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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Crisis and Decline ▸ GallienusView Options:  |  |  |   

Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

Gallienus was co-emperor with his father Valerian from 253, then ruled alone after his father's capture by Parthia in 260. Ruling during the Crisis of the Third Century that nearly caused the collapse of the empire, he repelled wave after wave of barbarian invaders, but he was unable to prevent the secession of important provinces. Gallienus presided over a late flowering of Roman culture, patronizing poets, artists, and philosophers. He was assassinated by his own soldiers in 268 while besieging Milan.


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In 263 A.D., King Odenathus of Palmyra declared himself ruler of the area west of the River Euphrates and was given the title Dux Orientalis by Emperor Gallienus.
RB86184. Orichalcum sestertius, Göbl MIR 92h, RIC V J209, Cohen V 132, Hunter IV J24 corr. (described with aegis), SRCV III 10467, aVF, tight flan, dark green patina with light earthen deposits, some corrosion, a few blue-green spots, tiny edge cracks, weight 16.198 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 253 - 255 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, slight drapery on far shoulder; reverse CONCORDIA EXERCIT (harmony with the army), Concord standing left holding patera and double cornucopia, S C (senatus consulto) at sides low across field; the lighter blue-green spots are hard, not powdery, and do NOT appear to be active corrosion; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


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Hercules is depicted in the same pose as the Farnese Hercules, a massive marble sculpture, which depicts a muscular yet weary Hercules leaning on his club, which has his lion-skin draped over it. He has just performed the last of The Twelve Labors, which is suggested by the apples of the Hesperides he holds behind his back. The Farnese Hercules is probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century A.D., signed by Glykon, from an original by Lysippos that would have been made in the fourth century B.C. The copy was made for the Baths of Caracalla in Rome (dedicated in 216 AD), where it was recovered in 1546. Today it is in Naples National Archaeological Museum. The statue was well liked by the Romans, and copies have been found in many Roman palaces and gymnasiums.
RA89689. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 1616i, RSC IV 1320d, SRCV III 10415, RIC V-1 S673 var. (draped and cuirassed not listed), Choice EF, sharp detail, excellent centering, toned silvering, weight 3.843 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 264 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VIRTVS AVGVSTI (to the valor of the Emperor), Hercules standing right, right hand on hip, left hand holding lion skin and resting on a club set on rock, star in exergue; ex Beast Coins; $160.00 (€140.80)
 


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The "zoo series" of coins calling on Diana to protect the Emperor was struck late in Gallienus' reign. His father, Valerian, had been particularly dedicated to the worship of Diana the Preserver and had dedicated a temple to her at Rome. Diana apparently did not favor Gallienus. Not long after this coin was struck, he was assassinated near Milan while attempting to deal with the usurper Aureolus.
RB91182. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 728z, RIC V-1 S176, RSC IV 153, SRCV III 10199, EF, traces of silvering, tight flan, weight 2.712 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 267 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse IMP GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse DIANAE CONS AVG (to Diana protector of the Emperor), doe walking right with head turned back left, E in exergue; $160.00 (€140.80)
 


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This type commemorates vows made to Apollo invoking his protection against the revolt of Aureolus. During the siege of Milan, at a late hour but while he was still lingering with pleasures of the table, a false alarm was suddenly given, reporting that Aureolus, at the head of all his forces, had made a desperate sally from the town. Gallienus, who was never deficient in personal bravery, started from his silken couch, and without allowing himself time either to put on his armor or to assemble his guards, he mounted on horseback and rode full speed towards the supposed place of the attack. There he was ambushed by enemies from among his own officers. Amidst the nocturnal tumult, he received a mortal wound from an uncertain hand. Perhaps his request to Apollo was too specific and asked only for protection from Aureolus?

According to Philostratus, the griffin was sacred to Apollo or Sol. On coins of Aureliopolis in Lydia, griffins are represented drawing the chariot of the Sun.
RA91293. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 718z, RIC V-1 S165, RSC IV 77, Hunter IV S88, SRCV III 10180 var. (no IMP), VF, nice dark near black patina, weight 3.080 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Rome mint, 10th emission, 267 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse IMP GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse APOLLINI CONS AVG (to Apollo the preserver of the Emperor), griffin walking left, ∆ in exergue; $130.00 (€114.40)
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Antiocheia, Pisidia

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Paul of Tarsus gave his first sermon to the Gentiles (Acts 13:13-52) at Antiochia in Pisidia, and visited the city once on each of his missionary journeys, helping to make Antioch a center of early Christianity in Anatolia. Antioch in Pisidia is also known as Antiochia Caesareia and Antiochia in Phrygia.
RP86498. Bronze AE 29, Krzyzanowska (XVII/41), SNG BnF 1324 (same obverse die), SNG Cop 92 (same), SNGvA -, SNG PfPs -, BMC Lycia -, VF, blue-green patina, obverse center not fully struck, bumps and marks, weight 12.533 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvac, Turkey) mint, Aug 253 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse IMP CA GALIHNVS PIVS, radiate and draped bust right; reverse ANTIOCHI COL, she-wolf right standing right, head turned back looking left, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, S R (Senatus Romanum) in exergue; $90.00 (€79.20)
 


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This type refers to victory of the Carpi in 257 A.D.
RS87904. Silver antoninianus, Göbl MIR 845o, RIC V-1 J404, RSC IV 1045, SRCV III 10376, Cunetio 785 (4 spec.), Hunter IV - (p. xlv), aVF, centered, nice portrait, light toning, porous/corrosion, die wear, edge cracks and splits, weight 3.299 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 0o, Viminacium (Stari Kostolac, Serbia) mint, 257 A.D.; obverse IMP GALLIENVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICT GERM (victory over the Germans), Victory standing left, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand, bound captive at feet on left; ex Beast Coins, ex Dan Hoffman Gallienus Collection; $85.00 (€74.80)
 


