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What makes a coin attractive


Limes
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What attracts you to a coin is completely relative and dependent on someones personal preferences and desires. Despite it's issues, this green sestertius of Septimius Severus that I acquired earlier this year is a coin that appealed to me the moment I saw it. I had the advantage of holding this coin in hand before the auction, and I'm glad I did. Based merely on the photo's, I would have skipped it. But in hand, the coin absolutely comes alive. The brighter green in the fields and the darker green of high points of the coin give it a mesmerizing 3D effect in hand, and make the portrait of Septimius Severus jump out. On the other hand, the coin has some serious issues. The obverse is overall worn, and the reverse shows a serious case of corrosion at the edges, some pitting in the fields, and none of the lettering remains. I bet these are (also) the reasons many other collectors did not jump on the betting wagon. Which brings me back to my point: what makes a coin attractive is different for everyone. 

A short note on the coin itself. It's an early issue of the - at that time - new emperor, Septimius Severus (193 - 211), and could be the first issue of the Rome mint. The coin was struck in 193 AD, at a time when Pertinax was murdered, Didius Julianus bought his way to the purple, and the legions of Syria proclaimed Pescennius Niger as emperor. Septimius Severus would defeat Pescennius Niger at the Battle of Issus in 194 AD. The reverse of the coin (not on my issue though) states 'FIDEI LEG. T-R P COS/ S|C', and appeals to the loyalty of the legions. On the reverse Fides holds a vexillum, a legionary standard with a flag at the top. It's a different standard than the aquila (with the eagle on the top of the standard) or the signum (which shows discs on the top). Some descriptions of this coin however describe the standard shown on the reverse as a signum, in stead of a vexillum. 

Please show me your coins that you found attractive, despite the issues! 

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I find I'm less forgiving of Roman Empire coins than almost anything else. I think it's because there are a lot to choose from with similar designs, which tend to stick to the emperor/deity format. Usually, the rarity of the emperor or design will save it, but for some reason I like this not-very-rare and rather smudged Honorius.

Honorius Siliqua, 407-408
image.png.44630f330e9a2f2dc247638fb93fa6fb.pngRome. Silver, 1.06g. Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; D N HONORIVS P F AVG. Roma seated left on cuirass holding Victory on globe and resting on spear; VIRTVS ROMANORVM; mintmark RM PS in exergue (RIC X, 1267). Found Cambridgeshire.

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This coin is fairly rare (if it is indeed Flavius Victor, which I think it has to be from what remains of the legend). I like it because it's clipped, seemingly by the Saxons, but still apparently attributable and otherwise in good condition. The damage is it's history.

Flavius Victor Clipped Siliqua, 387-388
image.png.67fb67e34b7ae682b867db53180b4a17.pngMilan. Silver, 10mm, 0.68g (cut down from 16-17mm, 1.25-1.8g). Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; D N FL VIC-(TOR P F AVG). Roma seated left, holding globe in right hand, reversed spear in left, (VIRTVS RO-M)ANORVM; mintmark MDPS (RIC IX, 19b). From the South Ferriby (Lincolnshire) Hoard 1909. Portable Antiquities Scheme IARCH-1C7D3F.

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I've posted this rather ruined coin a few times on threads about ruined coins. I love it because Claudius has been smashed in the face with a countermark and seemingly tossed into a river where it lay for 2000 years. This mottled green would attract a premium in stonework, but less so coins. Yet now I have it. It's nice and big too.

Claudius Sestertius with PROB Countermark, 41-50
image.png.71bc5ff4f6a612d16459fc6f6bc2f8f7.pngRome. Bronze, 24.75g. Laureate head right; TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP. Oak-wreath; EX SC OB CIVES SERVATOS (RIC I, 96). After the conquest of AD42, large quantities of early OB CIVES SERVATOS (without PP) were issued for Britain, all countermarked PROB.

