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Your most satisfying coin acquisition?


CPK
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There are some coins in my collection that are just satisfying. I thoroughly enjoy looking at them, handling them, taking photos. They bring me joy without any regret or buyer's remorse.

I'm sure you all feel the same way about some of your coins. Maybe you got a really good deal on it, maybe it's a coin you had been hunting for a long time and finally got it. Perhaps it's the artistry or historical significance of the coin, or a combination of all the above.

Here is one that brings me such satisfaction:

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At first glance it seems to be a pretty poor coin to give satisfaction, but...I had been wanting to get an Imperial portrait coin of Caligula for a little while to complete my Julio-Claudian emperors, but couldn't afford the high-ish price tags even a worn example can bring. It was essential that the portrait at least be recognizable, and preferably, his name (C CAESAR) on the obverse. Unfortunately with such qualifications I was having trouble finding one for under $200 - $300.

Then I found this one listed for...$35. Wow!! Even with the corrosion and pitting, I could hardly believe it. The portrait is very decent (save for the pitting around his eyes and neck) and not only is Caligula's name preserved, but the entire obverse inscription. Even the reverse - worse than the obverse - retains a fair amount of detail. It was so satisfying to be able to fill that spot so cheaply and with an actually decent coin too!

 

Then there is this one, another Julio-Claudian:

 

20220528_104311.jpg.705c8fbce1adb14562c7b0780d1b8ce0.jpg

 

I liked the portrait style when I first saw it listed, but I think I have grown in my liking since then. I do have another coin of this same type, with a MUCH better reverse as well as a good portrait, but something about this one...the color of the patina, the contrast, even the smoothly worn surfaces...it is a very appealing coin to me. Well worth the ~$100 IMO.

 

What are some of your satisfying coin acquisitions?

 

 

 

 

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This is a very common and inexpensive coin, but it was very satisfying to me, because it's a die match to the example I had previously but had parted with. I regretted having parted ways with the original coin, and was pretty happy to find this die match to bring the coin back to me.

JuliaDomna.png.743c3d4e469d476cb70c4a3d9691b574.png

 

This is the coin I'd had previously:

domna.jpg.be491855ee0bd610682c44ca642b6813.jpg

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I'm a big believer in understanding any topic by studying its intellectual history, so for numismatics that means being interested in old collections and collectors, books, articles, and catalogs.

My most rewarding coins are the ones where I found a lost provenance to an important old collection or piece of literature that might've otherwise been lost forever (or possibly for generations). I can also feel as if I've preserved a few tiny bits of lost numismatic history in the process of collecting.

This one, most of all, since I'd had the coin for 30 years before I discovered it was in the Dr. S. Pozzi (1846-1918) Collection. I've told the story before, but it was one of my first coins, and I could always tell it had been in an old collection, but had no provenance until about a year ago:

image.png.9af346449f21fbffd1b1a5bdfd7d05b6.png

 

More recently, when I bought this coin, there was virtually no provenance, and CNG (EA 505 [2021], 361) and RPC (10362, now corrected) both had it described as only the second known example, after the Giovanni Dattari (1858-1923) Collection specimen. As it happens, I have a copy of the 2007 Dattari-Savio volume illustrating >13,200 of his coins for just this purpose. It turned out to be the Dattari specimen (making it still the only known). Two things I'd still like to know, when was this coin sold by Harlan J Berk (who correctly noted on the old ticket that it was the Dattari coin) and whose dealer ticket is that below:

image.png.0cbc037070077821af08268b5552c824.png

image.jpeg.90af015a3dc1b49a52ced3f675d53f09.jpeg

 

The lost provenance isn't always so old. This one had entirely lost its provenance when I saw it for sale, but I recognized it as BCD Thessaly II 218 (the BCD Collection of Thessaly, Part II, sold at Triton XV in 2012). The BCD catalog didn't give any prior provenance, but I was able to trace it to the Thessaly 1993 Hoard (CH IX 64) and several publications by Catharine Lorber and colleagues (I added them in the ACSearch comments linked)

image.jpeg.d8a41c9021c2db26725a520779082618.jpeg

 

I'm very familiar with the BCD Collection catalogs (there are 10 major ones, plus several "supplements" and many minor sales), so I have several others like that, all of which are very satisfying.

