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DonnaML's Top 12 Roman Provincial (& Greek) Coins for 2023


DonnaML

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Actually it's 11 Roman Provincial coins (out of about 20 I bought during the year), plus one ancient Greek coin, which I had to put somewhere! 

This is the first of four lists I hope to post this month. It'll be a while before I have a chance to get to my top Roman Republican, Roman Imperial, and World Coins & Medals lists -- mostly because some coins haven't arrived yet, and there are some I haven't even written up yet even though I bought them months ago.

This list is not in order of my favorites, and I'm not putting up a poll (although anyone is welcome to comment). Instead, I'm grouping them by place of origin, and in chronological order within that place: six Roman Alexandrian coins, three Antioch tetradrachms, one coin each from Moesia Inferior and Thrace, and one ancient Greek coin from Rhodes.

Roman Alexandria:

1. Tiberius and Divus Augustus, Billon Tetradrachm [RPC: 31.5% silver], Year 7 (AD 20/21), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate head of Tiberius right, ΤΙΒΕΡΙΟΣ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ around beginning at 7 o’clock, LZ [Year 7] under chin in lower right field / Rev. Radiate head of Augustus right, ΘΕΟΣ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ around beginning at 7 o’clock. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. I  5089 (1992); RPC I Online at  https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/1/5089 ; Emmett 60.7 (obv. ill p. 8 ) [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria 36 at p. 6 [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; K & G 5.10 (ill. p. 47) [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria  (2008)]; Milne 38 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Dattari (Savio) 78 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; SNG France 4, Alexandrie I 03-105 (ill. Pl. 7) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France Vol. 4, Alexandrie I, Auguste-Trajan (Zurich 1998)]; Curtis 1 at p. 1 [James W. Curtis, The Tetradrachms of Roman Egypt (1969)]; Sear RCV I 1774 (ill. p. 349). 25 mm., 12.96 g. Purchased from Kölner Münzkabinett, Tyll Kroha Nachfolger GmbH, Köln, Germany, Auction 119, 6 Oct. 2023, Lot 97.

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2. Claudius I AE Obol, Year 10 (AD 49/50), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, ΤΙ ΚΛΑV ΚΑΙ ϹƐΒΑϹ ΓƐΡΜ / Rev. Closed hand to left, holding two grain-ears and three poppies, ΑVΤ - ΟΚΡΑ across fields above hand, L - I (Year 10) across fields below hand. 20.4 mm., 4.10 g. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. I  5177 (1992); RPC I Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/1/5177; Emmett 89.10 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Milne 116 at p. 4 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; BMC 16 Alexandria 103 at p. 13 (ill. Pl. XXX) [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London 1892)], K&G 12.66 (ill. p. 52) [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria (2008)]; SNG France 4, Alexandrie I 217 (ill. Pl. 16) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France Vol. 4, Alexandrie I, Auguste-Trajan (Zurich 1998)]. Purchased from Naville Numismatics Ltd., Mayfair, London, UK, Auction 82, 18 June 2023, Lot 296.

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3. Nero, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 13 (AD 66/67), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Radiate bust of Nero left wearing aegis (with serpent upright) on left shoulder, ΝΕΡΩ ΚΛΑV ΚΑΙΣ [ΣΕΒ ΓΕΡ ΑV]; in left field before Nero, L beneath ΙΓ (Year 13) / Rev. Galley under sail right, flags at masthead and at top corners of mainsail, standard on prow, and helmsman standing right at stern; below ship, two dolphins right, playing in waves; [ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΦΟΡΟΣ]. 25.1 mm., 13.33 g.  RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. I  5296 (1992); RPC I Online 5296 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/1/5296 ); Emmett 121.13; Milne 273 (p. 8); BMC 16 Alexandria 176-177 (p. 21) (ill. Pl. XXX); K&G 14.99 (ill. p. 60); SNG Fr. IV, Alexandria I 514-520 (ill. Pl. 37); Sear RCV I 2009 (p. 395). Purchased from Dr. Busso Peus Nachf., Frankfurt a.M., Germany, Auction 434, 17 Apr. 2023, Lot 360 (ex “Collection of Dr. E.”).*

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*According to the description of this type in the catalog for CNG’s Triton XXI, “The Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection of the Coins of Roman Alexandria,” Jan. 9, 2018, Lot 16 (ill. p. 17), the type most likely “commemorates Nero’s visit to Greece in AD 66-67.” 

4. Hadrian, AE Drachm, Year 18 (133/134 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝ - ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Serpents Agathodaemon* on left, coiled around a caduceus, and Uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] on right, coiled around [poppies and] a sistrum, both serpents crowned with pschents/skhents [the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt], facing each other; LI - H (date) across fields. RPC Vol. III 5908 (2015) & RPC III Online 5908 at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5908; Milne 1424 (p. 34); Emmett 908.18; K&G 32.574; Dattari (Savio) 1991; BMC 16 Alexandria 844 (p. 92); Sear RCV II 3771 (date placement var.). 33 mm., 24.02 g., 12 h. Purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, LLC [CNG] Electronic Auction 531, 25 Jan 2023, Lot 701.  

