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The Obligatory Palm Sunday Thread


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Palms are commonly depicted on ancient coins. In the spirit of Palm Sunday, let's see them!

Palm fronds are often used as a design element, such as on these prutot:

[IMG]
Antonius Felix, Procurator under Claudius, AD 52-60.
Judean Æ Prutah, 2.42 g, 17.2 mm.
Caesaria mint, AD 54.
Obv: ΙΟΥΛΙΑ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑ (Julia Agrippina, wife of Claudius) within a wreath tied at the bottom with an X.
Rev: ΤΙ ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟC ΚΑΙCΑΡ ΓΕΡΜ, two crossed palm fronds, LΙΔ (year 14) below.
Refs: Hendin 651; Meshorer TJC 342.

[IMG]
Porcius Festus, Procurator under Nero, AD 59-62.
Judean Æ Prutah, 2.51 g, 16.2 mm.
Caesarea mint, AD 58-59.
Obv: NЄPѠNOC in 3 lines, surrounded by wreath.
Rev: Palm branch surrounded by KAICAPO, LЄ (year 5).
Refs: Hendin 653; Meshorer TJC 345.

Or a palm frond may be used as a mark in the field, such as on the obverse of this coin:

[IMG]
Philistis, wife of Hieron II.
Greek AR 5 litrae.
Syracuse 270-230 BCE, 4.46 gm, 18.1 mm.
Obv: Diademed and veiled head, l., palm branch behind.
Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΑΣ ΦΙΛΙΣΤΙΔΟΣ, Nike driving biga to left, E in l. field.
Refs: SNG ANS 893; SNG III (Lockett) 1017; Forrer 196.

Palm fronds are often attributes of various personifications and goddesses.

Hilaritas:

FaustinaJrHilaritasSCAs.jpg.35c1d5142ea95778eb07c4326324548c.jpg
Faustina II, AD 147-175/6.
Roman Æ as, 9.72 g, 25.7 mm, 5 h.
Rome, AD 148-152.
Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, draped bust wearing band of pearls around the head, right.
Rev: HILARITAS S C, Hilaritas standing right, adjusting veil and holding long palm.
Refs: RIC 1396b; BMCRE 2151-52; Cohen 115; RCV 4725.

Nike/Victoria:

DomnaTomisNiketriassarion.jpg.6690038ced3477cae44eb73a78450122.jpg
Julia Domna AD 193-217.
Roman provincial AE triassarion, 8.75 gm, 24.4 mm, 6 h.
Moesia Inferior, Tomis, AD 193-211.
Obv: ΙΟVΛΙΑ ΔΟΜΝΑ CE, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
Rev: ΜΗΤ ΠΟΝ ΤΟΜΕΩC, Nike advancing l., holding wreath and palm, retrograde Γ (=3) to left.
Refs: Varbanov 4857; AMNG 2811.

Venus Victrix:

DomnaVENERIVICTRSestertius.jpg.90268a29a3090842cdcf735ba10b9175.jpg
Julia Domna, AD 193-217
Roman oricalchum sestertius, 21.41 g, 28.8 mm.
Rome, AD 194, issue 4.
Obv: JULIA DOMNA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
Rev: VENERI VICTR SC, Venus, naked to waist, standing r., holding apple and palm, resting l. elbow on column.
Refs: RIC-842; BMCRE-488; Cohen-195; Sear-6631; Hill-113.

Even birds can hold them!

[IMG]
Mysia, Pergamon, 200-133 BC.
Bronze Æ 15.7 mm, 3.55 g, 12 h.
Obv: Head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet ornamented with star.
Rev: AΘΗ-ΝΑΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, owl standing facing on palm, with wings spread,TK monogram left and ΠΛ right.
Refs: SNG Copenhagen 388 (same); c.f. SNG von Aulock 1375-6, BMC 197-199, SNG France 1920-2, SNG BN 1913-6 (various monograms).

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Simon Bar Kokhba Revolt, 132-133
image.png.d860a4faf6d2a4ee6bfbbcc00e3e46ac.png
Judaea. Bronze, 17.5mm, 5.92g. Grape bunch on tendril with branch and small vine leaf; שנת אחת לגאלת ישראל (year one of the redemption of Zion). Seven-branched palm tree with two bunches of dates; כ ה זנ רה א לע (ELAZAR HaKOHEN, Eleazar the Priest) (Meshorer 224).

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Posted · Administrator
13 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

Palms are commonly depicted on ancient coins. In the spirit of Palm Sunday, let's see them!

Palm fronds are often used as a design element, such as on these prutot:

[IMG]
Antonius Felix, Procurator under Claudius, AD 52-60.
Judean Æ Prutah, 2.42 g, 17.2 mm.
Caesaria mint, AD 54.
Obv: ΙΟΥΛΙΑ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑ (Julia Agrippina, wife of Claudius) within a wreath tied at the bottom with an X.
Rev: ΤΙ ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟC ΚΑΙCΑΡ ΓΕΡΜ, two crossed palm fronds, LΙΔ (year 14) below.
Refs: Hendin 651; Meshorer TJC 342.