But sometimes it's just as satisfying to find information that BCD himself missed, despite having a world class library and personal knowledge of the ancient coin world. And especially since I view his collection as a source of inspiration. (As I've said before, I'll enjoy my small victories when I find them!)

BCD had included the Messene Triobol below's (BCD Peloponnesos II 2327) provenance to a Stack's 1979 sale (but neglected to mention that it was the John Sawhill (1892-1976) Collection, which had been bequeathed to John Madison University). Both Sawhill/JMU Catalog and BCD Peloponnesos II failed to recognize that this coin was from the important old collection of the German textile magnate Heinrich Otto, Jr. (1856-1931), better known as "Sammlung Kommerzienrat H. Otto, Stuttgart," from Adolph Hess 207 in 1931:

image.png.f3915aab7b7e96a537caf36d9ab55048.png

image.jpeg.e9dbcedb09f4f0b73a9c3273eba74eba.jpegimage.jpeg.9ab7ee425a8d6f8df8a5884b54d4b7ff.jpeg

 

 

I could keep going on and on and on (even more than I have), but you get the idea. It's hard to say which is the most satisfying (after the Corinth Stater), but all of these rank near the top.

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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1 hour ago, CPK said:

I liked the portrait style when I first saw it listed, but I think I have grown in my liking since then.

I can see why -- that is a really interesting portrait of Claudius -- captivating. Besides being very "real" and expressive, it makes him look much older than I expect him to. The reverse is more worn/weathered, but the obverse is still quite attractive. The more I stare it, the more I feel like I'm looking at a real living person. That's always a sign of a great portrait!

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Roman Republic. Anonymous. Circa 215-212 BC. Æ Aes Grave As (35mm, 68.82g, 1h). Obv: Head of bearded Janus on a raised disk. Rev: Prow of galley right, I above.  Ref: Thurlow-Vecchi 70a (18 specimens recorded); Crawford 41/5b; Haeberlin pl 50, 25-28. Very rare with prow right. Good Very Fine, green patina with earthen highlights. Ex Spink's Auction 78 (10 October 1990), Lot 86. Ex CNG 46 (24 Jun 1998), Lot 939.

image.jpeg.8f3f6c4d717bbd504d40a40219499cae.jpeg

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great thread and i believe that Claudius As is about the finest portrait i've seen..:)..i have many coins that match that description of giving a better feeling than a snickers bar :p.^^...here's a couple three that made my day when acquired 😄  denarii of the men who fought in the 1st of the many civil wars to come and would change the course of Roman history...Marius & Sulla

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snickers.jpg

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  • Benefactor

I bought this coin at a baseball game. While perusing an auction during slow action, I noticed this one. The Olympics for 336 BCE - the year Alexander the Great became king? Yes please! Then I received sticker shock upon investigating what these normally go for, so I placed a lowball bid and didn't even bother to watch the auction. And I won it! I don't care that it's a bit rough. It's a huge piece of history and a major part of my collection.

678A0631-Edit.jpg.78d205a6248f45c7f2f8545a795ad029.jpg

ELIS, Olympia. 111th Olympiad
336 BCE
AR Stater 22mm, 11.63 g, 6h
Hera mint. Head of Hera right, wearing ornamented stephanos inscribed [FAΛEI]Ω[N] / Eagle standing left, head right, wings spread, on rock; all within wreath.
Seltman, Temple 341–5 var. (dies FG/–); BCD Olympia 159 (same obv. die); HGC 5, 394.
Ex CNG

 

I'd wanted a representation of Mithridates VI for my 'Kingdoms after Alexander' collection, but I didn't have the budget for his nice tets. His coinage was vast and extremely common, but I wanted that perfect coin. That's when I found this one - a rare bronze with a portrait. When I redo my photography setup, this will be one of my first subjects as the photo does it no justice. This is a nice looking coin.

