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Eclipse Day Coin

David Atherton

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In honour of the Great American Eclipse happening in just a few hours, I thought it would be appropriate to post a somewhat relevant coin.

Pliny the Elder in his Natural Histories tells of an eclipse occurring in 71 during Vespasian reign... 'The eclipse of both sun and moon within 15 days of each other has occurred even in our time, in the year of the third consulship of the elder Emperor Vespasian and the second consulship of the younger.'

This was a partial solar eclipse on 20 March 71 AD.



And here is a coin likely struck within a few weeks of the event. It depicts Fortuna the goddess of luck on the reverse, with the cloud cover over the NE US and Canada I think she is quite appropriate!


Æ Sestertius, 26.66g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: FORTVNAE REDVCI; S C in exergue; Fortuna stg. l., with branch and rudder on globe, and cornucopiae
RIC 157 (C). BMC 756. BNC 482.
Acquired from CGB, March 2023.


I'll be heading up to my parents about an hour north of me in the path of totality in northern OH. Hopefully the clouds will break or thin enough at eclipse time!

Feel free to post any relevant coins!



Edited by David Atherton
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From where we live it's a 3-4 hour drive southeast. We will be leaving shortly. Safe travels everyone!


AR Denarius (19.05mm, 3.59g, 12h)
Struck AD 73. Rome mint
Obverse: IMP CAES VESP AVG CEN, laureate head of Vespasian right
Reverse: SALVS AVG, Salus seated left, holding patera in extended right hand and resting left hand at side
References: RIC II 513, RCV 2307 var. (obv. leg.)
Lightly toned. A well-struck specimen of good weight, with a fine portrait and underlying luster. Formerly in NGC holder (2119234-002), graded Ch VF.

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We had a total sun eclipse in 1999 here. For this event, national bank of Romania issued the first polymer banknote in the world. 

2000 lei - an 1999 - Eclipsa de soare | Numismatic


Here are my 2 coins from 71 AD


23 mm, 11,02 g.
Vespasian 69-79. Æ as. Rome. 71 AD.
IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG COS III, head of Vespasian, laureate, right / AEQVITAS AVGVSTI S C, Aequitas, draped. standing left, holding scales in right hand and long vertical rod in left.
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Vespasian 287.


17,2 mm, 3,38 g.
Vespasian 69-79. AR denarius. Rome. July-December 71.
IMP CAES VESP AVG P M, head of Vespasian, laureate, right / AVGVR TRI POT, Simpulum, sprinkler, jug and lituus.
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Vespasian 4; old RIC II Vespasian 30; RSC 43; BMC 50.

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A lovely and relevant coin, @David Atherton.  I will add a few more coins that connect (at least loosely) to eclipses.

In Book 2 Chapter 30 of Natural History, Pliny the elder writes of "Unusually Long Eclipses of the Sun".


"Eclipses of the sun also take place which are portentous and unusually long, such as occurred when Cæsar the Dictator was slain, and in the war against Antony, the sun remained dim for almost a whole year."

-Pliny, Natural History, 2.30

Perhaps more likely this was something other than a solar eclipse that he is describing.  I will add this coin from a year or two after Julius Caesar's assassination from Mark Antony and Lepidus, shortly before they joined forces with Octavian.


Mark Antony and M Aemelius Lepidus, 43 BCE, AR Denarius (3.71g, 18mm)

Mint: Military mint traveling with Antony and Lepidus in Cisalpine Gaul

Date: Crawford dates this issue between 30-May-43 and early 42

Obv: M ANTON [IMP], lituus, capis, and raven

Rev: M LEPID IMP, simpulum, aspergillum, securis, apex

Ref: Crawford 489/2; Sydenham 1156; RSC 2

The death of Augustus again brings mention of an eclipse of the sun:


"Thus, the sun suffered a total eclipse and most of the sky seemed to be on fire; glowing embers appeared to be falling from it and blood-red comets were seen. When a meeting of the senate had been appointed on account of the emperor's illness, in order that they might offer prayers, the senate-house was found closed and an owl sitting on it hooted. 4 A thunderbolt fell upon his statue that stood upon the Capitol and blotted out the first letter of the name "Caesar.""

-Cassius Dio, Roman History, 29.2-4

This also seems a stretch - as the date of the eclipse is calculated as August 17th, AD 10, about 4 years before the death of Augustus.

