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Marketing Ancients: Selling the Story .. even if its a stretch


Constantivs
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Just for fun adding a couple of coins that have rather tenuous claims to historical figures ... we all know that many types are highly valued due to their (perhaps dubious?) ties to historical personages or events. In many cases the supply of these coins is comparatively plentiful - yet the price remains very high due to the sustained demand. The marketing can be so strong that it becomes a kind of truth - while in fact some large leaps of logic have to be made to tie the story together.

I'm looking at you Tribute Penny!!!

Here are a couple of my very cheap examples. The first was under $50 and the second under $15.. but I still purchased them for the story. Eyes wide open to the leaps in logic - but I couldn't help myself!

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Ionia, Smyrna, c. 75-50 BC. Æ (22mm, 6.94g, 12h). Laureate head of Apollo r. R/ Homer seated l., holding scroll; two monograms to l.

 

Is this Homer? Some examples for sale just state "Magistrate"... I know many cities in the ancient world claimed Homer as a native son... Smyrna being one.  But in fact we really don't even know if Homer was a real person... and if he lived he was dead about 800 years before this coin was struck.  I've read some defenses of this identification and they can be compelling.. but....

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This little rough coin is fun (and under $15)... a coin minted in Cyprus - at the time it was ruled by Cleopatra VII... cool!!

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OBV: Laureate head of Zeus. REV: Statue of Zeus Salaminos standing, holding stalks of grain, star above.  Paphos mint c. 35 BC. 3.15g

From Forvm: While not noted in Svoronos, this type is fairly common on Cyprus and many have been found in the excavations at Neopaphos. The lack of a central depression indicates they were struck after 96 B.C. Recent Cypriot numismatic publications date them to the time when Cleopatra VII of Egypt was the ruler of the island

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So struck after 96BC .... yet we can shoe-horn it into the rule of Cleopatra VII. Well I will spend $15 on that logic!! Would be worth $15K if someone can "prove" that's Cleopatra herself posing on the reverse!!

I'm just having a bit of fun of course - I love both coins.

 

Please share your ancient coin marketing marvels .....

 

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A very good idea.

I am aware about the Smyrna coins and the controversy- is it Homer or not. Because I wanted a type of these, I hunted one for a few months.

Ended up with this (not same variety as yours) for 14 EUR and one cannot say it's not a deal

image.png.3d6cbfd2aa21758234f1c320c15c8a45.png

 

Ionia. Smyrna. Bronze Æ 21 mm, 6,26 g
75-50 BC. Laureate head of Apollo right; laurel wreath border / ΞMYPNAIΩN, Homer seated left, resting chin on hand and holding transverse sceptre. Milne 359; SNG Copenhagen 1207; BMC 116; Mionnet 921; Weber 6138; SNG Tuebingen 3180. Although uncertainty remains, from textual analysis of both the Iliad and the Odyssey scholars have noted Homer's knowledge of sites in Ionia such as the river Meles, and have thus proposed that it is likely that the poet had roots there. One of many cities claiming to be the birthplace of this most important bard Smyrna, along with cities such as Colophon and Chios, included Homer on the coinage, as can be seen on the present piece.

I don't have a tribute penny. In fact, no Tiberius denarii at all. They are not cheap and the story behind the tribute penny makes them popular. I don't intend to buy one. I studied the Bible long before collecting ancient coins and one of the first things I searched for when starting collecting was if there is a chance to identify the coin Jesus was talking about. I know there is a consensus it was the tribute penny, but is there any clear proof?

Same for the widow's mite. I would buy one, but not overpay just because it might be the type mentioned in the Bible.

When I buy a coin I have some criteria. To be in my collecting areas, to have an interesting design, to be in my price range. That's about it.

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These are often claimed to be of Heracles (which it is) with the face of Alexander the Great (which seems a bit unlikely). They're also 'lifetime' issues, although even that seems to be debatable. Luckily, they are very plentiful, and so not expensive anyway.

Alexander III the Great Unit, 336-313BC

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Macedon? Bronze, 17.8mm, 6.00g. Head of Heracles right, wearing lion skin. Club above bow inside bowcase; AΛEΞANΔΡOΥ (SNG Copenhagen 1059).

Edited by John Conduitt
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Another controversial coin.  Is that simply Mars on the obverse or Scipio Africanus as Mars. Sellers prefer the last interpretation.

