Jump to content

Pertinax' top coins of the last two years

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone, Happy new year 😁

Since I am incredibly bad at writing introductions, let's get straight to the point. Seeing all of your top 10s was great, you all got some incredible coins this year! I've written a couple sentences for some of my coins which I've already shared on discord, so why not share here too 😅

2022 might not have been the most successful year for me, but I was still able to add a couple coins that I am very satisfied with. To fill it up a bit, I'll fill the list up with some of last year's acquisitions, let's get started!


1. Septimius Severus (193-211) Denarius - Rome, 202 AD


Obverse: laureate head of Septimius facing right

Reverse: Tropaeum, mourning Parthian captives below

The reverse is particularly nice on this piece. Septimius wasn't the first one to use this design - it dates back as far as Julius Caesars Gallic campaign. Septimius celebrates a victory far, far away from Gaul, one that Caesar could only have dreamed of (though he did plan a campaign near the end of his life). We are talking about his victory over the Parthians. The Parthian campaign started in 195 and proved to be of some success at least, Septimius was able to capture Seleucia and Babylon. For this, the senate awarded him the title Parthicus Maximus.


2. Severus Alexander (222-235) Denarius - Rome, late 228 AD



Obverse: laureate head of Severus Alexander facing right

Reverse: Mars in full armour standing to right, holding spear and shield

Alexanders reign was a turbulent one to say the least and, according to our ancient sources, the young emperor was heavily influenced in his decisions by his mother and grandmother. During his reign, he was at war with Parthia and Germania, but all that happened after this coin was minted. He took the throne at only 18 years old, but surprisingly, he had managed to last a good 13 years on the throne until he was overthrown by Maximinus Thrax. He is said to have been a very cultured young man, but during this time just before the crisis of the 3rd century, the Romans needed a general, not a man of culture. The portrait on this piece is in quite high relief and captured his looks quite well when compared to contemporary busts.


3. Julia Domna (193-217) Denarius - Rome, 196-202 AD


Obverse: draped bust of Julia Domna

Reverse: Isis holding baby Horus, foot on ship prow, rudder leaning on altar to left

What most people seem to notice first about this coin is the great centering on the reverse. And, unsuprisingly, this it is indeed my favourite side of the coin - though, for different reasons. It is pretty well known that the Romans adopted just about every god they came across into their religious world view. One of the more important cults practiced in ancient Rome was the cult of Isis. It has its origins in Egypt and was brought to Rome by merchants. You can think of Isis and Horus as an early version of the Mary and Jesus, early Christian sculptors definately took inspiration from this scene. It was quite a controversial cult, being banned by emperors like Augustus and some of his predecessors with moderate success. The lower class loved it because it promised salvation and an afterlife (you can clearly see the line to Christianity there). By the time of the Severans, even the emperors participated in the annual festival of Isis and Caracalla even went as far as to build a temple for her on the Forum Romanum - bigger than that of Jupiter himself!


4. Probus (276-282) Tetradrachm - Alexandria, 280-281 AD

Obverse: laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Probus right

Reverse: Eagle left, head turned to right, wreath in Schnabel 

Lets move right on to Aurelians successor, Probus! This coin is interesting to me for one particular reason: It was struck just years before Diocletian unified the empires coinage, practically ending Provincial coinage and making this one of the last Tetradrachms to be produced. It is quite pathetic compared to the Tets of 5th century Greece, but one of the cheapest you can have. They also have the huge convenience of being dated to the exact year of the reigning emperors rule. In this case it is year 6 of Probus, enabling us to date this piece to exactly 280-281 AD.


5. Xerxes I - Darius II (486-404 BC) Siglos - Sardes, ca. 480-420 BC

Obverse: great king wearing kandys, holding spear and bow in kneeling-running stance

Reverse: rectangular incuse

Now we are starting to get into my favourite niche of ancients, Persian Asia Minor in the 5th to 4th century BC. The archer siglos was one of the most minted types of its time, being instituted by Darius I and minted all the way until Alexander defeated the Persians in Asia Minor in 336 BC. It was a direct continuation of the Lydian coinage system, just with a different design. They circulated mainly in the Greek and Phoenician part of the Persian empire, so you can often see test cuts and bankers marks on them. This coin has two of each, the two bankers marks on the obverse and the test cuts on the reverse and on the edge. In some cases, it is even possible to connect the marks to the places the coin traveled to, but I have not been able to do that with my coin.