Edited by John Conduitt
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That is a very attractive obverse with what we term 'eye appeal'.  The fact is many high grade coins are quite ugly.  I always liked coins with contrasting fields but many are a bit artificial having been polished down on the high points and left dark in the fields.  I also prefer coins with legends so my example of the same FIDEI LEG TRP COS SC type was doubly appealing even though it is Fine at best.  Do I see an eagle on that staff?

rj4790bb0111.jpg.55a15e0758754e2d6747e62615eaaa86.jpg

 

One of my first contrasty coins was a Commodus sestertius that suffered what I was taught to call 'brick' cleaning (having parallel scratches named for a tendency of archaeologists a few years back who would reveal the ID of a coin by rubbing it on a brick).  When coins only are seen to have value to date other finds, such things happen.  However, I'm not sure that this is any worse than wholesale zapping of coins stripping them of all their surfaces and eye appeal in short order. 

rc2700b01394lg.jpg.3dc291a0c555fd825d97e4b067c75bb8.jpg

 

Another thing suffered by some sestertii is 'natural' polish from being carried as a pocket piece as was fashionable in the past by gentlemen of culture.  This Galba must have spent decades in a pocket sharing space with spending money of the then current variety.  Certainly such polished appearance can be achieved in a less natural way but, like 'brick cleaned', I consider 'pocket piece' a term to describe a certain 'look' whether or not it accurately diagnoses the situation.  Coin collectors had a language even before it was made numeric with MS 5/5 5/5.  When I was a teen collector, such things were picked up talking to the old men who ran coin shops 'one flight up' downtown in larger cities.  I wish I remembered any of the names of these men in Indianapolis who introduced ne to ancient coins in the 1960's.  All were simply 'Sir' then. 

rb1160b00420alg.jpg.a2032045771991d833c9de74b107f1d4.jpg

 

I also once collected fourrees (before people started paying more for them than they are worth to me).  Of my plated coins, top position goes to pieces where the core exposure follows the design of the coin rather than having random peeling.  This Byzantine solidus looks good to me at least partly because of the contrasting outline of copper down below.

rz0470bb0432.jpg.544fd160020ba78887e047d0a702cc8d.jpg

Finally, there are faults that start adding interest simply because they are so severe.  Many coins have flan cracks.  This Gordian III sestertius became interesting centuries before anyone thought it looked like Pac-Man. 

 ro0650bb0185.jpg.9fbd1e30472968b003ea8acc30313421.jpg

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1 hour ago, Limes said:

28.4.png.bc7b0a04aa5a08f4ddc7a67c8de479c4.png

What attracts you to a coin is completely relative and dependent on someones personal preferences and desires. Despite it's issues, this green sestertius of Septimius Severus that I acquired earlier this year is a coin that appealed to me the moment I saw it. I had the advantage of holding this coin in hand before the auction, and I'm glad I did. Based merely on the photo's, I would have skipped it. But in hand, the coin absolutely comes alive. The brighter green in the fields and the darker green of high points of the coin give it a mesmerizing 3D effect in hand, and make the portrait of Septimius Severus jump out. On the other hand, the coin has some serious issues. The obverse is overall worn, and the reverse shows a serious case of corrosion at the edges, some pitting in the fields, and none of the lettering remains. I bet these are (also) the reasons many other collectors did not jump on the betting wagon. Which brings me back to my point: what makes a coin attractive is different for everyone. 

A short note on the coin itself. It's an early issue of the - at that time - new emperor, Septimius Severus (193 - 211), and could be the first issue of the Rome mint. The coin was struck in 193 AD, at a time when Pertinax was murdered, Didius Julianus bought his way to the purple, and the legions of Syria proclaimed Pescennius Niger as emperor. Septimius Severus would defeat Pescennius Niger at the Battle of Issus in 194 AD. The reverse of the coin (not on my issue though) states 'FIDEI LEG. T-R P COS/ S|C', and appeals to the loyalty of the legions. On the reverse Fides holds a vexillum, a legionary standard with a flag at the top. It's a different standard than the aquila (with the eagle on the top of the standard) or the signum (which shows discs on the top). Some descriptions of this coin however describe the standard shown on the reverse as a signum, in stead of a vexillum. 

Please show me your coins that you found attractive, despite the issues! 

