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Top 10 bronze coins 2022 - coins with a heart


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As I previously mentioned, I picked up ~190 coins in the last year and roughly 170 of them were bronzes.

Therefore, competition was fierce this year to reach my bronze top 10 and there was a lot of chatter in the collection. When I caught my Constantius II tracking my Thessalian coins, I knew it was time to do something a bit different.

I had earlier debated whether to show my most beautiful coins (the choice which won in voting) or my rarest coins. For the most beautiful, I was to wait until the weekend because I have a number of nice pieces newly arrived from the J. Greiff collection that would have made the list. For the rarest coins, I was to hold off for a few weeks because I have a Pedasa and Psophis on the way. However, I chose a third option.

Below are the coins that meant the most to me. I picked each of them for sentimental reasons, or because they triggered something inside me.

Feel free to post your own coins that 'just got you'!

#1 Celtic Treveri

I've debated showing this coin, primarily because my photo of it looks like shit. You'll have to trust me that the priestly implements are actually visible on the coin in hand. Most believe this was minted with the Gauls by Aulus Hirtus, and is an imitation of Caesar's famous elephant coinage. I picked this up due to my Luxembourgish heritage. Although the Treveri didn't limit themselves to Luxembourg's borders, many of the settlements found from them are within the current Grand Duchy.

As some of you know, I have Luxembourgish citizenship and take great pride in it. In a recent 23AndMe test, I came back as 50% German/French - which is pretty much spot on since my mother is Luxembourgish. How much of that is Treveri? That's difficult to know due to the numerous migrations that later occurred, but I did read a study that showed that modern day Luxembourg has a higher percentage of Celtic DNA compared to neighboring Belgium and France. Also, from tracing my family history, they stayed remarkably in the same place. I'd long figured that my relatives in Echternach "flowed" into Germany since the borders were soft then and it was just across the river (where the Roman city of Treveri was). However, I found that they remarkably stayed within that area for at least 300 years. Those in the north (Clervaux) also stayed close to home. In fact, the only reason my great-grandmother and great-grandfather met each other, despite growing up 50 km from each other, is because they both moved to the US and met in a small town there.

So, this is the only coin where there's a reasonable chance that one of my ancestors touched it.


Celtic Gaul. Treveri.
50-30 BCE
AE 16.51mm 3.23g
Obverse: Elephant walking right, trampling on horned serpent
Reverse: Simpulum, sprinkler, axe (surmounted by a wolf's head), and apex (priest's hat)
De la Tour 9235, RPC I 501
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

#2 Pergamon Trophy

As many of you know, I buy my coins off lists. This coin wasn't on any of them. I just absolutely loved the reverse. In fact, this reverse helped spark me to write my current novel - which will likely be divided into three. I can just somehow visualize this coat of arms blowing on some lone plains. Perhaps in the future, it may also spark a new subcollection. I've been tempted to build a collection of Pergamon coinage due to its interesting mintage, but I've held back due to budgeting.

Technically, the other side of my family is from near Pergamon, as my great-grandfather was born in Izmir. In this case, though, I highly doubt that my ancestors lived in the city, because my family on that side spent roughly a thousand years in Spain until they were booted by the Catholics. The Ottomans were kind enough to take them in and my family lived there in peace for nearly 500 years. From my 23AndMe heritage, I can see that the Sephardic side of my heritage is a bit of a mutt itself. I'd long figured that they were uprooted by the Romans and shipped to Spain, but I now believe that history is far more complicated and my ancestors on that side may have been Phoenicians.

Regardless, this coin has generated a lot of emotion and discussion within me.


Mysia, Pergamon
133-27 BCE
AE 21.76mm 7.50g
Obverse: Helmeted head of Athena right
Reverse: ΑΘΗΝΑΣ - ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, trophy of armor
SNG France 1893
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

#3 Zialias

I've often been jealous when @David Athertondigs up some fascinating coin that are ultra-rare and incredibly historic from a seller whose wares I'd been through many times. I admittedly don't have that level of knowledge - especially about Roman coins. However, I immediately latched on when I saw this Ziailas. Of course, I can't say I was the only one. Bidding was fierce and it remains the most I've paid for a bronze. Still, I'm immensely proud of it, since there are only a handful of Ziailas coins in private hands and AFAICT this is the best of the type.

This coin also pushed me to expand my collection. I'd earlier limited my Bithynian coinage to Nikomedes I, since everyone else was much later to be among the Diadochi. However, since I'd just picked up easily the toughest one, I felt it natural to go after the rest and eventually create a "link" to my Roman collection. And since I was going for Bithynian, why not Cappadocian, Lagid, and Seleukid? This coin really opened it all up.