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*The serpent Agathodaemon or Agathos Daimon -- translated variously as good spirit, noble spirit, or good genius -- was sacred to Serapis, and was worshipped in every Egyptian town. “On the coins he is always represented erect, and usually wearing the skhent, in the midst of corn and poppies, generally with a caduceus, also rising from the ground.”  BMC 16 Alexandria, p. lxxxvi. The Numiswiki definition of Agathodaemon, at https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Agathodaemon, states as follows: “Agathodaemon (Greek: ‘good spirit’) was a god of the vineyards and grainfields and of good luck, health and wisdom. It was customary to drink or pour out a glass of unmixed wine to honor him in every meal. He was the spouse or companion of Tyche Agathe (later Agatha). He was represented in art as a serpent or as a young man bearing a cornucopia and a bowl in one hand, and a poppy and an ear of corn [U.S.: grain] in the other. The agathodaemon was later adapted into a general daemon of good luck, particularly of the abundance of a family 's good food and drink.”  [Rest of fn. omitted.]

5. Hadrian, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 21 (AD 136/137), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate bust left, slight drapery on far shoulder, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΤΡΑ ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Triptolemus standing right, wearing chlamys, in biga drawn by two winged serpents crowned with pschents/skhents [the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt], his left hand holding up front of chlamys to form a pouch filled with seeds, and his right hand raised to scatter the seeds, L KA (Year 21) above serpents to right. RPC Vol. III 6135 (2015) & RPC III Online 6135 at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/6135 (date placement var.; no example with this coin’s date placement in RPC or found in acsearch); Milne 1531 (same date placement, “above to right,” as this coin); SNG France 4, Alexandrie II 2007 (ill. Pl. an 21/1) (date placement var.); Emmett 900.21; K&G 32.723; Dattari (Savio) 1485 (obv. bust var. [right], date placement var., same specimen as Staffieri 90 [Triton XXI, 9 Jan 2018], ill. p. 52); BMC 16 Alexandria 582 (ill. Pl. II) (obv. bust var. [right], date placement var.); Sear RCV II 3746 (obv. bust var. [right], date placement var.). 23 mm., 12.90 g., 11 h. Purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, LLC [CNG] Electronic Auction 531, 25 Jan 2023, Lot 710.*

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*See https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Triptolemus: “Triptolemus was a demi-god of the Eleusinian mysteries who presided over the sowing of grain-seed and the milling of wheat. His name means "He who Pounds the Husks."  In myth, Triptolemos was one of the Eleusinian princes who kindly received Demeter [Ceres] when she came mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone [Proserpina]. The young goddess was eventually returned to her from the Underworld, and Demeter in her munificence, instructed Triptolemos in the art of agriculture, and gave him a winged chariot drawn by serpents so that he might travel the world spreading her gift. 
Source: http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/EleusiniosTriptolemos.html.”

6.  Gallienus, Billon Tetradrachm, AD 260-261 (Year 8), Alexandria, Egypt mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, AVT K ΠΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB / Rev. Eagle standing left, wings open, holding wreath in beak; in left field, L H [Year 8]. Emmett 3803.8 (p. 192); BMC 16 Alexandria 2232 (p. 290); Milne 4061 (p. 97); K & G 90.39 (p. 316); Sear RCV III 10458 (p. 317). 24.00 mm., 11.21 g. Purchased from Naville Numismatics, Ltd., London, UK, Auction 80, 2 Apr 2023, Lot 404 ("From the collection of a Mentor" -- whatever that means!  [edited to add, see posts below: it means the coin came from the collection of George E. Muller, the long-time Spink Director from the 1950s-1980s-- with an accompanying old coin tag).

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Roman Antioch:

7.  Macrinus Billon Tetradrachm, Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch Mint, A.D 217-218. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from three-quarters front, AVT•  K• M• OΠ CE• MAKPINOC CEB [Autokrator Kaisaros Markos Opellios Makrinos Sebastos] / Rev. Eagle with spread wings standing facing on leg and thigh of a sacrificial animal, head to right and holding wreath in beak; •ΔΗΜΑΡΧ• ƐΞ• - VΠA•TO: [equivalent of TR P COS; ref. to tribunician power; consul]; in field to left and right of eagle’s neck, •Δ• and •Ɛ•. McAlee 721 (ill. p. 279) [Richard McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch (2007)]; Prieur 246 [Michel and Karin Prieur, Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms (London, 2000)]. 26 mm., 12.88 g., 6 hr. Purchased from Kinzer Coins, Mt. Vernon, MO, 19 Nov. 2023; ex cgb.fr (Compagnie Générale de Bourse), Paris, France (retail purchase Nov. 2022).*

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*Macrinus “was born in Caesarea (modern Cherchell, Algeria) in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis to an equestrian family of Berber origins”; he was “the first emperor who did not hail from the senatorial class and also the first emperor who never visited Rome during his reign.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrinus. Instead, he spent most of his brief tenure as emperor in Antioch, which “effectively functioned as the administrative center of the empire during his reign.” (McAlee p. 278.)

