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Xeno's Top 10 Coins of the Year


Xeno's Top 10 Coins of the Year  

25 members have voted

  1. 1. Vote for your favorites!

    • Diva Faustina Sestertius
    • Philip I Philadelphos AR Tetradrachm
    • Cilician Armenia, AR Tram
    • Moesia, Istros, AR Drachm
    • Amisos, Pontos, Mithradates VI as Dionysos AE
    • Phrygia, Hierapolis. Augustus/Apollo playing lyre
    • Mysia, Adramyteum. Marcus Aurelius/Telesphorus
    • Lucania, Poseidonia, AR Stater
    • Thrace, Ainos. Hermes/Caduces
    • Campania, Neapolis, AR Didrachm

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Hello everyone, I’m pretty new here but love what you guys do on this forum. I am extremely impressed with people’s knowledge and research abilities as well as their passion for the subject.. Thus you have inspired me to make my own Top 10 Coins of the Year post. I have recently gotten back into ancient coins after a several year hiatus from coin collecting. Earlier this year I was filling gaps in my U.S. collection but in the second half of the year I recovered my sanity and came back to ancient coin collecting where I belong. Funnily enough this year I really went for quantity, whereas when I was actively buying ancient coins around 5-8 years ago I had much more expensive tastes and mostly wanted silver. Now I want as much cheap bronze as I can get my hands on! That being said here are what I consider the highest quality, most interesting, and most beautiful coins I bought this year.


10. DIVA FAUSTINA SENIOR AE sestertius. DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right. Reverse - AETERNITAS S-C, Aeternitas standing left holding phoenix on globe and holding up skirt. Cohen 12, RCV 4607. 33mm, 24.4g.  Purchased from Incitatus Coins.7o1crFXUevnYGEQzDgfyeUgH547rnkXycwXSVfdB4wPHAClC65TQ-B4D82APo3T-c_mvL2vwybb7hZ_0d-mnD5JdPTpWHboQzwT83PSkgahQmZTdyY6h5YpUNx2yq6MwjOCbBgbTvrRZ8ZWTPa0X5cU


I am a big fan of women on coins and always snag them if the price is low. This one is a real chunker and it is so nice to feel that weight in the hand. I love the sestertii so much I wish I could afford the nicer versions so I content myself with the cheap ones of which I have many. This is my favorite of the year, with a nice big Gordian III sestertius with a mars reverse being the runner up. 


9. Philip I Philadelphos, Seleukid Kingdom. AR tetradrachm, 95-75 BC. Antioch ad Orontem. Diademed head of King right. / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΦIΛIΠΠOY EΠIΦANOYΣ ΦIΛAΔEΛΦOY, Zeus seated left, holding Nike and sceptre. ΔI monogram beneath throne. A in lower left field, H in exergue, all within wreath. Newell 451 (ANS AJN vol. 51); BMC 12; Babelon 1560; Hunter 12; SNG Spaer 2816. 26mm, 13.66g

Savoca Blue 183, Lot 234




This one deserves mention as my first non-fourree greek tetradrachm. It’s seen better days before but nice to finally own a big chunky silver coin. Even when they’re this worn a lot of detail can still be made out, quite an attractive coin in hand and happy to finally have one of these in my collection. 


8.Cilician Armenia. Sis. Levon I AD 1198-1219.  Tram AR 22 mm, 2.91 g Savoca Blue 183, Lot 708



This one is neat in that it is not actually mine it is my mother’s but I keep it safe in my collection for her. Recently after hearing me babble on about coins endlessly she has taken an interest in medieval coinage especially that relating to the crusades. While this one does not directly relate to the crusades as I understand (let me know if I’m wrong!) it was one of the nicest medieval coins in one of the recent Savoca auctions I was participating in and we won it! It is a gorgeous coin and will always have sentimental value to me, my mother’s first coin! 



7. ISTROS, Moesia AR silver drachm. 4th-3rd century BC. Two male heads (twin Apollo) facing, one inverted. Reverse - IΣTPIH legend above sea-eagle standing left on dolphin, no letter beneath the dolphin. AMNG 416; BMC 2. 17mm, 5.3g. Possibly showing the oldest recorded astronomical event on a coin.




I recently purchased this Moesia, Istros Drachm from Incitatus Coins. I’ve long been aware of this coin type and have a hemidrachm with very nice detail and toning on it, but was happy to acquire one of the bigger types even if it is a bit worn. I noticed he has listed a lot of this type recently and I felt I got one of the ones with better detail. I love how it looks like he’s sticking his tongue out. Here is an explication of the astronomical event theory from the listing. I was not familiar with this theory before and find it very interesting.