[IMG]
Porcius Festus, Procurator under Nero, AD 59-62.
Judean Æ Prutah, 2.51 g, 16.2 mm.
Caesarea mint, AD 58-59.
Obv: NЄPѠNOC in 3 lines, surrounded by wreath.
Rev: Palm branch surrounded by KAICAPO, LЄ (year 5).
Refs: Hendin 653; Meshorer TJC 345.

Or a palm frond may be used as a mark in the field, such as on the obverse of this coin:

[IMG]
Philistis, wife of Hieron II.
Greek AR 5 litrae.
Syracuse 270-230 BCE, 4.46 gm, 18.1 mm.
Obv: Diademed and veiled head, l., palm branch behind.
Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΑΣ ΦΙΛΙΣΤΙΔΟΣ, Nike driving biga to left, E in l. field.
Refs: SNG ANS 893; SNG III (Lockett) 1017; Forrer 196.

Palm fronds are often attributes of various personifications and goddesses.

Hilaritas:

FaustinaJrHilaritasSCAs.jpg.35c1d5142ea95778eb07c4326324548c.jpg
Faustina II, AD 147-175/6.
Roman Æ as, 9.72 g, 25.7 mm, 5 h.
Rome, AD 148-152.
Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, draped bust wearing band of pearls around the head, right.
Rev: HILARITAS S C, Hilaritas standing right, adjusting veil and holding long palm.
Refs: RIC 1396b; BMCRE 2151-52; Cohen 115; RCV 4725.

Nike/Victoria:

DomnaTomisNiketriassarion.jpg.6690038ced3477cae44eb73a78450122.jpg
Julia Domna AD 193-217.
Roman provincial AE triassarion, 8.75 gm, 24.4 mm, 6 h.
Moesia Inferior, Tomis, AD 193-211.
Obv: ΙΟVΛΙΑ ΔΟΜΝΑ CE, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
Rev: ΜΗΤ ΠΟΝ ΤΟΜΕΩC, Nike advancing l., holding wreath and palm, retrograde Γ (=3) to left.
Refs: Varbanov 4857; AMNG 2811.

Venus Victrix:

DomnaVENERIVICTRSestertius.jpg.90268a29a3090842cdcf735ba10b9175.jpg
Julia Domna, AD 193-217
Roman oricalchum sestertius, 21.41 g, 28.8 mm.
Rome, AD 194, issue 4.
Obv: JULIA DOMNA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
Rev: VENERI VICTR SC, Venus, naked to waist, standing r., holding apple and palm, resting l. elbow on column.
Refs: RIC-842; BMCRE-488; Cohen-195; Sear-6631; Hill-113.

Even birds can hold them!

[IMG]
Mysia, Pergamon, 200-133 BC.
Bronze Æ 15.7 mm, 3.55 g, 12 h.
Obv: Head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet ornamented with star.
Rev: AΘΗ-ΝΑΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, owl standing facing on palm, with wings spread,TK monogram left and ΠΛ right.
Refs: SNG Copenhagen 388 (same); c.f. SNG von Aulock 1375-6, BMC 197-199, SNG France 1920-2, SNG BN 1913-6 (various monograms).

That owl is adorable 😍

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I was just going to make this thread but you beat me to it!

 

cons2vict7.jpg.dedce78137a15da3f80d96b32c6bbf6f.jpg

Constantius II, AD 337-361.
AE3, 17mm, 1.8g; Siscia mint.
Obv.: CONSTANTIVS PF AVG; Diademed, cuirassed bust right.
Rev.: VICTORIAE DD AVGG Q NN; Two Victories standing facing, each holding a wreath, palm branch between; ASIS in exergue.
Ref.: RIC 194. 
 
 
Seleucid7.jpg.4a721ea1aff7f999c846be9e76b7de11.jpg
 
SELEUCID KINGDOM
Antiochus XII Dionysos, 87/6-84/3 BC.
AE21m 8.27g; Damascus Mint.
Obv.: Diademed head of Antiochos XII right.
Rev.: Tyche standing left, holding palm and cornucopia.
Ref.: HGC 9, 1331 
 
 

nike7.jpg.055ff6e532f9a36b4e51c9594e35fe4b.jpg

 

EGYPT. Alexandria.
Potin Tetradrachm, 20mm, 7.5g. RY 3 = AD 286/7
Obv.: A K ΓOYAΛ ΔIOKΛHTIANOC CEB; Laureate and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.: Nike walking right holding wreath and palm, star in right field; ETOYC Γ (date) across fields
Ref.: Emmett 4064 
 
 
 
 
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Posted · Supporter

3728282_1675011954.l-removebg-preview.png.79ff429ee44b93c03921324df04adaae.png.1e8f6c85fee09479c4257246f3cff5a1.png.7ebebc17b3c02346b50d40255c23725f.png

PHRYGIA, Kibyra.