Regarding the “eagle on leg and thigh of sacrificial animal” motif, introduced under Hadrian, see McAlee p. 216:

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Regarding the significance of the Delta and Epsilon across the reverse fields on either side of the eagle’s neck, see McAlee’s discussion of those letters in connection with the late tetradrachms of Macrinus’s predecessor Caracalla, on which they first appeared. He explains that “the letters ΔЄ each have a dot to either side. They probably stand for ‘Δ ЄΠΑΡΧЄIΧΩN’ (of the four eparchies, thereby signifying that the coins were valid currency throughout the province of Syria.” See McAlee p. 270 n. 131 (footnoting McAlee 681); see also the discussion at McAlee p. 265, using the presence of ΔЄ to narrow down the probable dates of the types bearing it: “All of Caracalla’s billon tetradrachms are dated COS IV (213-217), but most of them were probably struck during 215-217, when the emperor was present in person in the east and preparations for the Parthian campaign were underway. . . . The tetradrachms with ΔЄ are very similar to the Antiochene tetradrachms of Macrinus, Caracalla’s successor, so they must have been struck at the end of Caracalla’s reign, c. 216-217. The coins without ΔЄ were probably struck somewhat earlier, and are here dated to c. 214-215, although they may not have commenced until 215, when Caracalla arrived in Antioch. The coins with ΔЄ may have been produced for civilian use, as opposed to military pay. They were probably struck at the same time as the special wartime series of tetradrachms discussed below, which do not have the letters ΔЄ.” 

McAlee’s full elaboration of his position regarding the significance of the Delta-Epsilon can be found at pp. 5-6 of his book. Note particularly the final paragraph, stating that the letters ΔЄ “first appeared on tetradrachms of Caracalla which were probably struck during 216-217 (nos. 681-682), at the same time as a special wartime series of tetradrachms (nos. 683-694) which did not have the letters ΔЄ”:

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McAlee’s book was published in 2007. Barbara Lichocka takes a different position from McAlee on the significance of the Delta-Epsilon in her 2011 article "Delta-Epsilon issues of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander," at pp. 287-323 of the book Classica Orientalia: Essays Presented to Wiktor Andrzej Daszewski on his 75th Birthday (Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, Nov. 2011). See pp. 293-295: 

“The interpretation of the meaning of the letters on the reverse is controversial. A  fairly common reading has ΔЄ standing for Δημαρχικής Eξουσίας, equivalent of tribunitia potestas (see Westholm 1936: 135; 1937: 530; Hill 1972: 235 note 3, Elagabalus; Lichocka 1999: 176–177; Amandry 1993: 17; Parks 2005: 132; Pitsillides 2004: 40 No. 77). Indication of tribunal power in abbreviated form, TR P, TR POT was common on Roman imperial coins, but ordinarily with a numeral to express successive resumptions of office. For the first year the numeral was omitted (see RIC IV/2: 27–42, 69, 71–80, 90–91). Although omission of the numeral on coins struck also after the first regnal year, for example, on the obverses of bronzes of Vespasian (RIC II: 66), has been noted, it should be emphasized that the title appeared always together with other titles of the emperor as part of the legend.”

McAlee’s interpretation makes more sense to me, although I am hardly an expert on the subject. It seems rather unlikely that the Delta-Epsilon was simply an indication of the tribunician power of the emperor in the form of an abbreviation for ΔΗΜΑΡXKCH, etc. If so, the letters would have been redundant on coins, such as this one, that already set forth the tribunician power in their legends.

8.  Gordian III billon Tetradrachm, Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch Mint, A.D. 238-240. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind, ΑΥΤΟΚ Κ Μ ΑΝΤ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟC CЄΒ / Rev. Eagle with spread wings standing facing, head left, holding wreath in beak, tail to left, ΔΗΜΑΡ – Χ ƐΞΟΥϹΙΑϹ [TR. POT.]; in exergue, S C [with minor die break obscuring “C”]. McAlee 860, Group I(a) (p. 320) (obv. die match with specimen 860/2, ill. p. 321) [Richard McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch (2007)]; Prieur 282 [Michel and Karin Prieur, Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms (London, 2000)]; RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Online VII.2 3488 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/7.2/3488); BMC 20 Syria 494 p. 211 (ill. Pl. xxv.2) [Warwick Wroth, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 20, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Syria (London, 1899)].  26 mm., 11.54 g., 7 hr. Purchased from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 223rd Buy or Bid Sale, 20 Apr. 2023, Lot 395, from Mark Gibbons Collection; ex Leu Numismatik Web Auction 17, 15 Aug 2021, Lot 1897 (Leu ticket enclosed).* (Video of coin at https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/item-detail/ancient-coins/100412?fromBbs=223rd Buy Or Bid Sale ).** [Footnotes omitted.]