 

normal_Republik_5.jpg.98eac3ca7e54c60f27cfd138801bc8fe.jpg

Cn. Cornelius Blasio
Denar, Rome, 112 BC
Obv.: [CN. BLASIO] CN. F., helmeted head of Mars (Scipio Africanus??) right, star above
Rev.: ROMA, Jupiter, scepter in left, thunderbolt in right, between Juno and Minerva
Ag, 3.82g, 17mm
Ref.: Albert 1084, Sear 173, Crawford 296/1

 

 

Edited by shanxi
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Here's one often attributed to Caesonia, but it is not really her. I bought it decades ago because I had to have an inexpensive Caligula.

[IMG]
Caligula AD 37-41.
Roman provincial Æ 28 mm, 11.17 gm.
Carthago Nova, Spain, AD 37-38.
Obv: C. CAESAR AVG. GERMANIC. IMP. P.M. TR.P. COS., laureate head of Caligula, right.
Rev: CN. ATEL. FLAC. CN. POM. FLAC. II. VIR. Q.V.I.N.C., head of Salus right, SAL AVG across field.
Refs: SGI 419; Heiss 272, 35; Cohen 247, 1; RPC 1, 185; SNG Cop 503.

The coin's reverse depicts Salus and the attribution to Caesonia is fanciful. David Vagi (Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. Vol. 1, Coinworld, 1999, p.148) states:

"The bust of Salus (health) on aes struck at Cathago Nova ... by Caligula is often misattributed as a representation of Caesonia. In fact, it was struck before they were wed, and it more likely is an allusion to Antonia, whose health was failing as she neared the end of her life."

This is a REAL Caesonia, with her name on it and everything, from Wildwinds:

[IMG]
Caesonia, AE18 of Caesaraea Panias, Syria. Dated RY 5 of Agrippa I (AD 40-41). (KAIΣΩNIA ΓYNH ΣEBAΣTOY), Draped bust of Caesonia left, wearing hair in long plait / (ΔΡOYΣIΛΛA ΘYΓATΡI ΣEBAΣTOY), Drusilla standing facing, head right, holding Nike and branch, LE in left field. RPC 4977; Meshorer 117; SNG ANS -.
 
 
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This isn't an offending coin, but anything struck late on by the Iceni gets associated with Boudica. She's easily the most well-known British Celt and even 2000 years later is held up as a feminist icon. She lived (roughly) from AD30 to AD61. So perhaps I can call this a 'Boudica birth coin'. She may have even spent it, right?

But it's very unlikely Boudica struck any coins, and even coins attributed to her husband Prasutagus are now thought not to be his (despite what it says in Spink). By the time she was destroying Colchester and London, the Iceni had likely stopped striking coins altogether.

Antedios ‘D-Bar’ Unit, 10-30image.png.a8ccc8a3e6996eb9c058da8b5c28ed6a.pngIceni tribe. Silver, 13x14mm, 1.01g. Horse right, corn-ear mane, pellet daisy above, pellet under tail, pellet triad and ANTĐ monogram below. Double moon emblem on vertical wreath (ABC 1645). Found in Norfolk.

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Bit of a niche market here, all of Sangam age (300 BC- 300 AD) coins are anonymous, except for a couple of Chera coins with king's names. This particular coin was attributed to Karikala Chola (circa 1st century AD), he was one of the significant kings of early Cholas. Karikala is his title, meaning Kari-charred, kala-leg, due to an accident, he also made expeditions into Northern India, however for the common public he's most notable for building the 'Grand Anicut' aka Kallanai dam across the river Cauvery that still stands today. Perhaps that's why any early Chola coinage have been attributed to him for better premiums. 

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It shows a standing tiger with raised tail, their official emblem on the obverse, and a war elephant and religious symbols above on the reverse if you look closely. 