Kings of Bithynia. Ziailas, circa 250-230 BCE
AE 18 mm, 4.89 g, 1 h
Diademed head of Ziailas to right. Rev. BAΣIΛE[ΩΣ] / ZIAHΛA Tropy of arms. Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage, 416. SNG von Aulock 243
Ex Obolos October 2020
Ex Leu

#4 Prusias II

This may be the only time I deliberately paid too much for a coin, but is also the only coin I bought in person. While visiting Paris, I noticed I wasn't far from CGB. I'd been debating this Prusias II for a while (a consequence of my earlier Ziailas purchase). I'd decided on a centaur obverse, because centaurs are awesome. So, I walked over to their store, asked to see the coin in my best French, and picked up a little Parisian souvenir. I feel it's a far better choice than one of those silly Eiffel Towers (though I'm in the process of building a 5 ft Lego tower for my office). This is easily one of the best souvenirs I've ever picked up.


Kings of Bithynia. Prusias II
AE Unit 20.5mm 6.41g 12h
c. 180-150 BCE
Laffaille430 var. - Cop.- - Aulock6886 var. - RG.26 - BMC.- - HGCS. 7/629
0avers : Buste imberbe, juvénile et drapé de Dionysos (Bacchus) à droite, couronné de feuilles de vigne.
0revers : Le Centaure Chiron à droite, la tête de face, jouant de la lyre, sa tunique flottant derrière.

#5 Derdas II

I must admit it's easy to get confident at times. I've read so many books on Philip, Alexander, and the Diadochi and I figured I knew most of the related coinage. This coin surprised me. I'd never heard of Elimiotis or Derdas and was stunned that there were coins from this period, so close to Macedonia, about which I hadn't a clue. It was a great wake up call to never stop searching. Of course, I bought this the instant I found it, but I also then expanded my search and removed some of the assumptions I made. This resulted in several new coins added to the list, some of which I've procured. The lesson that this coin told me is, just when you think you know things, there's always something to shake that up.


Derdas II, Dynasts of Elimiotis
circa 380 BCE
AE 5.0g 16mm
Ox: Laureate head of young Apollo right
Rx: Rider on horse prancing right wearing petasos and chlamys; DERDA below
Ex BCD collection
Ex Bargain Bin Ancients

#6 Marcus Aurelius

Yes. I've had size envy. I've always been jealous of those huge sestertii and finally became determined to acquire one myself. But which one? There were so many options. I didn't want a typical obverse and I wanted something that made it special. Since I didn't have any coins from Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous emperors, I quickly zero'd in on him. This one's obverse got me - commemorating a victory over Germania.

I immediately wondered whether this could have been related to some operation around Luxembourg, but no such luck. Were this a modern coin, it would read 'Victory over Slovakia' (yeah, not as sexy). Still, it marked an important victory for the Romans and I'm very happy with my choice for my only sestertius.


Marcus Aurelius AE Sestertius / Victory over Germany
172 CE
31.20mm 27.18g
Obverse: M ANTININVS AVG TR P XXVI, laureate head right
Reverse: IMP VI COS III, Victory standing right hanging shield inscribed VIC/GER on palm tree; S-C across fields
RIC III 1029 Rome
Ex CNG 2013
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

#7 Pelinna

I picked this up as a symbol for the Thessalian cavalry in Alexander's army. The obverse makes me believe I'm there watching them race across the battlefield. However, the beauty of this coin made me change my tactics significantly. Before then, I was extremely targeted about which cities' coins I would acquire. Either Alexander or Philip had to have entered or specifically dealt with the city.

After this coin, I reasoned that the changes brought by Philip, Alexander, and the Diadochi were so great, that any city in the geographic area they controlled was affected in one way or another. Therefore, to tell the full story of that area during this time, I needed to collect every city that minted coinage from 350-250 BCE. This change has kept me very busy and is the primary reason I've procured so many bronzes this year.


Thessaly, Pelinna
Æ Dichalkon (20mm, 7.49g, 12h)
late 4th to early 3rd centuries BCE
Head of Mantho veiled r. R/ Helmeted Thessalian rider wearing chlamys and short tunic, charging r. with couched lance on prancing horse.
BCD Thessaly 534.1; Rogers 432; HGC 4, 275
Ex London Ancient Coins

#8 Eleusis

This coin had been on my list for some time. Eleusis coins are relatively common, but it's a challenge obtaining one in decent condition. I've always found the coinage fascinating, and modern numismatists have really no idea what the usage was. Were these coins part of the ceremony itself? Were they used for the festival (similar to most Elis coinage)? We don't really know, other than pretty much every coin shows signs of significant usage.