Here is the HJB photo, which is darker than the coin in hand:

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Here is the Leu photo, which is lighter than the coin in hand -- the reality is in between!

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9.  Marcia Otacilia Severa (wife of Philip I), Billon Tetradrachm, AD 247 [Regnal Year 3], Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch. Obv. Draped bust right, seen from front, wearing stephane, crescent behind shoulders, ΜΑΡ ΩΤΑΚΙΛ ϹƐΟΥΗΡΑΝ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Eagle standing right, head right, left wing behind left leg, wreath in beak, ΔΗΜΑΡΧ ƐΞΟΥϹΙΑϹ ΥΠΑ ΤΟ Γ [Year 3] around; below eagle, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΙΑ; in exergue, S C. 27 mm., 11.62 g.  Prieur 383 [Michel and Karin Prieur, Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms (London, 2000)]; McAlee 1096 (ill. p. 363) [Group (b), Type 2 Eagle] [Richard McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch (2007)] (“Rare”); RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Online VIII, unassigned ID 28993 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/type/28993). Purchased from Kinzer Coins, Mt. Vernon, MO, May 2023; ex Aegean Numismatics, Mentor, OH (with Aegean coin ticket).*

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*See McAlee p. 361, explaining that Otacilia Severa “was the first woman to be depicted on the tetradrachms of Antioch unaccompanied by a male ruler.” (The only empress to be depicted alone after Otacilia was Herennia Etruscilla, so there were only two in total.) 

McAlee also points out (id.) that “all of Otacilia’s Antiochene coins are scarce or rare, and were struck in much smaller numbers than the corresponding coins of Philip I and II.” For example, ACSearch lists 22 examples of this particular type of Otacilia Severa tetradrachm (McAlee 1096, with the obverse legend reading ΩΤΑΚΙΛ instead of ΩΤΑΚΙΛI, and the eagle standing right with its left wing behind its leg), and a total of 543 examples of all types of Otacilia Severa tetradrachms from Antioch. Which may not seem like a small number, until one compares it to her husband: ACSearch lists more than 2,200 examples of all types of Philip I’s tetradrachms from Antioch.

Moesia Inferior:

10.  Septimius Severus, AE Tetrassarion, AD 201-203, Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum, struck for Septimius Severus by Aurelius Gallus, legatus Augusti pro praetore. Obv. Laureate head right, AV • K • L • CEΠ – CEVHPOC • Π[ligate with E?] / Rev. River-god Istros, laureate, nude to hips, reclining right (from viewer’s perspective), head turned to right, holding with right hand a tree with four foliate twigs and resting left elbow on urn from which water flows, VΠA AVP ΓAΛΛOV NEIKOΠ; in exergue, ΠPOC IC. AMNG I/I 1310 [Pick, Behrendt, Die antiken Münzen von Dacien und Moesien, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands Vol. I/I (Berlin, 1898) at p. 366 (ill. Pl. XVII nr. 34), available at https://archive.org/details/p1dieantikenmn01akaduoft/page/366/mode/2up?view=theater].* HH&J 8.14.32.14 [Hristova, H., H.-J. Hoeft, & G. Jekov, The Coins of Moesia Inferior 1st - 3rd c. AD: Nicopolis ad Istrum (Blagoevgrad, 2015)]; Varbanov (Eng.) Vol. I, 2642 [Ivan Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins And Their Values, Volume I: Dacia, Moesia Superior & Moesia Inferior (English Edition) (Bourgas, Bulgaria, 2005)](var. legends). Possible die match to examples sold by Künker in April 2017 (see https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3782272 ) and posted by Jochen1 at Forvm Ancient coins in March 2006 (see https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=26898.msg175825#msg175825). 27 mm., 17.54 g., 1 h.  Purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, LLC (CNG) E-Auction 531, Jan. 25, 2023, Lot 478; from the Dr. Michael Slavin Collection of River-God Coins, previous purchase “PB 12/18/99” according to accompanying coin envelope.

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*Here is the Pick description of AMNG 1310, which appears to have the same legends as this coin, except for the possible additional letter “E” ligate with the final Π in this coin’s obverse legend, proposed by Dr. Slavin in his coin description on the accompanying envelope:

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Roman Thracia:

11.  Gordian III, AE 26x28 mm., AD 238-244, Thrace, Hadrianopolis (now Edirne, Turkey). Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right [small planchet defect on cheek], seen from rear, AVT K M ANT – ΓΟPΔIANOC AVΓ (AVΓ ligate) / Rev. Helios, radiate, standing facing, head left, nude apart from cloak falling from left shoulder, raising right hand, and holding globe and whip in left hand, AΔPIANO – Π – OΛEITΩN. 26x28 mm., 9.56 g. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Online VII.2 708 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/7.2/708) [Specimen 20 is this coin, used as “plate coin” for type]; Varbanov II 3793 [Ivan Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins And Their Values, Vol. II, Thrace (from Abdera to Pautalia) (English Edition) (Bourgas, Bulgaria 2005)]; Jurukova 479 (die combination 249/497=465, a new combination) [Y. Jurukova, The Coinage of the Towns in Moesia Inferior and Thrace, 2nd-3rd centuries AD: Hadrianopolis (Sophia 1987)].  Purchased from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 223rd Buy or Bid Sale, 20 Apr. 2023, Lot 397, from Mark Gibbons Collection; ex Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung, Online Auction 271, 20 May, 2020, Lot 257. (Video of coin at https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/item-detail/ancient-coins/100346?fromBbs=223rd Buy Or Bid Sale.)             