6. Weimar Republic, 1 Mark, 1921


I think this coin is quite a good representation of my collecting journey in 2022. It set me back an entire 50 Cents, but it is quite cool! In 1921, WW1 had just ended 3 years ago and money wasn't exactly in high supply. Germany was totally lacking metal, so they got creative with their coins. Some are made of fabric, the metal coins that circulated were made of Aluminum and a lot of paper money circulated. This particular piece is made of porcelain from Meissen, which was - and still is - one of the most popular porcelain manufacturers in the western world. It was a difficult time to be around, but the people managed it - sometimes better, sometimes worse.


7. Trajan Decius (149-151) Antoninianus - Rome, late 149 - early 150 CE


Obverse: draped bust of Decius wearing radiate crown right

Reverse: emperor on horseback advancing right

The most notable part about this one is also the portrait. It is not one of the usual generic busts, but a very detailed piece - the engraver probably either saw the emperor himself or had a good model of him. It celebrates the arrival of Decius at Rome with the legend ADVENTVS AVG. Decius was a well known face in the Roman upper class, having been a highly respected senator under Phillip the Arab. After a victory at Moesia, he was proclaimed emperor by his troops and defeated Phillip at Verona.


8. Hadrian (117-138) Denarius - Rome, 126/7 CE



Obverse: laureate head of Hadrian facing right

Reverse: Pudicitia seated to the left, holding hook

What is perhaps most notable about this coin is the wonderful engraving work on the obverse, the engraver really outdid himself there! 

There are of course many opinions about under which roman emperor the Roman mint reached its artistic height, but for me it just has to be Hadrian. In his 21 years of rule, he had three portrait types struck for himself, all of which were produced with an incredible consistency on an extremely high artistic level. The first type shows the emperors head quite small, but with very realistic features and was used from roughly 117-122. The second shows a way bigger head, the face of the emperor is more idealised. It was used around 125-128 and transforms into a fully idealised portrait, which you can see on my example. The third type is generally the most desirable and since Hadrians coins can get quite pricey, i was very happy to find this piece in a shop for a price I am very happy with.

The reverse, while not as amazing, is also very beautiful. It features Pudicitia, the personification of modesty and loyalty. In her hand, she is holding a "hook"... I dare to challenge this attribution though, since you can clearly see she is raising her hat at whoever I fortunate enough to come across her 😁


10. Tissaphernes (411-407 and 401-395) Chalkos - Astyra, 400-395 BC


Obverse: head of Tissaphernes facing right, legend below

Reverse: cult statue of Artemis Astyrene facing, wearing kalathos, club to right

The highlight of 2022! I just won this piece at Leu 24, but I've been after the type for a good half year. As some of you may know, Xenophons March of the 10.000 is my favourite book. In 401 BC, the persian prince Cyrus the Younger secretly assembled an army, including 10.000 greeks, and marched on his brother. The two sides met, and while the greeks were hugely successful, Cyrus - after successfully defeating the "immortals" protecting the king, was killed by a young nobleman. Tissaphernes was the satrap who warned the king of Cyrus' plans and led the kings left flank at the battle of Cunaxa. The greeks did not even realise the battle was lost until the next day, and soon after Tissaphernes tried to get them to lay down arms. The greeks, led by Cherisophus, refused his offer. They went on their way back home through Persian territory, being constantly chased by Tissaphernes except in the areas of the Persian empire even the Persian army didnt dare to cross through. After the defeat of Cyrus, Tissaphernes was at the height of his power and was awarded the title of karanos (supreme commander) of Asia Minor. During this time, he became the first human to put his face onto coins after Cyrus, whos image barely shows any facial features. 

I hope to add more coins of the Persian satraps to my collection soon, though I'll have to stick with bronze for the moment.


So that's it, my top coins of the last two years of collecting. I hope you enjoyed these little writeups, in case you read them through, I cant blame anyone for skipping this wall of text 😅 I'll end this post with a little group picture of the core part of my collection (hopefully Tissaphernes arrives soon to be added):


A great 2023 to everyone, may this year bring you lots of exciting new coins 🥳j

Edited by Helvius Pertinax
video corrected
  • Like 22
  • Heart Eyes 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome acquisitions Pertinax, I’ve really enjoyed reading through your list.

I particularly love your Tissaphernes Chalkos for its historical significance, and the idea that it features the first ‘true’ human portrait on a coin - what a lovely portrait too! 

I hope that you continue to acquire such wonderful pieces in 2023, and I really look forward to seeing what you get 😄

  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent acquisitions! And i must admit that you have great taste in coins 🙂

Perhaps my favorite is the tissaphernes, Mainly due to the fact that he has the first human portrait on a coin!

The siglos and the julia domna are also stunning, And the blue background adds an excellent touch!

Great writeup and I Iook forward to seeing your next pickups😄


  • Big Smile 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...