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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Animals| ▸ |Elephant||View Options:  |  |  |   

Elephants on Ancient Coins

Carthage, Zeugitana, North Africa, Second Punic War, c. 213 - 211 B.C.

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Examples in the Enna hoard and other Sicilian hoards indicate that this coin was struck in Carthage for use in the Sicilian campaign of 213 - 210 BC. Experts disagree on the identity of the portrait; many identifying it as the god Melqart, others as Hannibal or his father.
SH13769. Silver half shekel, SNG Cop 383, Choice EF, weight 3.329 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Carthage mint, obverse laureate male head left (Hannibal or Melqart), dot border; reverse African elephant walking left on exergual line, Punic letter in exergue, linear border; toned; SOLD


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

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Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. According to legend, an ancestor received the name Caesar after single-handedly killing an elephant, probably in North Africa during the first Punic War, and "Caesai" was the name for elephant in the local Punic language. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
SH51516. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, Choice EF, wonderful elephant, excellent centering, a few minor nicks, light uneven toning (not as dark as appears in the photo), weight 3.992 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 75o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a carnyx (a 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); SOLD


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

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This is a scarcer variety of the type with the elephant's legs parallel and a human-like ear, attributed to Spain. The engravers were apparently unfamiliar with elephants. The round ear may indicate the elephant depicted is a North African Forest Elephant. The lower portion of modern elephant's ears have a distinctly triangular shape. The North African Forest Elephant species is thought to have become extinct around the 1st or 2nd century A.D. If the Romans used them in the Colosseum and other games, it would go some way to explain their extinction around that time. A hippopotamus species from Lower Egypt and a lion species from Mesopotamia are also suspected to have been butchered to extinction in Roman games.
SH82717. Silver denarius, BMCRR Gaul 27 (also with human-like ear), Russo RBW 1557 (same), RSC I 49, Sydenham 1006, Crawford 443/1, Sear CRI 9, SRCV I 1399, EF, well struck on a broad flan, iridescent toning, some die wear, weight 3.947 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 45o, Spain, traveling military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right, legs parallel, ear resembling a human ear more than an elephant ear, trampling on a 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 CNG (59305, 5/2/2000, www.historicalcoins.com); SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. Also, Pompey had recently tried to enter Rome on a chariot drawn by four elephants, since the gate was too narrow, the entrance was a flop. This coin was a reminder both of Caesar's success and of Pompey's failure. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
SH84738. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, Choice aEF, well centered and struck on a broad flan, light toning, some luster in recesses,, weight 4.001 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 180o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a 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); from the Marcelo Leal Collection; SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. According to legend, an ancestor received the name Caesar after single-handedly killing an elephant, probably in North Africa during the first Punic War, and "Caesai" was the name for elephant in the local Punic language. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
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 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; SOLD


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D.

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The fantastic elephant on the reverse boasts of the spectacular grand opening of the Roman Colosseum, which had the capacity to seat 50,000 spectators. Construction, begun by Vespasian c. 72 A.D., was completed by Titus in 80. The spectacular games held for the dedication lasted 100 days and nights, consisting primarily of gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. Some 5,000 animals, including elephants, were slaughtered. Martial tells of an elephant, who after dispatching a bull in the arena, knelt before the emperor!
SH37532. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 115; RSC II 303; BMCRE II 43; BnF III 37; SRCV I 2512, Choice EF, weight 3.339 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 80 A.D.; obverse IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M, laureate head right; reverse TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P, elephant standing left; ; SOLD


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH42576. Silver drachm, Houghton-Lorber II 131(8), Newell ESM 91a-b (same obv die), gVF, weight 4.239 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 270o, Seleukeia mint, obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse Athena driving quadriga of horned elephants right, anchor above, BAΣIΛEΩΣ on left, ΣEΛEYKOY exergue; ex CNG auction 82, lot 713 ($1200 plus fees); SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. Also, Pompey had recently tried to enter Rome on a chariot drawn by four elephants, since the gate was too narrow, the entrance was a flop. This coin was a reminder both of Caesar's success and of Pompey's failure. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
RS85080. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, Choice gVF, well centered and struck, mint luster in recesses, banker's mark, marks and scratches, weight 4.058 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 270o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a 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); SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. According to legend, an ancestor received the name Caesar after single-handedly killing an elephant, probably in North Africa during the first Punic War, and "Caesai" was the name for elephant in the local Punic language. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
SH86438. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, light tone, obverse a little off center on a broad flan, weight 3.921 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 270o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a 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); SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
Minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, this was the first coin type issued in Caesar's name. The elephant was the symbol of the Caesar family. According to legend, an ancestor received the name Caesar after single-handedly killing an elephant, probably in North Africa during the first Punic War, and "Caesai" was the name for elephant in the local Punic language. The obverse was long described as an elephant trampling a snake, symbolizing good triumphing over evil. For the Romans, however, the snake was a symbol of healing, not evil. The image to the right (click it to see a larger photo) is ornamentation on the side of the Gundestrup cauldron (c. 150 - 1 B.C.) depicting three Celtic warriors sounding their carnyx war trumpets. Clearly, Caesar's elephant is trampling a carnyx and the obverse symbolizes Caesar's victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome, a title now held by the Pope.Persian Empire
SH87326. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, toned, light bumps and marks, slightly off center, weight 3.607 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 285o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a 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 Ibercoin (Madrid), online sale 22 (27 Jun 2018), lot 228; SOLD




  




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Elephant