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Ancient Greek/Rhodes:

12.  Islands off Caria, Rhodos, Rhodes, AR Drachm (Attic weight standard, ca. 88/42 BCE – AD 14).* Obv. Radiate head of Helios facing, turned slightly to the right / Rev. Rose of six petals seen from above; corn- ear beneath rose to left; Ρ – O [= “RO”] flanking rose; above, magistrate’s name ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ [Kritiokles/Kritokles**]; all within circle of large dots. Ashton & Weiss No. 142a-c at p. 8 (die catalog A36/P140) (ill. Pl. 6) [Ashton, Richard & Arnold-Peter Weiss, "The Post-Plinthophoric Silver Drachms of Rhodes" in Numismatic Chronicle 1997 pp. 1-39 & pls. 1-16]; BMC 18 Caria 337-338 (same obverse die; ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse) [Head, Barclay V., A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Caria, Cos, Rhodes, etc. (London 1897)]; SNG Keckman 742 (same obverse die) [Westermark U. and Ashton R., Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Finland, The Erkki Keckman Collection in the Skopbank, Helsinki, Part 1: Karia (Helsinki, 1994); SNG Lockett 2971 (same dies, ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection Part III (Macedonia - Aegina) (London 1942)] [see description & ill. of that specimen at http://www.s391106508.websitehome.co.uk/PHP/SNG_PHP/04_03_Reply.php?Series=SNGuk&AccessionNo=0300_2971 ]; Sear Greek Coins II 5069 (ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse; see p. 460) [Sear, David, Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. 2: Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979)].  19 mm, 4.13 g, 6 h. Purchased from Nomos AG, Zürich, Switzerland, Fixed Price List 15, 12 Jan. 2023, Lot 69 [picked up at NYINC 2023]; ex Nomos Obolos Auction 15, 24 May 2020, Lot 398; from Collection of Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss (partner in Nomos AG).***  

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*See the Ashton & Weiss article cited above (which Dr. Weiss has kindly provided to me) at p. 21, concluding, after an analysis of the weights of all known examples of this series of Rhodian drachms, that the series conformed to the Attic weight standard (which, in practice, was approximately 4.2 g. for the drachm during the “New Style” period; see John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Greek Coins [London, Seaby, 1986], entry for “Attic weight standard” at p. 35):

“Although there is considerable variation in the the above table, there is now a rough but definable peak at about 4.1 – 4.2 g., which seems by and large to be consistent throughout the series. This is of course too high for a denarius, but too low for a cistophoric trihemidrachm, whatever cistophoric weight standard is used. On the greatly expanded weight table which the new material now makes possible, the coins weighing above 4.3 g. look more like exceptional outliers than a separate group, and it seems to us unnecessary to suppose that there was more than one standard in use. We thus come full circle and conclude that our coins were intended as full Attic weight drachms.”

In terms of the absolute chronology of the series, which previously was “conventionally dated to the period 88-43 BC, immediately after the end of the plinthophoroi” (id. p. 32), Ashton & Weiss reach a different conclusion, as follows, for the reasons stated at length in their article:

“We thus suggest tentatively that the Attic weight drachms ended some time during the reign of Augustus, when they were succeeded by the large bronze 'drachms' with the same types. The date when the Attic weight silver commences is, on present evidence, unclear. If a specific occasion is sought for some of the issues, not necessarily early ones, one might speculatively suggest the need for money to rebuild the city of Rhodes and the fleet after the destruction wrought by Cassius and by Cassius Parmensis in 43 and 42 BC. BC. It is true that Cassius is said to have exacted inter alia 8500 talents of public and private money from Rhodes, but Herod the Great is known to have sent money to Rhodes for reconstruction work after his visit to the island in 40 BC.  If at least part of the Attic weight drachms are thus to be brought down to the 40s BC and later, the gap in coining plinthophoroi which this might imply could, if necessary, be explained by the activities of the pirates or a dislocation in silver supplies caused by the Sullan indemnity. It is worth noting that the the Lycian League apparently ceased to mint silver by the late 80s BC and resumed only in the 40s BC.”

(Id. pp. 35-36.)

In short, although Ashton & Weiss believe that there is a somewhat certain end-date to the series (the reign of Augustus), the beginning-date could be anywhere during a period of more than 40 years. I have not seen anything to indicate that the beginning-date of the series has been more firmly established since the 1997 publication of this article.