The Romans had a different understanding of eclipses that we do.  Here Pliny shares some well established science:


"LXIX. Fire even by itself has a curative power. It is well established that epidemics caused by an eclipse of the sun are alleviated in many ways by the lighting of bonfires."

-Pliny, Natural History, 36.69

And the link between earthquakes and eclipses seems credible given the rare New Jersey Earthquake (Whitehouse Station 4.8) last week!



"The severest earthquakes occur in the morning and the evening, but they are frequent near dawn and in the daytime about noon. They also occur at an eclipse of the sun or moon, since then storms are lulled, but particularly when heat follows rain or rain heat."

-Pliny, Natural History, 2.82



Claudius felt the need to explain to all the real reason for eclipses as one was expected on his birthday (and that might not have ended well for him):


"Since there was to be an eclipse of the sun on his birthday, he feared that there might be some disturbance in consequence, inasmuch as some other portents had already occurred; he therefore issued a proclamation in which he stated not only the fact that there was to be an eclipse, and when, and for how long, but also the reasons for which this was bound to happen.  These reasons I will now give. The moon, which revolves in its orbit (or so it is believed), either directly below it or perhaps with Mercury and Venus intervening, has a longitudinal motion, just as the sun has, and a vertical motion, as the other perhaps likewise has, but it has also a latitudinal motion such as the sun never shows under any conditions.  When, therefore, the moon gets in a direct line with the sun over our heads and passes under its blazing orb, it obscures the rays from that body that extend toward the earth. To some of the earth's inhabitants this obscuration lasts for a longer and to others for a shorter time, whereas to still others it does not occur for even the briefest moment.  For since the sun always has a light of its own, it is never deprived of it, and consequently to all those between whom and the sun the moon does not pass, so as to throw a shadow over it, it always appears entire. This, then, is what happens to the sun, and it was made public by Claudius at that time."

-Cassius Dio, Roman History 26.1


Claudius, AD 41-54, Ephesus, AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (26-28mm, 10.72g)

Obv: TI CLAVD CAES AVG, bare head left

Rev: Frontal view of the tetrastyle temple of Diana at Ephesus on a podium of four steps, her cult statue within with fillets hanging from her wrists and a polos on her head; pediment decorated with figures, DIAN-EPHE across fields

Ref: RIC 119; RPC 2222.

My last addition is this coin that seems appropriate for connecting Sun (Apollo Sun God) and Moon (Selene Moon Goddess) on one coin from the time of Domitian, Aegeae, Cilicia:


Roman Provincial, Domitian Æ (6.65g, 23mm, 12h) of Aegeae, Cilicia. Dated CY 135 = 88/9. Herakleon, magistrate.

Obv: Radiate head of Apollo-Phoibos (phoibos meaning shining or bright) with features of Domitian to right; laurel branch in right field

Rev: Draped bust of Artemis-Selene to left, crescent set on forehead, quiver over shoulder; ΑΙΓΕΑΙΩΝ behind, ΗΡΑΚΛΕΩΝΟϹ below, ЄΛΡ (date) in left field

Ref: RPC II 1776A (this coin specimen 3 of 3, additional coin-type added post publication); Haymann 24b.

Edited by Sulla80
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I will take the afternoon off tomorrow for watching it with my family and friends, and here in Montreal it will be the first total eclipse since 1972. If you want to help astronomy and science to progress about the study of the sun, please consider downloading the application SUNSKETCHER on your phone and you could photograph the eclipse wherever you are located. PLEASE do it !



and Sol INVICTVS will be defeated today…


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..no going to Nova Scotia for me....i'll be right about in the center of the total eclipse this round.here in good ole Mo...and i still have my glasses from the partial eclipse in 2017 to reuse today at 1:55...plus Marc Anthony denarius featuring the house of the rising sun   

marc anthony.jpg



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I don't have any coins that I recall are believed to have been influenced by an eclipse (though I have a few from comets). However, we did head out to see the eclipse when it was visible in Oregon several years ago, and I took this photo.


My parents actually live in the path of totality, but the airfares were crazy to head back there. 

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How about a coin featuring Sol? CONSERVAT AVG

Sol in this case is the emperor's protector in this issue of Ticinium, standing rather than appearing as Sol's quadriga (much more common). Hopefully today the rays of Sol's crown will be indeed, radiant, as lady Luna passes in front of his face.