678A3496-Edit.jpg.61f3a67c48a30b854baaa17e2f8d070c.jpg

Kings of Pontos. Mithradates VI (120-63 BC)
Ionia. Smyrna. Hermogenes and Phrixos, magistrates
85-75 BCE 24.14mm 12.54g
Obverse: Diademed head of Mithradates VI right
Reverse: ZMYPNAIΩN - EPMOΓΕΝΗΣ - ΦΡΙΞΟΣ, Nike standing right, holding wreath and palm frond
SNG Copenhagen 1206
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

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Mine is probably this one:

 

image.jpeg.25f220c354f01c60d47350bdd929f379.jpeg

 

Promagisterial Cistophori. Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther as Proconsul of Cilicia. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm. Laodicea on the Lycus, 56-53 BC. Anaxagoras son of Artemidoros, magistrate. Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / P · LENTVLVS · P · F · PRO · COS. Two serpents entwined by a bow case. In the left field, ΛΑΟ. In the exergue, ΑΝΑΞΑΓΟΡ[ΑΣ] / ΑΡΤΕΜΙ[ΔΩΡΟΥ]. 26 mm, 12.03 g. Stumpf -; Metcalf -. Unpublished. One of only two known: cf. Nomos, Web 16. Lot 872 (Hammer 600 CHF). Overstruck on a previous cistophor from Laodicea.

 

I'm wild about cistophori general but especially so when it comes to these promagisterial issues. This coin continues to be a source of great satisfaction for a few different reasons, here are the key takeaways:

 

  • It's unpublished.
  • It has been overstruck on an older cistophor from Laodicea.
  • It's by far the finest known (considering there are only two examples known, perhaps that isn't so impressive eh?)
  • The bidding was intense and also very enjoyable.

 

When it comes to the cistophori issued by Roman governors in Asia Minor, two references are primarily used. These are Stumpf's Numismatische Studien zur Chronologie der römischen Statthalter in Kleinasien (1994) and Metcalf's Later Republican Cistophori (2017). Both works try to extensively catalogue each and every type in the series and considering Metcalf's die study was only released in 2017 this is quite a find! Numismatically, it adds insight into the beginning of Lentulus' time as Proconsul in Cilicia (He was quite early in his term hailed as imperator and from then on seems to have only issued coins using that title). Previously, we knew of only one other type that employed the title PRO · COS instead of IMP/IMPERATOR. 

 

While the rambling above might put the average collector to sleep, this coin also provides a caveat that is perhaps a little more appealing to the masses. It's actually overstruck and not only that, there is discernible traces of the undertype. Now most everyone who is familiar with cistophori would know that overstrikes are not that uncommon. However, this is the first instance of the practice I've found on a promagisterial cistophor.

10719777_unknown(9).png.9b7ed07179722986d9527e6a4307a1b5.png

Highlighted detail of the undertype. It shows what remains of a a winged kerykeion commonly employed on cistophori from the mint at Laodicea.

 

unknown.png.20768dfa36597ee34e23f162d91c6e77.png

A civic cistophor from Laodicea showing the winged kerykeion in the right field.

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Great coins. And a great feeling to see a coin in your collection that is there for a long time but still makes you smile and you feel the urge to study it again and again.

There are 2 types of acquisitions that I find very satisfying.

First category - coins that I have on my radar for months (I would say years but I only have 2 years of collecting 🙂 ). They don't appear every day, and when they do, they are expensive and/or the condition is not good enough. Or I lose them. And finally, they appear, I notice them long before the auction, I check the auction multiple times daily and when the coin is live, I get it with a satisfying price (best scenario - nobody seems to notice it). Who doesn't love that feeling when you wait for a coin to be live for 2-3 weeks and you see it's finally yours and the bidding war you were expecting didn't take place?

image.png.fd6b838546d048355be5c2fed4386131.png

T. Carisius (ca. 46 BC). AR denarius. Rome. 20 mm 3.33 g. MONETA, head of Juno Moneta right, wearing pendant earring and necklace; dotted border / T•CARISIVS, wreathed cap of Vulcan (or garlanded punch die) over anvil (or anvil die), between tongs (on left) and hammer (on right); all within wreath. Crawford 464/2. Sydenham 982b. Carisia 1b.