**There are 351 different die-combinations listed for this series of Rhodian drachms in the 1997 Ashton & Weiss Numismatic Chronicle article. 110 of those combinations are unsigned (the earliest examples of the issue), and 241 bear one of 43 different magistrates’ names. 21 of those 241 signed die combinations (nos. 138-158, including my specimen’s die combination no. 142) -- comprising only four different obverse dies together with 21 different reverse dies -- bear the name of magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on the reverse above the rose. The ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ drachms are always accompanied by a corn ear beneath the rose. (See id. pp. 7-9, 19, 21). In their relative chronology, Ashton & Weiss place the group of issues with a corn ear symbol beneath the rose, including four other magistrates’ names besides ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ, as the second earliest main group of these drachms, directly following the unsigned issues. Within that group of five magistrates, they place the coins of ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ and one other magistrate, with Helios oriented towards the right, after the coins of the three other magistrates, which depict Helios oriented towards the left. (See id. pp. 19-20, 28-29.)

In eight examples recorded on acsearch, including the previous 2020 auction of my specimen, Nomos AG's descriptions of Rhodian drachms bearing the name of magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ  have transcribed the name as "Kritiokles," as did one example auctioned by Davissons -- as well as the Nomos FPL listing from which I purchased my specimen in connection with the 2023 NYINC. In one 2021 auction description by Nomos, and in the descriptions of all other auction houses (in the 21 examples found on acsearch), the name has been rendered instead as "Kritokles." Indeed, the Ashton & Weiss article itself also transcribes the name as “Kritokles”; see Ashton & Weiss, op. cit. at pp. 20, 22-23, 27-29. However, in response to my email inquiry about the reason for Nomos’s “Kritiokles” transcription, given the absence of a vowel between the “T” and the “O,” Dr. Weiss stated in an email dated Jan. 16, 2023 that “We believe that our ‘translation’ of the ancient Greek is correct but there is some variability as these names don't translate one-to-one often.”

***Confirmed by email correspondence dated Jan. 16, 2023.

Edited by DonnaML
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Great pickups for the year and as always informative. 

I think my favorite is the Hadrian with the biga drawn by serpents. I can't imagine it was an effective means of transportation, though. They might as well have tried using cats. (just looked up that there's actually a RR coin with a lion biga...)

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3 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

Great pickups for the year and as always informative. 

I think my favorite is the Hadrian with the biga drawn by serpents. I can't imagine it was an effective means of transportation, though. They might as well have tried using cats. (just looked up that there's actually a RR coin with a lion biga...)

Indeed: 

Roman Republic, M. [Marcus] Volteius, AR Denarius, 78 BCE (Crawford) or 75 BCE (Harlan). Obv. Helmeted, draped bust of young deity (Attis or Corybas [male] or Bellona [female])* right (with Phrygian[?] helmet bound with laurel-wreath, and long flowing hair beneath helmet); behind, control-symbol of thyrsus** / Rev. Cybele, wearing turreted crown [off flan] and veil, in biga of lions right, holding reins in left hand and patera in right hand; control mark Θ (Theta) above**; in exergue, M•VOLTEI•M•F. 17.5 mm., 3.89 g. Crawford 385/4; RSC I Volteia 4 (ill. p. 100); BMCRR I 3185 (specimen with control-marks thyrsus & Θ); Sear RCV I 315 (ill. p. 131); RBW Collection 1417 (ill. p. 291); Harlan RRM I Ch. 12 pp. 62-66 [Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (Vol. I) (2012)]; Yarrow pp. 168-171 (ill. Fig. 4.9 at p. 171) (Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]. Purchased 6 April 2022, Künker [Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, Osnabrück, Germany] Auction 367, 6 April 2022, Lot 7-793; ex Artemide Auction LIII, 2-3 May 2020, Lot 212.***   

 image.png.c6a73853b2f4023b2e0e62aec488bbf1.png

*The authorities disagree on the identity of the obverse bust, whether it is male or female, and whether it can be identified at all. See Crawford Vol. I pp. 400, 402 (“The identity of the obverse type of 4 is uncertain; Attis . . . Corybas . . . and Bellona . . . are suggested, in every case without decisive evidence”) (citations omitted); Sear RCV I 315 at p. 131 (no identification); Yarrow at p. 171, Fig. 4.9 (“uncertain long-haired divinity”); RSC I at p. 100 (“Attis or young Corybas”); BMCRR I 3179 at p. 390 (“Attis(?)”); Harlan RRM I at p. 64 (“most likely Attis”); Künker Auction 367, Lot 7-793 description (identifying the obverse as Bellona, the Roman goddess of war, citing Hollstein, Wilhelm, Roman Coinage in the years 78-50 BC [Die stadtrömische Münzprägung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr.] (Munich 1993).