Circa 166-84 BC. AR Drachm (15mm, 2.65 g, 11h). Helmeted head of male (Kibyras?) right / Horseman, holding couched spear and palm, riding right; O below. HGC 7, 706; SNG Ashmolean 996 var. (O below). VF

1610629_1609748970.l-removebg-preview.png.e30f7e79d0202a6f91d0effd5973d271.png.f7a3186278950e3af2f5bc52fa3600c9.png

IONIA. Smyrna. Ae (Circa 115-105 BC). Paramonos, magistrate. Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right. Rev: ΠAPAMO ΣΜΥΡΝΑΙ. Hand in caestus; palm to right. Milne 1927, 239. Good very fine. 1.91 g, 14 mm. Numismatik Naumann Feb 2021

2017359_1624822945.l-removebg-preview.png.e8c2c0f3b3a5ad0b4d77b4ecb0a666c4.png.b5058ce10b5705312d190ac276c969d8.png.15bd234aaa26a9fe8bca737a4e769bc4.png

Philip II AR Tetradrachm. Pella, 342-336 BC. Lifetime issue. Laureate head of Zeus right / Youth on horseback right, holding palm and reins; thunderbolt below, [N in exergue]. Le Rider 222-306. 14.22g, 24mm, 7h. VF. Purchased from Savoca July 2021

Screenshot_20220910_155607-removebg-preview.png.76ad822e8988738137fb7fcca0f7a867.png.cfabf6d2b39d0454acd282fcedc5f6bd.png.adec57d6952bdeaf8dd2921dd2189c49.png

Spain, Carthago Nova Æ Unit. Roman Occupation, after 209 BC. Bare-head left (Scipio Africanus?) / Horse standing right; palm tree behind. CNH Class XI, 282; SNG BM Spain 127-128. 10.04g, 23mm, 12h.

Good Very Fine. Excellent for issue. Very rare. Gift from @bcuda

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A selection of palm features

5FbPYso3L4rR6PwqNjc2ay7WkJD98f.jpg.09d7d6de243d54f473e370cea413c562.jpg

ANTONIUS FELIX AE Prutah. Roman Procurator of Judaea under Claudius. AD 54.
Obverse: NЄP(Ѡ) KΛAY KAICAP. Two oblong shields crossed, two crossed spears behind.
Reverse: Palm tree with dot and star and with L ΙΔ in field under branches either side of tree; BPIT above, K AI either side of tree across bottom.
Issue struck in the name of Nero Claudius Caesar and Britannicus.
 
RPC-4971, Sofaer 59-61. Jerusalem mint, RY 14 = 54 AD. 2,49 g - 17 mm
Volume: RPC I №: 4971
Reign: Claudius Persons: Britannicus (Caesar)
City: Jerusalem  Region: Judaea Province: Judaea
Denomination: Æ Average weight: 2.41 g. Issue: Year 14 (AD 54)
Obverse: ΒΡΙΤ ΚΑΙ, LΙΔ (in field); palm tree
Reverse: ΝƐΡW ΚΛΑΥ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ; two crossed spears and shields
Reference: Meshorer 29 Specimens: 12
Not too much known about Britannicus, son of Claudius. He was named after his Father´s exploits in Britain around 50 AD. The sudden death of Britannicus shortly before his fourteenth birthday is reported by all extant sources as being the result of poisoning on Nero's orders; as Claudius' biological son, he represented a threat to Nero's claim to the throne.

CONSTANTINEI.jpg.3533f0251394bf98aa316646e18f7923.jpg

PERGAMON (Mysia) AE16.
Obverse: Head of Athena right, wearing helmet decorated with 8 pointed star.
Reverse: AΘHNAΣ / NIKHΦOPOY. Owl standing facing on palm frond right, with wings spread. Monograms ΓΑ and ΑΡ either sides of owl in fields.
Wildwinds online “plate” coin
SNG Leipzig 1102-1103. Pergamon mint, ca. 200-133 BC.  2,9 g - 16 mm.

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8aee8fb2a56c4863951049b8c8d7b626.jpg

Cnaeus Pompey Jr - Denarius minted at Corduba ? 46-45 BCE
M [POBLICI LEG] PRO PR, Helmeted head of Rome right
CN MAGNVS IMP, Spain standing right, presenting palm branch to a soldier (Pompey ?) standing left on a prow of galley
3.65 gr
Ref : HCRI # 48, RCV #1384, Cohen #1

Q

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Stratonikeia, Caria

140-80 BC
AR Hemidrachm (13mm 0.90g)
Pamphilos magistrate
O: Laureate head of Hekate right, hair rolled and wearing a cresent moon headband.
R: Nike advancing right, holding palm frond and wreath; ΠAMΦIΛOC (magistrate) above, all within incuse square.
SNG Helsinki 253
ex Tom Vossen

"Lord Helios and the sacred flame,
weapon of Hekate Enodia,
which She bears when leading in Olympos
and in Her haunts by the sacred three-ways on Earth,
crowning Herself with oak leaves
and twisting coils of wild serpents."