A better example,

cho.jpg.4ac6a352d920825302c8f5f038b82a3a.jpg

Edited by JayAg47
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Don't forget that Azes is supposedly one of the Biblical Magi, even though their names were Gaspar, Melichor, and Balthazar

818483003_AzesARdrachm.jpg.84cc6854ac9393d8f17e8ba2ff724b0b.jpg

I've also heard claims that Gondophares was Gaspar - he was less ambiguously named in the apocryphal (i.e. probably fabricated) Acts of Thomas, which claims he was one of the earliest Christian monarchs after converting

61221870_Gondopharesdrachm.jpg.5cc03a0f5b6a979147472aa25838e7fd.jpg

And whenever a weird provincial shows up, it usually gets assigned to a famous Imperatorial-era Roman, like Gaius Sosius

1850589799_RomanGaiusSosiusAEasiaminor.jpg.7ace99163b75992ae0fca0bbf7482a25.jpg

 

And this one sadly was a convincing story, since it clearly says Tiberius but shows a very youthful bust, leading many to claim that it is none other than Tiberius Gemellus

... Sadly, a new coin was found a year or two ago without the damage to the legend before the portrait - which reads CEBACTOY, meaning it cannot be Gemellus, who was never emperor.

1896254624_TiberiusgemellusAEphiladelphialydia.jpg.bce110f20c6118a21a81a5fbafd58c25.jpg

 

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This coin for some time was marketed as depicting Ariston, who rode with Alexander and is renowned for offering him the head of a Persian satrap and then asking for a golden cup. It's been since conclusively argued that this is not Ariston, as no Greek king would have placed his brother (and second claimant to the throne) on a coin, and on some copies the shield of the fallen soldier is Macedonian.

331A1887-Edit.jpg.1d8495d7ebe1f9bc0502af7040f570eb.jpg

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I find the doubt surrounding the Smyrna coins showing Homer to be baffling. With a direct mention by Strabo that the bronze coins of Smyrna show Homer I think we can be more sure on these coins than 90% of the attributions that go by unquestioned. Skepticism is healthy sometimes but if we throw out this attribution for not having enough evidence then we should do the same for a bunch of other coin types that skate under the radar with less famous subjects.

“There is also a library; and the Homereium, a quadrangular portico containing a shrine and wooden statue of Homer; for the Smyrnaeans also lay especial claim to the poet; and indeed a bronze coin of theirs is called Homereium.” – Strabo -

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Ionia, Smyrna
Menophilos Krabaus, magistrate.
Ae Homereium, struck ca. 105-95 BC
Dia.: 21 mm
Wt.: 7.05 g
Obv.: Laureate head of Apollo right
Rev.: ΣΜΥΡΝΑΙΩΝ MHNOΦIΛOΣ KPABAYΣ. 
Homer, holding scroll and resting chin upon hand, seated left on plinth; sceptre behind
Ref.: Milne 1927, 294
Ex Plankenhorn Collection of Ionian Coins

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6 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

I don't have a tribute penny. In fact, no Tiberius denarii at all. They are not cheap and the story behind the tribute penny makes them popular. I don't intend to buy one. I studied the Bible long before collecting ancient coins and one of the first things I searched for when starting collecting was if there is a chance to identify the coin Jesus was talking about. I know there is a consensus it was the tribute penny, but is there any clear proof?

Same for the widow's mite. I would buy one, but not overpay just because it might be the type mentioned in the Bible.

Regarding the 'tribute penny', although the evangelist is writing in Greek, Jesus explicitly asks the crowd for a "denarius" (δηναριον). Jesus then points out that the denarius bears the portrait and inscription of "Caesar". Tiberius was the reigning caesar throughout Jesus' historical ministry and the 'Livia seated' type is far and away the most common of Tiberius' denarii.

The 'widow's mite' is more ambiguous. 'Mite' is an early 17th century translation of the Greek word lepton, meaning "small (thing)". The original Greek text states that the widow gave "two lepta, which make a quadrans". Any of the small Judaean coppers of the period could qualify, I think.

Edited by DLTcoins
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3 minutes ago, DLTcoins said:

'Livia seated' type is far and away the most common of Tiberius' denarii.

Yes this is indeed why I have one.

Tiberius Denarius, 14-37image.png.0aa2e4b952d3d179f238c070d769d09c.pngLugdunum. Silver, 19x18mm, 3.64g. Head of Tiberius, laureate, right; TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS. Female figure (Livia as Pax), draped, right, seated, right on chair with plain legs, holding branch and long sceptre; below chair, a double line; PONTIF MAXIM (RIC I.2, 26). From the South Norfolk Hoard 2014.

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Posted · Supporter
31 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

Yes this is indeed why I have one.

Tiberius Denarius, 14-37image.png.0aa2e4b952d3d179f238c070d769d09c.pngLugdunum. Silver, 19x18mm, 3.64g. Head of Tiberius, laureate, right; TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS. Female figure (Livia as Pax), draped, right, seated, right on chair with plain legs, holding branch and long sceptre; below chair, a double line; PONTIF MAXIM (RIC I.2, 26). From the South Norfolk Hoard 2014.