Second type of satisfying coins are the ones I was not particularily after (a certain type) and when an auction is live, I notice them and quickly decide the coin is badly needed. And the price is again good!

The most recent example is this Geta coin as Augustus - I wanted a type but I was not decided about one, since I wanted an uncommon reverse. I was in an auction and for some reason I missed this when preparing the wish list

image.png.13f848c3bfb1e89e69cd9cea023b50f6.png

GETA. (209-212). Rome. Denarius. 18 mm, 3.1 g

Obv: P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT. Laureate head right. / Rev : TR P III COS II P P. Janus standing facing, holding sceptre and thunderbolt.

BMC 12; RSC 197a; RIC 79

Edited by ambr0zie
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8 hours ago, Numisnewbie said:

This is a very common and inexpensive coin, but it was very satisfying to me, because it's a die match to the example I had previously but had parted with. I regretted having parted ways with the original coin, and was pretty happy to find this die match to bring the coin back to me.

JuliaDomna.png.743c3d4e469d476cb70c4a3d9691b574.png

 

This is the coin I'd had previously:

domna.jpg.be491855ee0bd610682c44ca642b6813.jpg

 

A double-die match! Nice!

 

 

7 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

I'm a big believer in understanding any topic by studying its intellectual history, so for numismatics that means being interested in old collections and collectors, books, articles, and catalogs.

My most rewarding coins are the ones where I found a lost provenance to an important old collection or piece of literature that might've otherwise been lost forever (or possibly for generations). I can also feel as if I've preserved a few tiny bits of lost numismatic history in the process of collecting.

This one, most of all, since I'd had the coin for 30 years before I discovered it was in the Dr. S. Pozzi (1846-1918) Collection. I've told the story before, but it was one of my first coins, and I could always tell it had been in an old collection, but had no provenance until about a year ago:

image.png.9af346449f21fbffd1b1a5bdfd7d05b6.png

 

More recently, when I bought this coin, there was virtually no provenance, and CNG (EA 505 [2021], 361) and RPC (10362, now corrected) both had it described as only the second known example, after the Giovanni Dattari (1858-1923) Collection specimen. As it happens, I have a copy of the 2007 Dattari-Savio volume illustrating >13,200 of his coins for just this purpose. It turned out to be the Dattari specimen (making it still the only known). Two things I'd still like to know, when was this coin sold by Harlan J Berk (who correctly noted on the old ticket that it was the Dattari coin) and whose dealer ticket is that below:

image.png.0cbc037070077821af08268b5552c824.png

image.jpeg.90af015a3dc1b49a52ced3f675d53f09.jpeg

 

The lost provenance isn't always so old. This one had entirely lost its provenance when I saw it for sale, but I recognized it as BCD Thessaly II 218 (the BCD Collection of Thessaly, Part II, sold at Triton XV in 2012). The BCD catalog didn't give any prior provenance, but I was able to trace it to the Thessaly 1993 Hoard (CH IX 64) and several publications by Catharine Lorber and colleagues (I added them in the ACSearch comments linked)

image.jpeg.d8a41c9021c2db26725a520779082618.jpeg

 

I'm very familiar with the BCD Collection catalogs (there are 10 major ones, plus several "supplements" and many minor sales), so I have several others like that, all of which are very satisfying.

But sometimes it's just as satisfying to find information that BCD himself missed, despite having a world class library and personal knowledge of the ancient coin world. And especially since I view his collection as a source of inspiration. (As I've said before, I'll enjoy my small victories when I find them!)

BCD had included the Messene Triobol below's (BCD Peloponnesos II 2327) provenance to a Stack's 1979 sale (but neglected to mention that it was the John Sawhill (1892-1976) Collection, which had been bequeathed to John Madison University). Both Sawhill/JMU Catalog and BCD Peloponnesos II failed to recognize that this coin was from the important old collection of the German textile magnate Heinrich Otto, Jr. (1856-1931), better known as "Sammlung Kommerzienrat H. Otto, Stuttgart," from Adolph Hess 207 in 1931:

image.png.f3915aab7b7e96a537caf36d9ab55048.png

image.jpeg.e9dbcedb09f4f0b73a9c3273eba74eba.jpegimage.jpeg.9ab7ee425a8d6f8df8a5884b54d4b7ff.jpeg

 

 

I could keep going on and on and on (even more than I have), but you get the idea. It's hard to say which is the most satisfying (after the Corinth Stater), but all of these rank near the top.