From Incitatus Coins: 


Astronomers Saslaw & Murdin, Cambridge Institute of Astronomy, propose that this interesting type references a total eclipse of the sun that took place in 434 BC. "The numismatic representations of Apollo, the uniqueness of the Istros image and the inversion of the heads suggested to the author that they represented a solar eclipse. Solar eclipses are rare in both time and space, being visible only from a restricted region of the earth's surface. The ingress and egress of the moon moving across the sun can produce approximately inverted images. If this eclipse was especially prominent around Istros, this city might identify with the phenomenon and this could become symbolized on a coin: a numismatic record. The eclipse of October 4, 434 BC, occurred around 6:30 in the morning local time, when the sun was just a few degrees above the horizon. Sailors and early risers would have seen an extraordinary sunrise above the Black Sea, possibly through the morning mist, in which the sun was not its usual disc but a crescent wiht its horns pointing upwards. Ten minutes later, as the sun gained altitude, the crescent would have thinned and swung to point to the left as the light of the rising sun dimmed. In a further ten minutes, the sun was noticeably brighter, but now its horns would be pointing downwards. Clearly, the sun-god was up to something astonishing. As the sun rose further, it retained its usual shape. Apollo's message might be regarded as an auspicious omen especially favourable to Istros, memorable and worth recording."



Further reading: 2005JHA....36...21S Page 21 (harvard.edu) 


6. Amisos, Pontos. 85-65 B.C. AE 25mm, 8.47g  Obverse: Head Mithradates VI as Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy.  Reverse: AMIΣOY, Cista mystica with panther skin, diadem and thyrsos. Monogram to left. SNG BMC 1205; Sear Greek 3640; BMC 53; McClean 7368; AMNG 24. Exceptional strike and detail. Savoca Blue 185, Lot 70,


This is a coin I got at the most recent Savoca auction along with 20 other coins. I was going for quantity over quality on that one, except for this coin which I was enchanted by. I just love the style and look of the portrait and was immediately enchanted and was happy to secure it for what was to me a reasonable price. I am just glad the corrosion left most of the portrait untouched except for the neck, to me one of the most beautiful coins I have seen in a long time. 


5. PHRYGIA, Hierapolis. Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. Æ (18mm, 5.35g). Dorykanos, son of Dioskourides. Bare head right / Apollo standing right, playing lyre. RPC I 2935 (5 specimens). Rare, Fine.




This was part of a large purchase I made from the Savoca retail shop on VCoins, the abundance of rare coins for good prices got me interested in their auctions which is where I have been making my purchases recently. I love this design especially, the Augustus portrait is beautiful and I love the reverse with Apollo playing the lyre. With the rarity on top of it it was a no brainer. 


4. MYSIA. Adramyteum. Marcus Aurelius. As Caesar, AD 139-161. Æ (14mm, 2.78g). Bare head right / Telesphorus standing facing. RPC IV.2 online 410 (temporary; 2 specimens). Very Rare, Good Fine





This one I just adore, not only because I was able to get a very rare coin relatively cheap but I just love the little Telesphorus design and I love that I learned something new because of this coin! Telesphorus probably originated as a Celtic deity, taken to Anatolia by the Galatians, then becoming associated with Asclepius. Telesphorus was a child-god of healing always depicted wearing a hood or cap. I just love when a coin teaches me something about history I was completely ignorant of and this little beauty does a great job of that. 


3.. LUCANIA. Poseidonia NGC Ch VF 5/5 - 3/5 470-420 BC. AR Stater 19mm 7.81g ΠΟΣEI, Poseidon striding right, nude but for chlamys spread across shoulders, brandishing trident in right hand / ΠΟΣEI, bull standing left on ground line. HN Italy 1114.




The most expensive purchase of 2023. I snagged this very quickly after I saw it come up retail for $325 (and tied for most expensive coin purchase of mine ever with a Pamphylia, Aspendos stater I bought about 10 years ago) from Greco-Roman on VCoins. This was the first of these I saw but since thenI have been paying attention to auctions and am seeing this type come up consistently in Heritage Auctions with almost sequential serial numbers. Clearly a large batch of these was recently sent to NGC for grading and is entering the market. The fact that the bull’s head is largely destroyed contributed to the lowered price. I have seen 2 come up in recent Heritage Auctions, a very nice one for $950 hammer and a lesser version for $260 hammer the week after. Perhaps I should have had more patience and waited for more of these to enter the market but I saw a chance to get a coin I would normally think out of my budget and snapped it up. It is a lovely type that I’m happy to have in my collection.