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I hope the weather cooperates with all of you fortunate enough to be in the path of totality today. Having been in Salem Oregon in 2017 I can say it was one of the most moving events of my life! I had friends in Portland tell me "oh we got 80%, it was really cool". No, NOT the same.

So if you have the opportunity go see it. Any inconvenience will fade in a few days, but this is an experience you will never forget. It ain't cgi, it's the real universe putting on one hell of a show!

~ Peter 

Edited by Phil Anthos
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4 hours ago, kirispupis said:

I don't have any coins that I recall are believed to have been influenced by an eclipse (though I have a few from comets). However, we did head out to see the eclipse when it was visible in Oregon several years ago, and I took this photo.


My parents actually live in the path of totality, but the airfares were crazy to head back there. 

that's kool1...imma get one today! 🙂

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Here around Seattle we're only supposed to get 30%, but it's completely cloudy and raining so it doesn't look like we'll get anything.

I had tried to arrange a trip to Mazatlan to see it, but it was not approved. 🙂 However, I wound up doing extremely well in this morning's Roma auction and I picked up both major targets, including a Pri 1 coin that I'll post about when I receive it. That's my second major pickup for this year and leaves only three coins (out of 121) on that list I've yet to acquire.

Overall, it was one of my most successful auctions in terms of winning the main targets I wanted, and most I picked up for well under my max. So, I'm okay with not seeing the eclipse this year.

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Watching it now from the edge of the Hudson in upper Manhattan above the GW Bridge. A nice sunny day. It's more than halfway now, heading towards 90+%. Very enjoyable. I'm using eclipse glasses left over from the one in 2017.

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To @Sulla80's point about Claudius feeling the need to counter the belief that solar eclipses were bad omens --and since people are already giving themselves some (cool) astronomical latitude-- here's an example from the Middle Ages.  The appearance of Halley's Comet, leading up to the Norman Conquest.  Right, the caption can be translated, 'Here they marvel at the star.'

Comet Halley depicted on the Bayeux tapestry


And, welp, here at least are Edward the Confessor and William the (recent) Conqueror.

Edward ‘the Confessor,’ king of England 1042-1066.


AR cut halfpenny of Lincoln or Stamford, ‘Bust Facing /Small Cross’ type, c. 1062-1065.

Obv.  Edward facing, crowned; cruciform arrangement of pellets on the crown extending to the upper part of the outer edge.

(From 1 o’clock:)  +EAD[PARD REX A –or variant]E + (‘EADWARD REX ANGLIE;’ Edward, King of England).

Rev.  Small cross.

[(+?)L]EFPINE OI\[I (Lincoln or Stamford; numerous Old English orthographic variants)]  (‘LE[O]FWINE ON (...Lincoln or Stamford);’ the moneyer Leofwine in Lincoln or Stamford.) 

North 830 (and pp. 184-5, ‘Kings of All England: Mints and Moneyers’), Spink 1183.



Guillaume II, ‘le Batarde’ /William I, ’the Conqueror,’ Duc de Normandie 1035-1087; King of England 1066-1087.

AR cut halfpenny, First Profile type (1066-1067) of Thetford, Norfolk.

Obv.  William facing left, crowned [holding sceptre].
[From lower left:  +PILL]EM./ REXI  (‘WILLEMI REXI;’ of William, the King).
Rev.  Floriate cross. 
[(EAD- /GOD-)P]IIIE ON –D[EOTFOR]  (‘EADWINE /GODWINE ON THEOTFOR;’ the moneyer Eadwine or Godwine, in Thetford).
North 839 (and p. 196, ‘Normans /Mints and Moneyers,’ entry for Thetford), Spink 1250.

Funly, the Old English 'wynn' beginning William's name, along with the initial 'thorn' for Thetford, demonstrate the Norman reliance on the existing Anglo-Saxon minting infrastructure.  The Normans were well advised; the ducal deniers were abysmal even by regional standards.

The initial royal castle at Thetford eventually passed to Roger, the first Bigod earl of Norfolk (c. 1100), who built an impressive motte. 



Edited by JeandAcre
Cleaning up stuff from the original draft that the coins were cribbed from.
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This was my second total solar eclipse and it did not disappoint! I had to drive 6+ hours to evade cloud cover and maximize totality but it was an incredible experience. I should have planned ahead and invested in/learned about astrophotography but instead just took this with my phone with some last minute Pro mode tinkering while totality was nearing:





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Posted (edited)

Here it is at a bit past 50% this afternoon, taken with my phone camera with the lens covered by eclipse glasses:


It may not look like much, but I found the entire process fascinating.