~ Sophokles

Tzb87kMkt6jNH52wbaS3gP5pXiZ9y4_3~2.jpg

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Here is a Victorinus antoninianus with a palm branch as a field device to the lower right of Pax. Much like the "V" and star devices, the exact meaning of this device is unknown.

1498,Ancient Cast Bronze Roman Empire Victorinus 265-270 AD Estate Coin #38 a.jpg

Edited by Postvmvs
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  • Benefactor
Posted (edited)

Some assorted palm fronds, branches, and trees, excluding those that are merely parts of a mint mark, or serve as something on which an eagle stands on an Antioch tetradrachm.

Roman Republic, L. [Lucius] Calpurnius Piso Frugi, AR Denarius, 90 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right (control marks H behind and F below) / Rev. Naked horseman galloping right holding palm frond in upraised left hand (control marks G above and H below), L• PISO FRUGI beneath. Crawford 340/1, RSC I Calpurnia 11, Sear RCV I 235/1, BMCRR 1938-2129 [this combination of two-letter control marks is not recorded in BMCRR; cf. BMCRR 2120 (H, F on obv. paired with C, A on rev.)]. 17 mm., 4.02 g.

image.jpeg.9776e16391039ac56359ec74f78ed031.jpeg

Roman Republic, Ti. Claudius Ti.f. Ap.n. Nero [Tiberius Claudius Nero, son of Tiberius and grandson of Appius], AR Serrate Denarius, 78 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust of Diana right with hair in topknot, bow and quiver over shoulder, figure of stag’s head at end of bow (horns to left), S • C [Senatus Consulto] before / Rev. Winged Victory driving galloping biga right, with horses’ heads straining forward, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond and reins in left hand, control number CXXXIIII beneath horses; in exergue, TI•CLAVD•TI•F [VD ligate] / [A]P•N [AP ligate] in two lines. Crawford 383/1, RSC Claudia 5, Sear RCV I 310 (ill.), Sydenham 770, BMCRR 3096-3113 [Control number CXXXIIII not included], Harlan, RRM I Ch. 8, pp. 36-39 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]. 18 mm., 4.01 g., 6 h.* [Footnote omitted.]

image.jpeg.bcc7705c9c60de6beabbdedf581d8f18.jpeg

Augustus AE (Brass or Orichalcum) Dupondius, 9-3 BCE, Colonia Augusta Nemausus [Nîmes] (Gallia Narbonensis province) Mint. Obv. Heads of Agrippa left and Augustus right, back to back, with Agrippa wearing combined laurel wreath and rostral crown, and Augustus wearing oak wreath, IMP above heads and DIVI F below [Imperator Divi Filius] / Rev. Crocodile right standing on two palm branches, chained to palm-shoot standing behind it, with tip of shoot leaning to right; wreath above and to left of palm-shoot, with long ties extending behind shoot to right, COL - NEM to left and right of palm-shoot. “Type III” of Augustus & Agrippa/Crocodile coin (see https://multicollec.net/1-mo-h/1h04).  RIC I 158 (p. 52), RPC I 524 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/search/browse?volume_id=1&number=524), Sear Greek Imperial Coins 157 (D. Sear, Greek Imperial Coins and their Values (1982)], Sear RCV I 1730 (ill.). [See Sear RCV I at p. 337: Commemorates conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE; influenced by Augustus’s settlement of veterans of Egyptian campaign in Nemausus after colony was founded in 27 BCE.] 28 mm., 12.09 g.

 

image.jpeg.48c7f1e37f0e6eabfbed984902d33d9b.jpeg

Plautilla (wife of Caracalla; issued under Septimius Severus & Caracalla), AR Denarius, AD 202-205 [Sear: AD 204], Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust right, hair in nearly vertical waves and drawn into coiled plait at neck, PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA / Rev. Venus Victrix standing half-left, holding apple in outstretched right hand and palm frond in left hand, resting left arm on large oval shield set on ground; to left, Cupid standing left, holding helmet in outstretched left hand, VENVS VICTRIX. RIC IV (Caracalla) 369, RSC III (Plautilla) 25, Sear RCV II 7074 (ill. p. 549), BMCRE V (Septimius Severus & Caracalla) 429 (p. 238).  19 mm., 3.65 g., 5 h. Purchased from CNG (Classical Numismatic Group, LLC) E-Auction 515, May 4, 2022, Lot 589.