I think that Attis or Corybas would seem to be more likely identifications than Bellona, given their connections to Cybele, the deity portrayed in the lion biga on the reverse. By contrast, I am not aware of any thematic connection between Bellona and Cybele. Thus, Attis was a “Phrygian god, the companion of the Great Mother of the Gods (see Cybele), who castrated himself, died and was brought back to life again.” See Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (London, Seaby 1990), entry for “Attis” at p. 28.  Corybas was “the son of Iasion and the goddess Cybele, who gave his name to the Corybantes (Koribantes), or dancing priests of Phrygia.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corybas_(mythology). See also Jones, op. cit., entry for “Corybant” at p. 74, defining the term as “a male follower of the goddess Cybele. Since the Corybants celebrated her rites by leaping and dancing, clashing weapons and cymbals, they are sometimes confused with the Curetes of Crete, who used to engage in similar activities.”

**Regarding the obverse control-symbol on my coin of a thyrsus (a staff covered with ivy, topped with a pine cone, associated with Bacchus and his followers), and the reverse control-mark of a Θ (Theta), see Crawford I p. 399, explaining that “a given control-symbol on [385/]4 is always paired with the same control-numeral; no pair of control-marks has more than one pair of dies.” For the control-mark pairings attested as of Crawford’s publication in 1974, see Crawford’s Table xxxv at Crawford I p. 401, listing the Thyrsus and Θ as a known combination (citing Paris, A 16891). See also BMCRR I 3185 at p. 391, citing the British Museum’s specimen of the same pairing.

***The generally-accepted interpretation of the depiction of Cybele in a biga of lions on the reverse of this coin (together with the portrayal of Cybele’s companion Attis or her son Corybas on the obverse), is that it refers to one of the five major annual games celebrated in the Roman Calendar, specifically the Ludi Megalenses honoring Cybele – just as the designs of the four other types issued by Marcus Volteius in 78 BCE (Crawford 385/1-3 & 5) referred to four other major games, the Ludi Cereales (Ceres), the Ludi Apollinares (Apollo), the Ludi Romani (Jupiter), and the Ludi Plebeii or Herculani (Hercules). See Crawford I p. 402; Harlan RRM I pp. 62-67 (and specifically pp. 63-66 regarding Cybele and the Ludi Megalenses). See Yarrow pp. 168-169: “Crawford suggestes that the issue is anticipating the moneyer’s campaign for an aedileship and encodes a promise of largitones, or generosity, in his potential staging of the games. Yet, different magistrates oversaw each of these games; the ludi Cereales fell under the purview of the plebeian aediles; the ludi Romani under the curule aediles; and the ludi Apollinares under the praetor urbanus. The moneyer cannot be campaigning for all simultaneously. Instead , we might want to think about this series as a miniature fasti (calendar) or symbolic representation of the religious year. For all we know, the moneyer may have originally intended to strike types for other festivals and for one reason or another simply never did; not all of the five types were struck in equal proportion, those in honor of Apollo being represented by the fewest known dies [see the die totals for each type at Crawford I p. 399].”

Specifically concerning the Ludi Megalenses, see Harlan RRM I at pp. 63-66:

“The Ludi Megalenses held between 4 and 10 April were the first games of the calendar year. Volteius represented these games with the depiction of a male head wearing a Phrygian helmet on the obverse and the goddess Cybele driving a cart drawn by a pair of lions on the reverse. Cybele, also known as the Great Mother, was a Phrygian goddess whose frenzied rituals were quite foreign to Roman sensitivities. [Lengthy quotation on subject of Cybele from Lucretius’s poem On the Nature of Things omitted.] The Phrygian followers of Idaean Cybele were called Corybantes, but in Latin literature they were frequently confused with the Curetes, who concealed infant Jupiter’s cries on Mount Ida in Crete. It may be one of these Corybantes who appears to be represented on the obverse of Volteius’ coin, but more likely it is Attis, the young consort of Cybele. He is usually depicted in Phrygian trousers fastened with toggles down the front and a laureate Phrygian cap. His act of self-castration is the reason why Cybele’s priests were eunuchs and why in Rome Cybele’s worship remained distinctly Greek in character and was maintained by Greek priests. Romans were prohibited by decree of the Senate from taking part in the priestly service of the goddess. Even the name of the games remained Greek, derived from Megale Mater meaning Great Mother. The goddess did not become part of the Roman pantheon until 204 [BCE]. In that year the Sybilline books were consulted because, according to Livy, it had rained stones more than usual that year. In the books a prophecy was found that if the Romans ever wished to drive out a foreign enemy who had invaded Italy, they would be successful if they should bring Cybele, the Idaean Mother of the Gods, from Pessinus to Rome. [Lengthy description omitted of transportation of Cybele to Rome, with cooperation of Attalus of Pergamum, who had recently become an ally of Rome.] The day of her installation was 4 April 204 and games were held in her honor for the first time. The specific contests of the first games were not recorded, but scenic games were added for the first time . . . in 194. At some point in the development of the games, the re-enactment of the goddess’ reception into Rome became part of the ceremonies. . . .

Volteius’ coin depicts Cybele in her typical Greek aspect rather than as the sacred stone that was brought to Rome. She wears a mural crown and drives a cart pulled by a pair of lions, beasts once common to Phrygia.”

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10 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

I figured you'd have an example. 🙂 

Of course, anyone who has cats will understand this has a 0% chance of working...