Limes, You scored a very handsome sestertius at a bargain price ☺️! Your photo looks much more attractive than the Heritage photo. Your coin looks like a solid VF, & the softness of the reverse seems more like die wear versus circulation wear. Many of his sestertii have a weak reverse. I've been a serious fan of Severus after reading Anthony Birley's book Septimius Severus, The African Emperor 30 years ago, & was determined to find an example of his sestertius depicting the goddess Africa. Last year I scored the example pictured below ☺️.

1282412979_SeptimiusSeverusAESestertius(3).jpg.b28bc8c2ec04363288e3c81e4473f816.jpg

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This sestertius was issued posthumously for Faustina the Younger to commemorate her consecration and apotheosis. I was attracted by this coin's subject matter and the lovely, leather-like patina.

[IMG]
Diva Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 25.23 g, 30.2 mm, 11 h.
Rome, early AD 176.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA PIA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO S C, Faustina II carried by an eagle flying left, holding transverse scepter in her right hand and with veil decorated with stars floating above her head.
Ref: RIC 1701; BMC 1572; Cohen 68; RCV 5226; MIR –; Cayón p.153, 32.
 
 
Edited by Roman Collector
Grievous crimes against the comma.
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Worn and beaten as it is, it screamed buy me and I couldn't say no. When I open the tray and that emerald patina catches the light, I fall in love with it over again

291654899_20220921_103701(2).jpg.8878e2605084c661f19114c8dd1e323b.jpg1290407601_20220921_103953(2).jpg.79b6f7d1f8b0b2f2a3fe29067ea9f1ca.jpg

Trajan ae dupondius AD 98-117

27mm, 13.15g, Struck AD 104

IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVE GER DAC P M TRP COS V PP
radiate bust right with aegis on left shoulder

SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI SC trophy with two shields at base.

RIC 586 Cohen 573 Woytek 196cA

Natural emerald green toning with earthy hues

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thanks for sharing your beauties in all their glory.

That Solidus of yours is particulary appealing dougsmit. I have not seen such a fourree before, where the copper is seen mainly at high points of the coin. As if it were on purpose, to make the coin more expressive. The yellow and green also form a perfect mix. (But I have to say fourree's or Byzantine coins are not my main interest.) Regarding your shown pocket piece; I dont know much about the history of the coin below, but its interesting to note that the higher points of the coin below are smooth, and of a lighter colour brown, than the fields around it. In hand, the lighter brown areas look polished as well. I doubt this was a pocket piece though, it's not all that worn. In terms of the look of the coin in hand, the effect of the colouring is similar to the Septimius Severus' sesterius: the portrait just jumps out. 

22.2.png.9ca507fd18b0a5d95b6a338933f7b7a1.png

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4 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

Limes, You scored a very handsome sestertius at a bargain price ☺️! Your photo looks much more attractive than the Heritage photo. Your coin looks like a solid VF, & the softness of the reverse seems more like die wear versus circulation wear. Many of his sestertii have a weak reverse. I've been a serious fan of Severus after reading Anthony Birley's book Septimius Severus, The African Emperor 30 years ago, & was determined to find an example of his sestertius depicting the goddess Africa. Last year I scored the example pictured below ☺️.

1282412979_SeptimiusSeverusAESestertius(3).jpg.b28bc8c2ec04363288e3c81e4473f816.jpg

 

Thank you! And that's an amazing coin, you scored. The portrait is great, I like the cuirrassed bust. And the reverse is very iconic. 

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Usually I place a high premium on a coin’s condition when deliberating about its purchase, so it is rare that I purchase a worn one.   Sometimes the subject or the historical importance elevates the coin enough to overcome my biases against wear.

The first coin is one I recognized in Andy Singer’s trays at a coin show in Boston, as having come from the Subjack collection auctioned by Italo Vecchi.  It’s a Merovingian coin imitating a solidus of Anastasius.  The portrait hits me like a trumpet blast, signaling the demise of the classical world.  Wherever Clovis and company are going, we are leaving the Classical Greco-Roman world.   Rome is not in charge any longer.   image.jpeg.811c3c1c4700d24064238e49df480cd5.jpeg

The next worn coin is a stater of Gortyna.  It overcame any defect in condition because of it’s historical importance.  It depicts Europa reclining in a plane tree, after her transport to Crete by Zeus in the form of a bull.   The abduction of Europa is one of the Ur-myths of Europe, an echo perhaps of the migration of pastoralists and farmers into wild Neolithic Europe from the Middle East.  

image.jpeg.6dcc8ded7e49fe13ea6e092ec50abfee.jpeg

Europa appears to be framed on this coin because it was overstruck on a stater of the nearby town of Gortyna.