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RA89643. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 1611g, RIC V-1 630, SRCV III 10172, RSC IV 51b var. (bust), Hunter - (p. lxix), Choice gVF, near full silvering, excellent centering, bold legends, weight 3.340 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 260 - 268 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse AETERNITATI AVG, Sol standing half left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand, star in left field; ex Beast Coins, ex Dan Hoffman Gallienus Collection; $80.00 (€70.40)
 


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Security was only wishful thinking when this coin was struck. There were so many invasions in the next few years that they confused the ancient sources and much of the history is lost. In 267, the Goths sacked several cities in southern Greece including Athens, Corinth, Argos and Sparta. Gallienus defeated them, but the Alamanni would come the year after.
RA89641. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR, 595a, RSC IV 961a, RIC V-1 S280, SRCV III 10359, Choice VF, well centered, white metal, toned, reverse center strike a little soft, weight 3.478 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, 8th officina, Rome mint, 264 - 267 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse SECVRIT PERPET (everlasting security), Securitas standing slightly left, legs crossed, head left, long scepter in right, leaning with left arm on column, H right; ex Beast Coins, ex Dan Hoffman Gallienus Collection ; $75.00 (€66.00)
 


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Emperors frequently made vows to Jupiter for protection. The Roman's believed as the king of the gods, Jupiter favored those in positions of authority similar to his own. For a time at least, it appears Jupiter favored Gallienus. He ruled for another 14 years, which was a long reign in the age of the Thirty Pretenders. Alas, it seems every emperor eventually fell from favor since none of them are alive today.
RA64622. Silver antoninianus, Göbl MIR 26u, RIC V-1 J143, RSC IV 377, SRCV III 10241, VF, toned, centered, flat centers, weight 3.501 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Aug 253 - Aug 254 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse IOVI CONSERVATORI (to Jupiter the protector), Jupiter standing facing, nude but for cloak behind, head left, thunderbolt in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; rare; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Virtus applied exclusively to a man's behavior in the public sphere, that is to the application of duty to the res publica in the cursus honorum. Private business was no place to earn virtus, even when it involved courage or feats of arms or other good qualities. There could be no virtue in exploiting one's manliness in the pursuit of personal wealth, for example. It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors and was personified as the deity Virtus.
RA89690. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 1616e, RSC IV 1320a, RIC V-1 S673, Hunter IV S192, SRCV III 10415, Choice VF, well centered, near full silvering, light earthen deposits, weight 3.929 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 263 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse VIRTVS AVGVSTI (to the valor of the Emperor), Hercules standing right, right hand on hip, left holding lion skin and resting on a club set on a rock, star right; ex Beast Coins; $70.00 (€61.60)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

IMPCAESGALLIENVSAVG
IMPCGALLIENVSPFAVG
IMPCPLICGALLIENVSAVG
IMPCPLICGALLIENVSPFAVG
IMPGALLIENVSAVG
IMPGALLIENVSAVGCOSV
IMPGALLIENVSAVGGER
IMPGALLIENVSAVGGERM
IMPBALLIENVSFAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPAVGGERM
IMPGALLIENVSPFAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPFAVGGERM
IMPGALLIENVSPFAVGGERS
IMPGALLIENVSPFAVGG
IMPGALLIENVSPFAVGGM
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSFAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSFEL
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSFELAVG
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSFELAVGGERM
IMPGALLIENVSPIVSFELIXAVG
IMPGALLIENVSVAVG
IMPPLICGALLIENVSAVG
IMPPLICGALLIENVSPFAVG
GALLIENAEAVGVSTAE
GALLIENVMAVGPR
GALLIENVMAVGSENATVS
GALLIENVMPRINC
GALLIENVMSENATVS
GALLIENVSAVG
GALLIENVSAVGGERM
GALLIENVSAVGGERMV
GALLIENVSPAVG
GALLIENVSPFAVG
GALLIENVSPFAVGGERM
GALLIENVSPIVSAVG
GALLIENVSPIVSFAVG
GALLIENVSPIVSFELIXAVG


REFERENCES

Besly, E. & R. Bland. The Cunetio Treasure: Roman Coinage of the Third Century AD. (London, 1983).
Bourdel, B. Les Antoniniens emis sous le regne conjoint des empereurs Valerien et Gallien, Mariniane, Salonine, Valerien II, Salonin (253-260 Apr. J.-C.). (2017).
Burnett, A. & R. Bland, eds. Coin Hoards from Roman Britain: The Normanby Hoard and Other Roman Coin Hoards. (London, 1988).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. Two: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Volume 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Elmer, G. "Die Münzprägung der gallischen Kaiser von Postumus bis Tetricus in Köln, Trier und Mailand." in Bonner Jahrbücher 146 (1941).
Göbl, R. et al. Moneta Imperii Romani, Band 35: Die Münzprägung des Kaiser Valerianus I/Gallienus/Saloninus (253/268), Regalianus (260) un Macrianus/Quietus (260/262). (Vienna, 2000).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham, and P. Webb. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol V, Part I, Valerian to Florian. (London, 1927).
Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) http://numismatics.org/ocre/
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. IV. Valerian I to Allectus. (Oxford, 1978).
Schaad, D. & J. Lafaurie. Le trésor d'Eauze. (Toulouse, 1992).
Seaby, H. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume Three, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Gallienus