image.jpeg.2e1e4c67228dfeeb751978bc82ad2137.jpeg

Elagabalus, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 3 (219/220 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, Α ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΜΑ ΑΥΡ - ΑΝΤѠΝΙΝΟϹ ƐΥϹƐΒ / Rev. Nike advancing right, holding wreath out with right hand and palm branch over left shoulder with left hand, L Γ [Year 3] before her. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. VI, 10053 (temporary); RPC Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/6/10053; Emmett 2939.3 (R2) [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Dattari (Savio) 4122 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; Milne 2776 at p. 69 (wreath-ties “d,” one turned forwards, the other backwards) [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Geissen (Köln) 2320 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; K&G 56.28 [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria  (2008)]. 23 mm., 12.40 g., 12 h. Ex CNG E-Auction 403, Lot 432, Aug 9, 2017 (see https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=34134);  Ex Hermanubis Collection.

image.jpeg.112f543af581e8d147f437f852d27477.jpeg

 

Severus Alexander AE (Orichalcum) Sestertius, AD 232*, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate bust right with slight drapery on left shoulder, IMP SEV ALE – XANDER AVG / Rev. Victory standing right, left foot raised to rest on helmet, inscribing VOT / X in two lines on shield set on trunk of palm tree, VICTORIA AVGVSTI; S – C [Senatus Consulto] across lower fields. 33 mm., 21.95 g. RIC IV-2 616, BMCRE VI 643, Sear RCV III 8021, Cohen 567. Purchased 22 Oct. 2023 from Carthago Numismatics (Kefi Mansouri), L'Isle Adam, Ile de France, France; ex Tunisian hoard.* image.png.7ff90327b3f9622d25191e063c44e455.png

Maximinus I Thrax AR Denarius, 236-238 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind, MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG GERM / Rev. Victory standing front, head to left, holding wreath in her outstretched right hand and palm frond in her left hand in front of her wings; at her feet to left, German captive seated left, head turned back to right, hands probably tied behind his back, VICTO – RIA GERM. 20 mm., 2.54 g., 12 h. RIC IV-2 23; RSC III 107 (ill. p. 154); BMCRE VI 186-187; Sear RCV III 8318 (ill. p. 80). Purchased from Leu Numismatik AG, Winterthur, Switzerland, Web Auction 29, 25 Feb. 2024, Lot 2235; ex Leu Numismatik AG Web Auction 7, 24 Feb. 2019, Lot 1218; from the S. Pozzi Collection [N.B.: not the famous Dr. Samuel Jean Pozzi (1846-1918), but a different person who was still alive in the late 20th Century!]; ex Peter Höfer FPL 9, June 1981, Lot 277.  

image.jpeg.8364ef64552994b8bfe8e556172b395b.jpeg

Valerian I, Billon Antoninianus, AD 255-256 [Sear RCV III p. 269], Antioch Mint [or, “uncertain Syrian mint”; see id.], or Samosata Mint (Göbl) [city on the Euphrates, capital of Commagene, now submerged by Ataturk Dam, Samsat, Sanliurfa, Turkey]. Obv. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG / Rev. Two Victories affixing shield inscribed S•C to palm tree between them, VOTA ORBIS. RIC V.1 294, RSC IV 280 var. [no cuirass on RSC coin], Sear RCV III 9996 (ill. p. 269); Göbl MIR 1682e [R. Göbl et al., Moneta Imperii Romani, Band 35: Die Münzprägung des Kaiser Valerianus I / Gallienus / Saloninus / (253/268), etc. (Vienna, 2000)]. Purchased from Roma Numismatics Ltd., E-Sale 98, 16 Jun 2022, Lot 1411.  

image.png.8c0079665655317246381cbdd086cc95.png

 

Rotterdam, Netherlands, AR William III (& Mary II) of England, Vroedschapspenning (City Council payment Medal or token serving as substitute compensation to Rotterdam City Council members for their attendance at meetings [see Unger article cited in fn], in lieu of attendance fees, as well as to commemorate the April 1689 coronation of William III in England), Sep. 1689, Dordrecht Mint (Designer: Romeyn de Hooghe / Engraver: Daniel Drappentier / Mint Master Mattheus Sonnemans). Obv. In foreground, City Shield of Rotterdam, resting against a palm tree and supported by two lions; on a band beneath, ROTERODAMUM; in background, city view of Rotterdam, with the River Meuse and its shipping in front / Rev. 18 Rotterdam City Council members wearing togas seated at a table, in front of a triumphal arch inscribed PRINCIPI PATRIAE QUE S. C. [To the Prince and our country, by order of the senate], and decorated above in tympanum with a crowned bust of William III, facing with head turned slightly to right, within wreath flanked by arms to left and articles of trade and administration to right; in foreground to left, the city’s statue of Erasmus; in exergue, 1689. 30 x 31 mm., 9.72 g. MI i, pp. 678-679 no. 55, ill. Pl. LXXIII no. 6 [Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. I (1885, reprinted by Spink 1969; Plate volume 1911, reprinted by Spink 1979)]; Michael Mitchiner, Jetons, Medalets & Tokens Vol. II, The Low Countries and France 2658 p. 849 (ill. same) (London 1991);  Gerard Van Loon, Beschryving Der Nederlandsche Historipenningen, etc. [Description of the Dutch Historical Medals], Vol. III p. 420 (1728) (ill. at same page) (available at https://www.google.com/books/edition/Beschryving_der_Nederlandsche_Historipen/A5FMAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover ). Purchased 30 Jan 2024 from Daniel Zufahl Münzen & Medaillen Numis Matic, Munich, Germany.* [Footnote omitted.]