No eclipse coins to show, but here are a couple of coins showing the sun (as a radiate Sol), crescent moon, & stars:

Roman Republic, Mn. Aquillius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 109-108 BCE [Crawford], or 108-107 BCE [Mattingly]. Obv. Radiate head of Sol right; beneath chin, X [old mark of value used here (& on several other issues) despite revaluing of denarius from 10 to 16 asses in 136 BCE] / Rev. Luna in biga of galloping horses right, holding reins in both hands; above horses, crescent moon and three stars; beneath horses, a fourth star; MN • AQVIL [MN ligate] below; in exergue, ROMA. Crawford 303/1; RSC I (Babelon) Aquillia 1 (ill. p. 16); BMCRR II Italy 645 (ill. Pl. xcv no. 11); Sear RCV I 180; Albert 1094 (ill. p. 154) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]; RBW Collection - [not included]; for date of issue, see also Mattingly, Harold B., "The Management of the Roman Republican Mint," p. 258 Table 3, in From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004). 18x19 mm., 3.82 g. Purchased 30 Sep. 2023 from Divus Numismatik (Philipp Krüger), Vienna, Austria; ex Marc Walter, Vienna, Austria; ex Numismatica Tintinna, Scandiano, Emilia Romagna, Italy [I couldn't find auction date online]; ex Mario Ratto, Milan, Italy, Fixed Price List Fall 1995, No. 56 [see Richard Schaefer Roman Republican Die Project at http://numismatics.org/archives/ark:/53695/schaefer.rrdp.processed_300-399#schaefer_clippings_output_303_sd, Col. 3, Row 11].* [Footnote omitted.]


Roman Republic, L. Lucretius Trio*, AR Denarius, 76 or 74 BCE.** Obv. Radiate head of Sol right / Rev. Crescent moon surrounded by seven 8-pointed stars (three above and two on each side); TRIO between horns of crescent***; L• LVCRET[I] below crescent.  Crawford 390/1, RSC I Lucretia 2 (ill.), BMCRR I Rome 3245 (ill. BMCRR III, Pl. XLII No. 11), Sear RCV I 321 (ill.), Sydenham 783, Harlan, RRM 1 Ch. 16 at pp. 98-100 [Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (Vol. I) (2012)]. 18 mm., 3.83 g.**** [Footnotes omitted.]



Edited by DonnaML
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A lunar rather than solar eclipse arguably cost Athens more dearly  than most of her many other aggressions.  In 414, Nicias finally realized the Sicilian Expedition he'd been reluctant to lead was a failure and agreed to leave. A lunar eclipse though unnerved him, so he asked his priests what to do. Wait 27 days, he was told. Syracuse attacked his fleet, destroyed it, and with it the only real escape route which led to a rolling series of further military disasters for the aggressors.

Plutarch -It is said that the Athenians would not believe their loss, in a great degree because of the person who first brought them news of it. For a certain stranger, it seems, coming to Piraeus, and there sitting in a barber's shop, began to talk of what had happened, as if the Athenians already knew all that had passed; which the barber hearing, before he acquainted anybody else, ran as fast as he could up into the city, addressed himself to the Archons, and presently spread it about in the marketplace. On which, there being everywhere, as may be imagined, terror and consternation, the Archons summoned a general assembly, and there brought in the man and questioned him how he came to know. And he, giving no satisfactory account, was taken for a spreader of false intelligence and a disturber of the city, and was, therefore, fastened to the wheel and racked a long time, till other messengers arrived that related the whole disaster particularly. So hardly was Nicias believed to have suffered the calamity which he had often predicted.

A coin likely celebrating the victory -

Evans - Upon the reverse Persephone appears guiding with her left hand the reins of her galloping steeds, and in the other holding aloft a flaming torch in place of the usual goad of the charioteer, while Nike, who flies forward to greet her, holds in her left hand the Αφλαστον, or aplustre, the ornament of the poop of one of the captured vessels. The appearance of the Chthonic Goddess on this piece and the manner in which Nike holds the naval trophy towards the burning torch may, perhaps, suggest a reference to a wholesale devotion of the spoils of war by fire to the deities of the Nether World, to which we find more than one reference in ancient writers.