2. THRACE. Ainos. Bronze ( 20 mm. 6,90 g.) circa 4th-3rd century BC. Obv: Head of Hermes left, wearing petasos. Rev: A–I–N–I–O–N. Caduces, bunch of grapes in right field. AMNG 381; SNG Copenhagen –. Very rare. very fine.


This was again from the same Savoca retail lot as #4 and #5. I was enchanted by the design of Hermes on the obverse and the Caduces on the reverse. I’m also quite fond of the bluish tone the coin has acquired. It is also big enough and has enough detail to really examine closely. Some of the most amazing bronzes are so small it can be hard to get a good feel for them. These coins are such an incredible link to our past and the mythological elements only enhance that.


1.Campania, Neapolis AR Didrachm Arte(mios) as Magistrate ca. 300-275 B.C. 7.40g. 20mm.

Diademed head of Nymph r., Thessalian helmet behind, ARTE below; beaded border around.

Man-headed bull walking r.; crowned by Nike flying r.; (theta)E beneath bull; In ex.: [NEO]POLITWN

SNG ANS 347 var. (ARTEMI and border); HGC I 453 var (obv. symbol)

Scarcer obverse variety. Toned with hints of lustre in devices.


Despite this type being relatively common I was only introduced to it recently, and looked at many listings before I decided on this one from Civitas Galleries. I felt I got it for a great price because of the off center obverse, but I really like the level of detail on it.  I particularly love the style of the bull’s legs. I love the staters and didrachms for their incredible designs and unbelievable beauty.


Edited by Xeno
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I really love this list, as it mirrors what I bought during my first year of collecting ancients! My favourites are the Telesphoros, Istros drachm, and the Seleucid tetradrachm, a cheap gateway into the world of Greek tetradrachms! the next moment you find yourself between team owl tets or Alexander tets, I'm still figuring this out. 

Edited by JayAg47
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13 minutes ago, JayAg47 said:

I really love this list, as it mirrors what I bought during my first year of collecting ancients! My favourites are the Telesphoros, Istros drachm, and the Seleucid tetradrachm, a cheap gateway into the world of Greek tetradrachms! 

Budget has been the name of the game this year as you can probably tell. I got some nice cheap bulk lots as well from David Connors which have some really nice stuff, good ID practice too. Funnily enough looking through my old receipts when I was actively buying around 5-7 years ago was not uncommon for me to be spending $100 on a single coin and this year most of my coins have been $20 or under (and some really nice stuff for the price too). The two big single purchases were the Poseidonia and the Neapolis. Would like to own more of the really nice staters and tetradrachms but all the cheap greek bronze and roman provincial are calling my name... 

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I'm in Shanghai at the moment and the Great Firewall of China is blocking Google images, but I will look properly when I get home and pick a top 3 from these.

VPN to work was working yesterday and I could see things, but not today - oh well!


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On 12/5/2023 at 5:13 PM, Xeno said:

in the second half of the year I recovered my sanity and came back to ancient coin collecting where I belong. 

Glad to to hear of your recovery...nice top 10 list - I gave a vote for Augustus from Hieropolis! I am also a fan of Philip tetradrachms issued by Roman governors, and THRACE. Ainos Hermes gets a vote too.  Best wishes for continued enjoyment of ancients in 2024!

Here's a winged Tyche to celebrate your top 10...


Seleucid Kings of Syria, Alexander II Zabinas, 128-122 BC, Ae serrate 5.58g, 17 mm, Apamea on the Orontes (?) with transplanted engravers from Antioch (?), Denomiation B or C

Obv: Head of youthful Dionysos to right, wreathed with ivy

Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, winged Tyche standing left, wearing kalathos, holding rudder in right hand and cornucopiae in left; cornucopiae below monogram.

Ref: HGC 9, 1166. SC 2242


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  • 3 weeks later...
10 hours ago, savitale said:

What a great, diverse set of coins. I had to vote for #8 for the backstory. Congratulations on getting your mother interested in coins! In all the years I have been collecting I have never before heard of anyone achieving that particular accomplishment. 

Thank you @savitale I was a little surprised myself but she took to it very easily. We often participate in the Savoca auctions together.

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