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France, Directorate, AE Conquest of Upper Egypt, An 7 (1798), Napoleon Bonaparte as Général de l'armée d'Orient (struck 1806  after Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor*), Paris Mint. Artist: André Galle, under director Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon. Obv. Bust of Memnon (after the “Colossi of Memnon” in Luxor [ancient Thebes] in Upper Egypt, which actually depict Pharaoh Amenhotep III) or Isis** left, wearing wearing nemes [royal striped headdress] with uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] at forehead, no beard, CONQUÊTE DE LA - HAUTE EGYPTE. around from 7:00, GALLE F. [fecit] beneath truncation, AN VII. below bust / Rev. Crocodile left chained to palm tree behind with wide spreading branches,*** GALLE on ground line to right; in exergue, DENON DIREXIT. 35 mm., 20.89 g., 12 h. Laskey IX at p. 18 [Capt. J.C. Laskey, A Description of the Series of Medals Struck at the National Medal Mint by Order of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1818)]; Millin & Millingen 19 at p. 9 [Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison & James Millingen, Medallic History of Napoleon (London 1819)]; Scargill 4 at p. 7 [Ann Mudie Scargill, Medallic History of Napoleon Bonaparte (London 1820)]; Hennin 896 at p. 688 [Michel Hennin, Histoire numismatique de la révolution française . . . depuis l'ouverture des Etats-généraux jusqu'à l'établissement du gouvernement consulaire (Paris 1826)]; Julius 694 at p. 43 [Sammlung Dr. [Paul] Julius, Heidelberg: Französische Revolution Napoleon I. und seine Zeit : Medaillen, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, Münzen (Auktion 11 Jan. 1932, Otto Helbing Nachf., München, Auktions-Katalog 66) (available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/auctionlots?AucCoId=514029&AuctionId=534684] [see David Block, “Books about Napoleonic Medals,” Numismatics International Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 12 (1985), pp. 365-368 at p. 368, available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/522907?page=21: “This sale did not take place; the Julius Collection was not sold until 1959”).**** Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics.

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*See Richard A. Todd, Napoleon’s Medals: Victory to the Arts (The History Press, UK, 2009) at p. 22, pointing out that “[t]hough dated 1798, the medal was not struck until 1806.” (And could not possibly have been struck contemporaneously, given the presence of the DENON DIREXIT legend: Denon was appointed Director of the Mint only in September of 1803; see id. p. 15.) As the author further explains at pp. 78-79 of his book, the Egyptian Campaign “produced no immediate medallions except in England. Bonaparte was completely cut off from his European base. The English, on the other hand, had both the means and the incentive to produce a number of medals celebrating their victory. It is surprising that even after Bonaparte’s return to France and consolidation of power as first Consul, and given his enthusiasm for what he regarded as the great achievement of his Egyptian conquests, the Egyptian medals were so long in coming. Of course the recovery of northern Italy was Bonaparte’s first concern, and then there were the medals to celebrate the victory at Marengo. The delay in producing the Egyptian medals was not due to lack of interest on Napoleon’s part, however. [Citing his letter dated 6 September 1800 ordering six medals for the Egyptian campaign, including one for the conquest of Upper Egypt, and another letter dated 9 Jan. 1801 asking for a report on the medals that had been requested.] The three Egyptian medals eventually produced were the Conquest of Upper Egypt (1806), the Conquest of Egypt (1808), and the Conquest of Lower Egypt (1810)” (with a reverse showing the Pyramids).

See also the chapter by the late David Block (1926-2002) entitled “The Egyptian Campaign,” in his now-defunct online “Medallic History of Napoleon” (still available on the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20120204070433/http://fortiter.napoleonicmedals.org/medals/index.html), explaining that the Napoleonic medals on the subject of Egypt were “not designed and struck until a few years after that campaign, when the medal mint was reestablished and Vivant Denon was appointed its director. A law had been created in France under the monarchy that made medal-making a state monopoly. Individuals could prepare dies but the striking had to be done at a government mint. This law, in abeyance during the revolution, was enforced again when Napoleon was ruling France.”