 

 

That is a particularly fine portrait style! I like it!

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25 minutes ago, DLTcoins said:

Regarding the 'tribute penny', although the evangelist is writing in Greek, Jesus explicitly asks the crowd for a "denarius" (δηναριον). Jesus then points out that the denarius bears the portrait and inscription of "Caesar". Tiberius was the reigning caesar throughout Jesus' historical ministry and the 'Livia seated' type is far and away the most common of Tiberius' denarii.

The 'widow's mite' is more ambiguous. 'Mite' is an early 17th century translation of the Greek word lepton, meaning "small (thing)". The original Greek text states that the widow gave "two lepta, which make a quadrans". Any of the small Judaean coppers of the period could qualify, I think.

That is absolutely correct (on both) but still there is no clear evidence Jesus was really mentioning a Tiberius denarius with Livia seated. A big chance, yes. But not enough ( for me at least). If I ever get a Tiberius denarius, most likely it would be this type, but only because it's, as you say, the most common.

And another type I just remembered - the shekel of Tyre. Also by tradition, it's said the payment of Judas was 30 shekels of Tyre.

I did not read the Bible in any other language except my native one, but the translations I read simply stated "30 silver coins". It might be 30 shekels. But still very coincidental evidence to make me overpay on a coin like that. Some dealers and houses mention "The type of the “Thirty Pieces of Silver” paid to Judas for the betrayal of Christ". Some don't.

I was very happy when I got some coins from the time ~5 BC - ~35 AD and I consider them coins contemporary to Jesus. But my opinion, and I highlight that anybody can approve it or not, is that these types of coins are possible candidates for the events mentioned in the Bible. Nothing more.

 

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@Curtisimo- thank you for the detailed explanation about the homereium. I wasn't sure if I read about that denomination in the past but now I remembered.

I am still curious if my coin also displays Homer (yours and the OP coin show the reverse character holding a scroll - on mine, he only has a transverse sceptre).

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@ambr0zie, I think your coin shows as well with staff and scroll  - a couple of coins with same magistrate in ACSearch.

image.png.615c00d0bc57335082aee6e532b5b65d.png

Here's my Homer - with some notes and references on the association between Smyrna and Homer in "Home to Homer". 

image.png.ead440bf1f3a77b2569573525808e662.png

Ionia, Smyrna, AE 22mm, circa 125-115 BC, Apollodoros, magistrate

Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right

Rev: ΣΜΥΡΝΑΙΩΝ / ΑΠΟΛΛΟΔΩΡΟΣ, Homer, left hand lying on knees holding a closed scroll, a staff or scepter at his side. right hand supporting chin, seated left on plinth, left foot forward, right drawn back, himation (a Greek cloak or shawl) passing under right and over left shoulder.

Size: 21mm, 9.1g

Ref: SNG Copenhagen 1147

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I have yet to purchase a tribute penny for some of the same reasons enumerated above. Who's to say that the denarius in question was not Augustus, since obviously his coins would still be circulating in the Near East? I find the case for the widow's mite being a prutah or lepton more convincing, yet these coins are very common even if they command decent prices from novices in the field. 

We do know that the shekel of Tyre was used in the temple as a standard of exchange and accepted by the priestly class that did the work of money changing, thus the chance that Judas Iscariot's payment was in Tyrian coins seems somewhat likely rather than denarii.

 

From my collection I'll share this coin, which also has some unique historical value:elag3.jpg.c7539e3db15140727a7efc24ede94d65.jpg

 

The depiction of the baetyl is somewhat unique from a religious perspective (no other emperors were associated with the worship of Elagabal) and therefore also historically interesting. The only high ranking official attached to Emesa who also became a candidate for the Imperium was the pretender Uranius Antoninus. I suppose if a movie was made about Elagabalus he might become as well-known as Caligula or Nero and his coins, which are plentiful with the exception of certain sought after types, would see some increase in prices.

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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4 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

I am still curious if my coin also displays Homer

3 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

I think your coin shows as well with staff and scroll 

I agree. I think yours is Homer as well @ambr0zie. Nice coin. 
 

Also, nice webpage @Sulla80!