 

Great story with the Corinth Stater! Must be like discovering a new treasure to find such an old and significant provenance, especially after having it so long.

 

So many great coins being posted everyone! 

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@kirispupis Beautiful toning on that Olympia stater. Now if only you had been at the Olympics instead of a baseball game when you bought it. 😉 

@zadie That is really interesting! Cool over-strike. Thanks for sharing the inside history!

@ominus1  Great coins from a pivotal moment in history! Congrats!

@Edessa That's one of the sharpest Aes grave coins I've seen. In particular, the obverse reminds me of some Celtic styles. Very nice!

@ambr0zie I've also been watching for a T. Carisius denarius. Your example is great. Not all of them have such a nice reverse (and the ones that do tend to be $$$ 😬)

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I'm sure I'm not the only one that has struggled to answer this question, because there are so many possible candidates. I eventually settled on this unpretentious little bronze from Gambrion. I have many more expensive coins, many rarer coins and many coins with more interesting designs but this coin was the first really small coin that I bought. Before I bought it, I had an unthinking bias against coins smaller than, say, 13mm. I just never considered them, probably because I felt they would be too 'fiddly'. But after I bought this, all that changed. This coin is slightly less than 9mm. Really tiny, yet I think it would be of fine style regardless of the size of the coin. To engrave that into a 9mm space is astonishing, and all of that for a common bronze coin. AmbrOzie put it well - there are some coins that just make you smile and feel the urge to study them again and again. That is exactly what happened with me and this coin and as a result I now have a significant number of Greek bronzes between 9 and 13mm and they are a key focus for my future collecting.

Gambrion.jpg.d47d6ee35fdb88dd2246c3b3304f6ef7.jpg

Mysia, Gambrion.

4th century BC.

Laureate head of Apollo right / Bull butting left.

SNG France 896-899; SNG Copenhagen 156.

1.03g, 9mm.

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Even though new to ancients collecting, plus not having many coins yet, if it wasn.t for the generosity of a then CT member in offering this as a prize in a competition, I would still just be admiring from afar your beautiful coins. So regardless of future acquisitions, this will always be my most satisfying.

1183769175_AntoninusPius.jpg.5cdc0561598b5031682aa29756d8891a.jpg

 

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This is one of my more satisfying coins

Ae Sestertius of Hadrian 119-120 AD Obv Bust of Hadrian right laureate drapery on far shoulder Rv. Lictor standing left setting fire to tax records with three citizens celebrating to left. RIC 592a RIC II/3 264  25. 61 grms 34 mm Phot by W. Hansenhadrians9.jpeg.24de679acc7f3ea5f51a37e230c837cd.jpeg

This is one of those coins that has a great story. Hadrian's decision to forgive all overdue taxes and destroy those records is probably a fantasy that can be enjoyed by any citizen especially during the month of April.  However the coin is rather scarce. So it was with some surprise to be able to purchase this specimen at the Numismata in Frankfurt in November of 2015. Besides the reverse which is truly interesting the portrait features the earlier image of Hadrian that shows a great deal of his chest. This portrait style is a legacy from some of the latter images of his predecessor Trajan.  Besides this coin that whole trip was special. It was my first solo trip to Europe, and  I got to attend my first major European Auction in person, So very satisfying.

Edited by kapphnwn
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I pondered buying this coin a long time, and luckily no-one else did. The dealer's photos made it look undewhelming. It turned out to be much nicer. In fact, it comes out differently every time I photograph it, and never as dull as the original photos.

Eadberht Class Di Series Y Secondary Sceat, 737-758
image.png.a8a92f1f93de006032ec94780ed50136.png
York. Silver, 1.00g. Fantastic animal left, cross under tail and triquetra below. Large cross in centre; .EOTBEREhTVF (S 847).

image.png.c471379c8ebffb32f6c435b68870740c.png

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