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Yes it really is an individual preference but that's a sweet looking coin @Limes...

This A.P. Dupondius appealed to me as soon as I saw it...Lovely olive green patina.

normal_Mr3H5XGt9bB68izFoJr2K7AjkK849D.jpg.e4e80676d24a07dc004b4fa31d5ead0b.jpg

But also this leathery chocolate brown patina on this M.A Sestertius.

2006352988_normal_eYQ45kLiX2oztMy79cNm5r6JRKa3N8_(1)(2).jpg.11121e10e0112c855df7de5e2649d702.jpg

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13 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

Limes, You scored a very handsome sestertius at a bargain price ☺️! Your photo looks much more attractive than the Heritage photo. Your coin looks like a solid VF, & the softness of the reverse seems more like die wear versus circulation wear. Many of his sestertii have a weak reverse. I've been a serious fan of Severus after reading Anthony Birley's book Septimius Severus, The African Emperor 30 years ago, & was determined to find an example of his sestertius depicting the goddess Africa. Last year I scored the example pictured below ☺️.

1282412979_SeptimiusSeverusAESestertius(3).jpg.b28bc8c2ec04363288e3c81e4473f816.jpg

 

Nice coin! I have the denarius version: 

africa_eur80_r.jpg.da0bdf6f99f3c16f3194a84901a127a8.jpgafrica_eur80.jpg.72f26a48484964c45b25fc0fddaaed9a.jpg

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Great topic, @Limes!  I love that sestertius too.  Your photo has captured some of that neat 3D effect you describe on the obverse. 

My contribution: sometimes encrustations are beautiful.  I just had to have this denarius!!  (I regard the entire surface minus the device highlights as "encrusted" though one might also think of the surfaces as "patinated silver."  The colours in the photo are accurate.) (I like the contemplative portrait too.)

image.jpeg.e1e68a27ad7fb6e481c67bfd44e81bb4.jpeg

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That OP sestertius is beautiful

The following sestertius is worn smooth, which gives it an attractive softness. Plus, the portrait style is awesome. I love it

448cab99e3db4c55a4ff8818906676c4.jpg

Lucilla, Sestertius - Rome mint, circa 164-166 AD
LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, Draped bust right
VENVS, Venus standing left, holding an apple and raising drapery from left shoulder, SC in field
24.42 gr
Ref : Cohen # 77, RCV # 5507

Q

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15 hours ago, Hrefn said:

Usually I place a high premium on a coin’s condition when deliberating about its purchase, so it is rare that I purchase a worn one.   Sometimes the subject or the historical importance elevates the coin enough to overcome my biases against wear.

The first coin is one I recognized in Andy Singer’s trays at a coin show in Boston, as having come from the Subjack collection auctioned by Italo Vecchi.  It’s a Merovingian coin imitating a solidus of Anastasius.  The portrait hits me like a trumpet blast, signaling the demise of the classical world.  Wherever Clovis and company are going, we are leaving the Classical Greco-Roman world.   Rome is not in charge any longer.   image.jpeg.811c3c1c4700d24064238e49df480cd5.jpeg

The next worn coin is a stater of Gortyna.  It overcame any defect in condition because of it’s historical importance.  It depicts Europa reclining in a plane tree, after her transport to Crete by Zeus in the form of a bull.   The abduction of Europa is one of the Ur-myths of Europe, an echo perhaps of the migration of pastoralists and farmers into wild Neolithic Europe from the Middle East.  

image.jpeg.6dcc8ded7e49fe13ea6e092ec50abfee.jpeg

Europa appears to be framed on this coin because it was overstruck on a stater of the nearby town of Gortyna.