Edited by Curtisimo
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4 hours ago, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

I have yet to purchase a tribute penny for some of the same reasons enumerated above. Who's to say that the denarius in question was not Augustus, since obviously his coins would still be circulating in the Near East? I find the case for the widow's mite being a prutah or lepton more convincing, yet these coins are very common even if they command decent prices from novices in the field.

I will add to my previous comments that the whole point of the 'tribute penny' pericope is whether or not taxes should be paid to Caesar. The only Caesar collecting taxes during Jesus' adult life was Tiberius. That said, I suspect the evangelist was intentionally vague, giving his audience the opportunity to visualize the Caesar of their own day, perhaps Nero. 

Because of their purity, Tyrian shekels and halves were the only silver coins acceptable as payment of the temple tax and therefore, the primary coins in the priestly coffers - assuming those coffers to have been the source of the payment to Judas. As already noted, the Greek text simply states "thirty silvers".

Edited by DLTcoins
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Not to mention the so-called coins of Pontius Pilate. If the coin had the image or the name of Pilate, I would want one. No such coins exist. They are all in the name of Tiberius albeit minted when Pilate was governor of Judea. These crude coins don’t interest me.

You might as well market a 2004 San Francisco Mint dime as a “Schwarzenegger dime”.

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15 hours ago, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

I have yet to purchase a tribute penny for some of the same reasons enumerated above. Who's to say that the denarius in question was not Augustus, since obviously his coins would still be circulating in the Near East? I find the case for the widow's mite being a prutah or lepton more convincing, yet these coins are very common even if they command decent prices from novices in the field. 

We do know that the shekel of Tyre was used in the temple as a standard of exchange and accepted by the priestly class that did the work of money changing, thus the chance that Judas Iscariot's payment was in Tyrian coins seems somewhat likely rather than denarii.

 

From my collection I'll share this coin, which also has some unique historical value:elag3.jpg.c7539e3db15140727a7efc24ede94d65.jpg

 

The depiction of the baetyl is somewhat unique from a religious perspective (no other emperors were associated with the worship of Elagabal) and therefore also historically interesting. The only high ranking official attached to Emesa who also became a candidate for the Imperium was the pretender Uranius Antoninus. I suppose if a movie was made about Elagabalus he might become as well-known as Caligula or Nero and his coins, which are plentiful with the exception of certain sought after types, would see some increase in prices.

Here’s the baetyl again on my coin of the enigmatic Uranius, housed in the temple in Emesa (Homs, Syria).

i would love to own an Elagabalus coin depicting the chariot ride of the baetyl to Rome. 

12E10F6B-A877-49AC-ACC4-E62E49544FC0.jpeg

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On 6/30/2022 at 12:07 AM, Constantivs said:

Please share your ancient coin marketing marvels .....

Those who regularly hunt for coins of Elymais have likely encountered this laughable marketing ploy consisting of silly packaging for second century AD Elymaean drachms. The selling point is that the coin is somehow connected to the location of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 

Never mind that there is, I believe, no definitive archaeological evidence for the actual existence of the Hanging Gardens. Never mind that Elymais was hundreds of miles east of Babylon. Never mind that the supposed “numismatists (who) now believe” that the Hanging Gardens were in Elam are unnamed. Never mind that, among the theories shared by Elymaean specialists regarding the dashes of the reverses of these types of coins, there in no mention (that I know of) about a connection to the Hanging Gardens.

 

I forgive them all of that. However, sadly, I have to interject a dose of reality: Elam (which is where the sellers say the Hanging Gardens actually existed) came to an end with the rise of the Achaemenids almost four centuries before the kingdom of Elymais was even established – and almost seven centuries before the minting of this particular coin! Furthermore, the author of this silliness seems to think (or wants the reader to think) that the Elymaean and Elamite kingdoms were one and the same. The text inside the box includes a number of passages about ancient Elam despite the fact that the coin is from Elymais.

 

Although the Elymaeans were likely descended from the earlier Elamites, we’re dealing with two different kingdoms and two different time periods. Thus, the coin has – at best – a very tenuous connection to Elam which, in turn, has a tenuous (or perhaps no) connection to the 6th century BC Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Which may not have existed at all.

 

But, hey, the “riddle” ploy, with its shades of Indiana Jones solving an ancient mystery, is (I guess?) clever…

873022141_Elammarketing.jpg.a847629d7db2937ff275c0976d79bcc2.jpg

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