**The substantial majority of catalogs and auction house descriptions (except for Block and Todd, cited at the end of this footnote) identify the bust on the obverse as that of Isis. However, the Laskey book – the very first catalog of Napoleonic medals, published in 1818, supposedly based on “the French Medal Mint List” (see Block, op. cit. at p. 365) – identifies the bust as “Memnon.” Compare Laskey p. 18 (“a
bust of the antique statue of Memnon. On the top of the head lies a snake uncoiled, erecting his head in the front”) with Millin & Millingen p. 9 (“Head of Isis”); Scargill p. 7 (“on one side, the head of Isis, an Eyptian divinity of the earliest worship in that country, and whose origin is lost in the mist of ages”); Julius (Otto Helbing Nachf.) p. 43 (“Isiskopf links”). Hennin does not appear to identify the obverse bust. All four auction descriptions found for this medal type on ACSearch also identify the obverse bust as Isis, albeit without citation or explanation. In fact, not one of the sources identifying the obverse bust with Isis attempts to explain the basis for that identification, except for the fact that previous sources did so back to Millin & Millingen in 1819.

I would argue that there is no reasonable basis for identifying the obverse bust on this medal as Isis, who had no particular association with Upper Egypt (to the contrary, her worship spread from the Delta in Lower Egypt), and who was certainly not usually portrayed wearing the headdress of a pharaoh or male deity, i.e., the nemes with uraeus. Not to mention that there is nothing feminine about the face of the figure portrayed, even though it is admittedly beardless, and French coins and medals of the 18th and 19th centuries were hardly known for being ambiguous in portraying female figures.

By contrast, there is every reason to identify the obverse bust with “Memnon,” specifically, as Laskey recognized, with a famous statue (one of the “Colossi of Memnon”) that was still generally thought at the time to represent Memnon (based on the Greek and Roman identification of the statue as such), and was directly associated with its location in Thebes in Upper Egypt. See the Wikipedia article on the Colossi of Memnon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossi_of_Memnon), explaining that the “Colossi,” although actually constructed in the 14th century BCE to represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and stand guard at his mortuary temple, were commonly identified since Greek and Roman times with Memnon: “Memnon was a hero of the Trojan War, a King of Ethiopia who led his armies from Africa into Asia Minor to help defend the beleaguered city but was ultimately slain by Achilles. Memnon (whose name means the Steadfast or Resolute was said to be the son of Eos, the goddess of dawn]. He was associated with [the colossi] . . . because of the reported cry at dawn of the northern statue . . ., which became known as the Colossus of Memnon.”

I believe that it is unlikely to be a coincidence that the engravings that one of the artists accompanying Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition in 1798 did of one of the Colossi of Memnon as it would look if “reconstructed” so strongly resemble the obverse figure on this medal. See the right-hand figure in this detail, showing the statue’s left profile:


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See https://www.paralosgallery.com/stock_detail.php?stockid=1976, reproducing the complete engraving (Vol. II Pl. 21) and describing it as follows:

“Charles Louis Fleury Panckoucke, Details of the Southern Colossos of Memnon, Thebes. ‘Details de Colosse du Sud,_Thèbes, Memnonium.’ Paris Impremerie de C.L.F.Pancoucke 1820-1829. Copper engraving showing one of the Colossi of Mnemnon, Thebes from the second volume of the "Antiquities "of the "Description de l'Egypte," 2nd Edition; black & white; verso blank. . . .

The image shows the statue from three sides, and in a reconstructed condition. The statue depicts Amenhotep III (fl. 14th century BC) in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards towards the river. . . .

‘Description de l'Egypte, ou, Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'armée française.’

When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country's archeology, topography, and natural history. For four years more than 150 artists, engineers, linguists, and scientists traveled throughout the country, examining almost every aspect of ancient and contemporary Egypt. They recorded and measured in meticulous detail Egypt's topography, flora and fauna, and its ancient and contemporary architecture. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. . . .

In 1802 Napoleon authorized the publication of the commission's findings in a monumental, multi-volume work that included plates, maps, scholarly essays, and a detailed index. Publication of the original Imperial edition began in 1809 and continued to 1822, sold by subscription.

It proved so popular that a second edition was published under the post-Napoleonic Bourbon Restoration. The ‘Royal edition’ published in Paris by C.L.F. Panckoucke from 1820-1830.”

It seems entirely possible that the designers of this medal had access to engravings or prints of the Colossi of Memnon similar or identical to those published a few years later in the first edition of the Napoleonic commission’s findings. As Laskey may have had when he wrote his book published in 1818, identifying the obverse figure with the statue of Memnon.  Indeed, Baron Denon, who was the Director of the Mint when this medal was issued and was named on the medal ("DENON DIREXIT"), was himself one of the scholars, artists, and scientists who accompanied Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt (see Todd p. 34).