SICILY. Syracuse. Second Democracy, 466-405 BC. Tetradrachm, obverse die unsigned, but by Euarchidas; reverse die signed by the engraver Phrygillos, circa 415-405. Quadriga galloping to left, driven by a goddess (Persephone?) holding the reins in her left hand and a torch in her right; above, Nike flying right to crown Persephone with a wreath held in her right hand, while holding an aplustre in her left; in the exergue, grain ear to left. Rev. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Arethusa to left, wearing ampyx and sphendone, triple pendant earring and simple necklace; on ampyx signature of engraver, ΦPΥ; before her head, dolphin swimming downward to right; behind her head and under her neck, three dolphins swimming downwards to left.




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It turned out pretty well.  My commute wasn't a nightmare; people were headed north, not south. I enjoyed the wonderful breeze during the eclipse.  I didn't want to endanger my one good eye, so I leaned against a pillar and reordered my playlist.  The part I'll remember was the breeze. If it could be like that all year, I'd be a happy camper.

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Hi All,

Since eclipses concern Helios and Selene (the Sun and Moon), here they are on a Julia Mamea Drachm of Alexandria Egypt. Sold to me as a "19th century imitation of a Matidia Drachm of Egypt or an imitation Paduan Æ."


JULIA MAMEA (223 - MAR 235 CE, Under Severus Alexander)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT Year 10 (230/231 CE)
Æ Drachm
Size: 32 mm
Weight: 21.2 g
Axis: 00:00
Broucheion Collection R-1999-09-14.001

Obv: Julia Mamea bust facing right. Legend: IOYMAMAI[AC]Є[B]MHTCЄB[KCTPA]. Border not visible
Rev: Helios and Selene busts facing right. Helios with radiate
crown and aegis, Selene with crescent moon tiara. Palm frond in right field; in left field: LI. Border not visible.
Refs: Emmett-3248.10 (R5); Milne-3038; Geissen-1880 var: reverse; Dattari-4553? (Bad image); Otherwise unlisted. See Geissen-1880 for similar reverse of Antoninus Pius (Year unreadable).

- Broucheion

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I traveled to Indianapolis for the eclipse. The skies ended up fairly clear, or at least clear enough, to see everything fine. The experience of totality was amazing. I looked up, finally without glasses, and saw the sun's corona, with the moon perfectly overlapping the sun, making what looked like a fiery hole in the sky. It remains a somewhat indescribable experience. This all happened on the track of the Indy 500 speedway. According to one of the racetrack employees, letting the general public onto the track rarely, if ever, happens. So I also saw the bricks at the finish line and found it interesting that many people stooped over to kiss them. One parent told a teenager "just pretend! Just pretend!" but I think some adults were literally joining lips with them. I know nothing about racing, so I'm guess this has some great significance?

All I had along was a cellphone, so I attempted a shot - this was the best I could do:

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It was cloudy here and this was the best shot I could get.



Lunar moon god Mên.


Lydia, Sardes. AE22. Mên Askenos

Obv: MHN ACKHNOC, draped bust of Mên Askenos right, wearing Phrygian cap decorated with stars, crescent behind shoulders.
Rev: CAΡΔIANΩN B NEΩKOΡΩN, cornucopiae and rudder crossed.
198-249 AD.
BMC 95



Pisidia, Pappa-Tiberia. Antoninus Pius AE23

Obv: AVT KAIC AΔP-ANTωNINOC, laureate head of Antoninus Pius right.
Rev: TIBЄPIЄω-N-ΠAΠΠHNωN, Mên standing right, crescent at shoulders, left foot on pinecone, scepter in right hand, pinecone in left.



Phrygia, Hierapolis in alliance with Ephesus. AE22 Pseudo-autonomous. Boule/Men.

Obv: IEPAPOLEITWN K EFECIWN, Veiled bust of Boule r.
Rev: NEWKOPWN OMON(OIA), Men in Phrygian cap standing r., head l., r. foot on bull's skull, holding pine cone and scepter.
BMC 187, pl. 52.5 and SNG Copenhagen 470, but seems to be from new dies on both sides. RPC X, — (unassigned; ID 74738)

Commemorating the harmony with Ephesus in Ionia. Assigned to the time of Valerian/Gallienus.

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