I had a tough debate on this one, since I really wanted something that showed the snakes well, but it seemed that every coin with snakes sacrificed something else. In the end, I chose this one with a well-defined pig, mostly visible inscription, and very well preserved Triptolemos with muscles.

Due to its unknown history, this may be my most mysterious coin.


Attica, Eleusinian festival
350-300 BCE
15.97mm 3.37g
Obverse: Triptolemos in winged car drawn by serpents left
Reverse: Eleusi, pig standing right on mystic staff, bucranium below
SNG Copenhagen 315
Ex Glenn Woods
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

#9 Tisna

I must admit I didn't think a lot of this coin when I bought it. Tisna was a city on the list and this looked like a decent example. I liked it a lot more on receiving it. The horns on the river god just really get me. I've read about collections of river gods (I understand there are ~150 out there) and perhaps someday I'll start my own collection, or perhaps not.

Right now, the coin is just a really nice part of my cities collection, but perhaps someday it will be the start of something new.


Aeolis, Tisna
4th century BCE
Æ 17mm, 4.13g, 6h
Head of river god Tisnaios l. R/ One-handled cup.
SNG Copenhagen 283; SNG München 641
Ex London Ancient Coins

#10 Astyapalaia

As I mentioned above, I picked my Prusias II up as a souvenir. For this coin, I'm going the opposite direction. I zero'd in on this coin due to its rarity and presence on my cities list. Of course, I love looking up where the coins are from, and I absolutely fell in love with the photos of Astyaplaia. As a photographer, it just looks like a place where I can go nuts. It's as stunning as Santorini, but without the crowds.

Upon showing her the photos, my wife agreed, and we're now planning to visit it next year. I'm literally just waiting for Sky Express to release their flight schedule so I can plan the trip. My hope is before the end of the year it will be booked. This will be the first time that a coin decided a vacation destination.


Caria. Dodekanese Islands. Astypalaia
13.22mm, 2.05g 4th Century BCE
Obverse: Head of Helios facing three-quarter right
Reverse: [ΑΣ]ΤΥ, Amphora, oinochoe to right
Ex Marc Breitsprecher

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Nice purchases!

I really like your Marcus Aurelius sestertius.  Nice centering and very nice patina!

This is probably the nicest bronze for 2022.  There were not too many bronze purchases this year, with most being Byzantine folles.

Trajan Decius, sestertius, Rome, 249-251 AD.

RIC IV 117a

20.01 grams  

Type: Bust of Trajan Decius, laureate, cuirassed, right

Type: Genius, wearing polos on head, nude except for short cloak on shoulders, standing left, holding patera in right hand and cornucopia in left hand; to right, standard


Edited by robinjojo
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Nice bronze additions, @kirispupis. I like your #2 coin with Pergamon trophy, #6 Marcus Aurelius AE Sestertius, and your #8 Attica bronze. My favorite would be your #8. I am putting this coin type in my watchlist. 🙂

I picked up a number of bronzes this year, but nearly all of them are on Roman empresses. Here is one of them:

Domitia (Augusta, 82-96). Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum.
Æ 20mm, 4.89g, 6h. 
Obv: Draped bust r. 
Rev: Tetrastyle temple.
RPC II 1290; SNG von Aulock 3846; BMC 188.
London Coins, January 2022. 


Edited by happy_collector
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Cool coins. #4 & 8 stand out IMO


On 12/8/2022 at 9:03 PM, kirispupis said:

Feel free to post your own coins that 'just got you'!

The bronze that got me in 2022 is this one.


Gordien III (29/07/238-25/02/244) - Bronze (22mm) - Seleucia ad Calycadnus, ca 238-244
ΑΝΤΩΝΙΟϹ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒΑϹ   Buste radié, drapé et cuirassé à droite, vu par l'avant. Une contremarque sur le cou.
ϹƐΛƐΥΚƐΩΝ ΤΩ ΠΡΟϹ ΤΩ ΠΡΟ, Europe assise en amazone sur un taureau bondissant à droite, tenant un voile au dessus de sa tête. Entre les pattes du taureau, un dauphin allant a droite

22 mm - 5,51 gr, 
Ref : RPC vol VII.2 # 2930, SNG France -, SNG von Aulock # 5843
Provenance : Naville auction # 74/202 "From the collection of a Mentor".


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