They'll get wherever they decide to go faster than the snakes, though.

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Gorgeous coins Donna, I agree with @kirispupismy favorite is the biga being drawn by snakes, also a big fan of the Gallienus tetradrachm, love the style of the eagle.

Also love the one being drawn by lions! Always fun to discover a beautiful new type.

Edited by Xeno
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All great coins in excellent condition (an aspect where my coins usually fail).

I will follow the tradition and pick 3 favorites - the Claudius diobol (a type I was not aware of), the Nero tetradrachm with the galley (a type on my wish list) and the Hadrian tetradrachm with the biga of snakes (another type I haven't seen until now). 

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Lovely and very interesting coins.  Most of which I knew little about........until now!

The Rhodes drachm is a coin I'm familiar with and for that reason is a favourite. Great style and centering. 

However, if I could only own one of your coins, I think I'd pick the Nero tetradrachm. The galley design is awesome and even has a couple if dolphins in the water. Really interesting coin.

Look forward to seeing your other coins when you have time.

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1 hour ago, AETHER said:

All great, BUT.. the Gordian III from Antioch is a stunner, the realism and expression are unreal. 

[Edited: sorry, for some reason I misread what you wrote and thought you were talking about the Gallienus.] It's way better-done than most Gallienus Imperial coins, I think. Pretty much the opposite of the situation 100 or 200 years earlier.

Edited by DonnaML
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Along vaguely similar lines, my hair was really blown back by the Gallienus Alexandrian tetradrachm, too.  The realism of that one, not to mention the relief, also compare very favorably to his non-provincial issues.  ...Surprising to me, since I'm more familiar with the tetradrachms from, say, Probus on.  By contrast, the Gallienus example is still more in the tradition of Julio-Claudian to Antonine ones.

Edited by JeandAcre
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16 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Along vaguely similar lines, my hair was really blown back by the Gallienus Alexandrian tetradrachm, too.  The realism of that one, not to mention the relief, also compare very favorably to his non-provincial issues.  ...Surprising to me, since I'm more familiar with the tetradrachms from, say, Probus on.  By contrast, the Gallienus exampel is still more in the tradition of Julio-Claudian to Antonine ones.

That's actually the one I was talking about. See my edit above 

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Aha!  Got it. 

As anyone would notice, I speak 'edit' fluently, for numerous reasons.  ...For one, I effectively have to relearn how to type every day.

(Oops: Edit redux:) ...But they range from annoyances like that all the way to what's happening in the content, on a cognitive level,.  After, for two instances, four years of a certain administration, and (for lots more of us) extended sheltering in place, stuff can happen.

Edited by JeandAcre
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1 hour ago, JeandAcre said:

Aha!  Got it. 

As anyone would notice, I speak 'edit' fluently, for numerous reasons.  ...For one, I effectively have to relearn how to type every day.

(Oops: Edit redux:) ...But they range from annoyances like that all the way to what's happening in the content, on a cognitive level,.  After, for two instances, four years of a certain administration, and (for lots more of us) extended sheltering in place, stuff can happen.

Somehow, I mistook Gordian & Antioch for Gallienus & Alexandria, because I had the latter on my mind at that moment. At least I managed to read the initial letters correctly!

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An excellent assortment of coins! I think my favorites are No. 3 (that's a great galley reverse!) - No. 5 (love that biga of serpents) - and No. 6 (fabulous portrait and sharp reverse, too!)

Congrats on a great year - and I look forward to seeing your other 2023 acquisitions! 

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On 12/7/2023 at 1:28 PM, DonnaML said:

("From the collection of a Mentor" -- whatever that means! -- with an accompanying old coin tag).

Hi @DonnaML,

I love all the Alexandrians! @Curtisimo identified the Mentor collection in a recent post here.

“From the collection of a Mentor (George E. Muller, Dir. of ancient coins at Spink from 1953-1982), ex Naville Numismatics 74, lot 42 (June 2022)”

- Broucheion 

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Thanks for the shout out @Broucheion.

@DonnaML. Beautiful coins!

Your coin is ex George E. Muller and definitely has a Spink connection. I also have an old tag from this collection. I suspect my tag was written by Leonard Forrer (1869-1953) who held the position of Director of Ancient Coins at Spink before Muller and acted as his mentor (the mentor of the Mentor!). 

Your tag might be from the same hand as mine. Look at the monogram style AE and AR and the use of “4 Drs” instead of “tetradrachm."

IMG_6520.jpeg.74de1c23bfbcc744c2a8697ea414b0d3.jpeg

IMG_6071.jpeg.e4816dda523a2d63b5dbc6fdf9d1221e.jpeg
 

My working theory is that my coin was sold by Spink in 1941. The Numismatic Circulars of that era are almost impossible to find as you and I discussed on another thread recently.

It’s too bad @Andrew McCabedoesn’t visit the forum very often. I would be interested to get his thoughts. Does anyone know if he frequents any other venues?

Edited by Curtisimo
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