over the trial, instructing her citizens to watch and learn how a trial should be conducted. Apollo speaks on behalf of Orestes, while the Erinyes act as advocates for the dead Clytemnestra. The vote is a tie, but Athena persuades the Erinyes to accept her own decision in favor of Orestes as the casting vote.
RP88905. Bronze 5 assaria, SNG Pfalz 885; SNG Cop 434; BMC Lycia p. 163, 127; SNG BnF -; SNGvA -; SNG Righetti -; SNG Hunterian -; Lindgren -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs), VF, porosity, a little off center, parts of legends weakly struck, weight 17.787 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 45o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, joint reign, Aug 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse KAI CEB ΠOY ΛIK KOP OV AΛEPIANON, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right, eagle facing below bust with head right and wings open; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch obliterating IA (prior mark of value); reverse CI∆HTΩN NEΩKOPΩN, Athena standing facing, head left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, dropping pebble (vote) with right hand into amphora to left (obliterated by counter-marking), palm frond in right hand; only two sales recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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SNG Pfalz 792 and SNGvA 4836 have the same types but with a reverse legend CI∆HTΩN - NEKOPΩN. This type and reverse legend was also struck for Gallienus in the same issue. This Athena type was used on coins struck at Side for many different emperors and empresses and probably depicts a sculpture of Athena that was in her temple at Side. The obverse countermark, Howgego 805 (169 pcs), devalued the coin from 8 to 5 assaria, likely at the same time when, during the sole reign of Gallienus, coins bearing the denomination "I" (i.e. 10 assaria) were issued.
RP88907. Bronze 5 assaria, Apparently unpublished; cf. SNG Pfalz 792 ( rev. leg.), SNGvA 4836 (same), SNG BnF -, SNG Righetti -, BMC Lycia -, et al. -; c/m: Howgego 805, F, well centered, some legend weak, porous, weight 14.488 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 180o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, c. Oct 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI ΠO ΛI OYAΛEPIANON CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch, obliterating prior mark of value H (8 assaria); reverse CI∆HTΩN, Athena standing facing, head right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, long chiton and peplos, spear vertical in right hand, thunderbolt in left hand, pomegranate on stem on left, palm frond and shield upright on the ground to right; zero sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades, we could not find another example online; very rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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Obverse countermarked with E in circular punch, 7.5 mm. Howgego 805 (169 pcs). The coin was devalued to 5 assaria, likely at the same time when, during the sole reign of Gallienus, coins bearing the denomination "I" (i.e. 10 assaria) were issued.
RP88908. Bronze 5 assaria, SNG BnF 917, SNG Pfalz 833, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, SNG Righetti -, BMC Lycia -; Lindgren -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs), VF, some die wear/damage, edge crack, porosity, weight 16.318 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, die axis 45o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, joint reign, Aug 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI * ΠO ΛI ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB (clockwise starting at 9:00), laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, star above dividing legend; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch obliterating prior mark of value IA (10 assarion); reverse CI∆HTΩN NEΩKOPΩN, Athena Nikephoros standing facing, head left, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet, long chiton and peplos, Nike offering wreath in Athena's extended right hand, left hand on grounded shield; zero sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades, we could not find another example online; very rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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BMC Lycia does not have a plate image for this coin but it is described with the same obverse legend error and the same reverse inscription arrangement. There are five specimens from these dies on Coin Archives. The British Museum coin is probably also from the same dies.
RP88911. Bronze 5 assaria, BMC Lycia p. 161, 115 (same dies?); SNG BnF -; SNG PfPs -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG Righetti -; Lindgren -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs), aVF, well centered, porosity, central depressions, weight 15.543 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, joint reign, Aug 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI ΠO AI ΓAΛΛIHNO CEB (AI in error, should be ΛI), laureate bust right, wearing paludamentum and cuirass, eagle right below with wings open; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch obliterating IA (prior mark of value); reverse galley left with acrostolium, ram, oarsmen, steersman with rudder, and aphlaston, tree with pomegranates on right, CI∆H/TΩN in two lines above, NEΩKOPΩ/N in two lines below; rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Agrippa, Struck Under his Grandson Caligula, 38 A.D.; Countermark: Moesia or Thrace, Civil War, 68 - 69 A.D.

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Pangerl (Pangerl 87) attributes this P R countermark to Moesia or Thrace and dates it to the Roman civil war of 68 - 69 A.D. He interprets it to abbreviate Populus Romanus. Howgego (Howgego 599) lists a contemporary P R countermark (sometimes retrograde) that was applied in Syria, probably at Antioch. These use of P R was almost certainly intended to suggest the support of the people of the Roman Empire for the revolt of Galba and Vindex.
CM91168. Copper as, RIC I Gaius 58, BMCRE II Tiberius 161, BnF II Caligula 77, Hunter I 1, Cohen I 3, SRCV I 1812; Countermark: Pangerl 87 (Moesia or Thrace, 68 - 69), coin: aF; countermark: VF, right edge punch appears to have been broken, weight 8.946 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, coin: 38, countermark: c. 68 - 69; obverse M AGRIPPA L F COS III, head left wearing a rostral crown; countermark: P R (Populi Romani - People of Rome) in a rectangular punch; reverse Neptune standing facing, head left, nude but for cloak draped over arms, dolphin in right hand, trident vertical in left hand, large S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; scarce countermark; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, 211 - 206 B.C.

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Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. Janus is believed to be one of the few major deities in Roman mythology that does not have a Greek origin or counterpart.
RR88221. Bronze as, Crawford 56/2, Sydenham 143, BMCRR Rome 373 ff., SRCV I 627, F, green patina, crack, porous, weight 29.386 g, maximum diameter 33.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 211 - 206 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Janus, I (mark of value) above, countermark: head right in round punch; reverse war galley prow right, I (mark of value) above, ROMA in exergue; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; $145.00 SALE PRICE $131.00
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

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The great ruins of Side are among the most notable in Asia Minor. They cover a large promontory which a wall and a moat separate from the mainland. There are two agoras: a commercial agora and the "state" agora. The commercial agora is over 8000 square meters, surrounded by columns, with shops, exedras and latrines and washing places. On it inconceivable numbers of slaves must have been traded, for during part of its history Side was a major center for pirates who stationed their fleet here. At its center, there is a round temple, well-restored, that was dedicated to the protective goddess of the city, Tyche. The present construction dates from the 2nd century A.D. and was still in use in Byzantine times.Temple of Tyche

RP88916. Bronze 5 assaria, SNG Pfalz 835, SNG BnF 918, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Righetti -, BMC Lycia -; c/m: Howgego 805 (169 pcs.), VF, broad flan, porosity, weight 17.498 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 180o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, joint reign, Aug 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI ΠOY ΛI ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB, laureate bust right, wearing paludamentum and cuirass, star above dividing legend; countermark on right: E (5 assaria) in 7.5mm round punch obliterating IA (prior mark of value); reverse CI∆HTΩN NEΩKOPOC, draped bust of Tyche right, wearing mural crown; only three sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; scarce; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
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Countermarked