The only thing we have in common is Andy Singer who remains my favorite dealer after the passing of Don Zauche.  I would love to have a coin like the ones you showed but I most certainly would value them enough that I would show both sides.  You might be interested in a recent podcast on YouTube by Aaron Berk where he features a high grade but barely identifiable as overstruck Europa.  I wonder if this entire issue was overstruck with some not showing it at all and some real messes with the undertype more clear than the last use. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330092957_Overstriking_at_Gortyna_insights_and_new_perspectives_in_Proceedings_of_the_12th_International_Congress_of_Cretan_Studies_Heraklion_2018

"The next worn coin is a stater of Gortyna."    //////   " it was overstruck on a stater of the nearby town of Gortyna."

 

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I also wanted to join in on this thread here.

In order to better understand the topic - I thought - I would ask my girlfriend "Honey - what actually makes a woman attractive? 

Ok - since then I haven't had a quiet minute to participate here. 

 


PS: Nice coins you have here...

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I have to thank @dougsmitfor pointing out my error on the stater of Gortyna featuring Europa.  It was overstruck on a coin of Lyttos, a nearby city in central Crete.   I read the referenced paper with great interest.  Here is an example of the undertype (not my coin)image.jpeg.6cbe6f5629109d21a763ed939af01a18.jpegimage.png.36702069c6f98f16ed69a0626ce154f8.png

and here is the OBV again.  And the REV:image.png.f44314f4d903550c067bbdf58f1523bc.png

Apologies for the error.   This is my only Greek coin.   

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On 10/1/2022 at 12:38 PM, John Conduitt said:

This coin is fairly rare (if it is indeed Flavius Victor, which I think it has to be from what remains of the legend). I like it because it's clipped, seemingly by the Saxons, but still apparently attributable and otherwise in good condition. The damage is it's history.

Is there actually evidence that these late Roman silver coins were clipped by Saxons? I even read that people think that they were cut to match the silver Sceatta of the early 8th century.

Personally, I think these coins were not in circulation in the 7th or 8th centuries. Instead, I think they were clipped by the Romano-British people in the early 5th century, after the legions and the administration had withdrawn from Britain in AD 410. The events around that year probably cut off the supply of fresh silver coins to Britain and people lowered the silver standard by physically reducing the weight of the existing coins.

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7 minutes ago, Tejas said:

Is there actually evidence that these late Roman silver coins were clipped by Saxons? I even read that people think that they were cut to match the silver Sceatta of the early 8th century.

Personally, I think these coins were not in circulation in the 7th or 8th centuries. Instead, I think they were clipped by the Romano-British people in the early 5th century, after the legions and the administration had withdrawn from Britain in AD 410. The events around that year probably cut off the supply of fresh silver coins to Britain and people lowered the silver standard by physically reducing the weight of the existing coins.

That's a complex question. The problem here is that no coins struck later than 410 are found in British hoards. So there is rarely any way to date them - they could have been buried in 410 or 600 (or both).

But as far as I know, no-one thinks clipped siliquae circulated in Britain in the 6th century, let alone the 7th or 8th centuries. By the late 400s the use of coins had (probably) completely stopped and they were melted down to form ingots (which had the same composition as the siliquae). Hacksilver was the medium of exchange for 150 years.

So the question isn't so much when as by who. It could have been the Romano-Britons. The supply of silver stopped very abruptly with the closure of northern European mints. But the reason to suspect the Saxons is that the hoards - of clipped siliquae and siliquae in general - are found in England along the east coast, especially the south east, and rarely anywhere else. This is precisely where the Saxons arrived and occupied, and had been arriving even before 410. Many clipped siliquae found in hoards are very worn, as if they were clipped long after minting, perhaps into the 430s or later.

It may have been that the Saxons were originally mercinaries hired by the Romano-Britons in the power vacuum. The coins may even have been plunder stolen from the Britons. So the question of who clipped them becomes even more complicated. But the point about them being cut to match Saxon coins is not in respect to 7th century English sceattas, but against earlier Germanic Roman imitations (which happened to lead to the sceatta).

That's not to say it wan't the Romano-Britons. They were around until at least 500. Presumably, by then the difference was becoming blurred.

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