The absence of a false beard from the medal, by contrast to the engraving, is not enough to dilute the resemblance, or to support an identification with Isis absent any other basis for such an identification that I know of. Especially given that the very next engraving of one of the Colossi in the publication of Napoleon’s expedition, this one in right profile (Thèbes. Memnonium. / Détails de la Statue Colossalle de Memnon. A(ntiquités). Vol. II. Pl. 22), shows no beard:

upload_2022-4-21_22-14-3.jpeg

See https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30861960269&cm_mmc=ggl-_-COM_Shopp_Rare-_-product_id=bi: 30861960269-_-keyword=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwgYSTBhDKARIsAB8KukvMJQYAViDHKiBdxes5-L_iqTzC86tAQMKvdX4jtgNmdWcKCr8VcuAaAuFgEALw_wcB (“Original uncoloured copper engraving (plate mark 45 x 62 cm, overall sheet size 53.5 x 69.5 cm) by Cain after the drawing by Jollois and Devilliers from volume 2 of the Description de l'Égypte (2nd edition). . . . The Description de l'Égypte was the first scientific survey of all Egypt, from its antiquities to its agriculture including language, music, costume, and natural history, and it concludes with a detailed and accurate map of the region. The numerous plates depicting the antiquities provide a comprehensive record of the richness of ancient Egyptian culture. At the time of publication, the Description de l'Égypte was the largest printed work ever produced.”)

Finally, although auction houses and dealers have continued almost uniformly to identify the obverse bust as Isis, at least two authorities in this century have rejected that identification (although neither specifically identified the bust as Memnon/Amenhotep III). First, the late David Block, a well-known collector of Napoleonic medals who used the name “fortiter” on his now-defunct website (still accessible on the Internet Archive at the link cited above), described the obverse as follows: “The head of an Egyptian pharaoh, facing left. (In all the older books this is called Isis, but in Egyptian iconography Isis wears cow's horns and a lunar disc on her head, while here we see the uraeus crown of upper Egypt.)” Second, at p. 79 of his 2009 book Napoleon’s Medals, Richard A. Todd states that “[t]he medal for the conquest of Upper Egypt has the head of a Pharaoh, for years misidentified as Isis.”


***Although none of the auction descriptions of this medal found on ACSearch make note of the resemblance, it has long been generally accepted that the reverse design was modeled on the chained crocodile depicted on the reverse of the “COL NEM” dupondius of Augustus and Agrippa (RIC I 158). See Millin & Millingen at p. 9 (“type copied from the ancient coins of Nismes, with the heads of Augustus and Agrippa”); Scargill at p. 7 (“This type is imitated from a medal struck at Nismes, when the Roman Legions, came to occupy that province after the conquest of Egypt.”)

**** N.B. This medal is not in Bramsen [Ludvig Ernst Bramsen, Médaillier Napoléon le Grandou, Description des médailles, clichés, repoussés, et médailles-décorations relatives aux affaires de la France pendant le consulat et l'empire, Vols I-III (Copenhagen 1904-1913), available at Newman Numismatic Portal], which begins its coverage in 1799 with the fall of the Directory and the beginning of the Consulate, i.e., immediately after Hennin's coverage ends.

Edited by DonnaML
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Very detailed and solid work Donna and exceptionally well referenced. You should be in the Academy. For me, I got tired of footnotes when I completed my dissertation back in 2000. Since I didn't end up in academia as I once had planned it's nice to see someone else carrying the torch high. 

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On 3/25/2024 at 12:25 PM, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

Very detailed and solid work Donna and exceptionally well referenced. You should be in the Academy. For me, I got tired of footnotes when I completed my dissertation back in 2000. Since I didn't end up in academia as I once had planned it's nice to see someone else carrying the torch high. 

Thanks, @Ancient Coin Hunter. I'm afraid that my son (a PhD candidate in Art History up in Toronto; his field of specialization is Modern Photography) is the only academic -- assuming he finds a job when he's done, if he doesn't already qualify! -- in my family.  After all, my parents were the first generation on either side of my family ever to go past high school, with my father ending up as a lawyer and my mother a teacher. (Despite graduating from law school in the same law school class as my father -- which is how they met -- she never practiced law.) To be sure, my 11th-great-grandfather on my mother's side, Joseph d'Alschwyl (b. ca. 1540, d. Allschwil nr. Basel, Switzerland, 1610) was a physician who was, unusually for a Jew in the 16th century, permitted to practice medicine in Basel, but there's no evidence that he attended any university.

As for me, when I was in college I seriously considered going to graduate school in European/ancient history or something like Egyptology or Assyriology, but ended up chickening out and taking what seemed like the easier path of following in my parents' footsteps by attending law school.  Partly because in the late 70s when I was in college, everybody warned me how terrible the job market was for newly minted PhD's, partly because I was intimidated by how brilliant my classmates headed towards academia seemed to be compared to me, and partly because I wasn't enthusiastic about the hard work it would take to learn the necessary additional languages, given that French was the only foreign language I had studied. In retrospect, I wish I had made a different decision. Which is why I always emphasized to my son that he should do something for a living that he enjoyed and made him happy. So at most I've been an academic manqué, with my unfulfilled inclinations in that direction satisfied, at least in part, by numismatic research and, even more so and for far longer, genealogical and historical research about my own family as well as for other people.

Edited by DonnaML
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