Weekly Highlights

Roman Coins

Do you remember how you started collecting coins? Although I started out like many kids, collecting coins from pocket change, I first discovered ancient Roman coins in 1997 when I was 29 years old and on vacation in Italy with my mom and sister. While in Rome, I stopped in Roma Numismatica and was stunned to learn you could own ancient coins. I bought my first Roman coin, an antoninianus of Gordian III with Sol on the reverse, for $44.44. I still have the coin to this day and likely always will. That Roman coin led me on a journey to find out all about ancient coins when I returned to the States and only two years, and thousands of coins later, I ended up starting Beast Coins in 1999. After development and beta testing with Bill Puetz for two years, the new VCoins.com was ready to debut in...

Experiments In Greek Minting Technique

Ancient coins. The following is a scan of the article by D. G. Sellwood in the 1963 edition of The Numismatic Chronicle. The two sample coins and publication were sold on VAuctions in September, 2016: http://www.vauctions.com/ViewArchiveItem.asp?id=32953 Lot 698.  [Miscellaneous]. Lot of two modern trial strikes by David Sellwood using experimental minting techniques. Includes: AR ‘tetradrachm’. Grape bunch / Side view of triple-crested Corinthian helmet right within incuse square // AR ‘tetradrachm’. Crested Corinthian helmet left / Grain ear within pelleted border. For both coins, see D. G. Sellwood, “Some experiments in Greek minting technique,” NC (1963), pp. 217-31, and pl. XXIV, nos. 8 & 11 for the dies used to strike the second coin. Both coin...

Earliest Coinage

The practice of using coins as a medium of trade began during the Iron Age in the 7th and 6th Centuries BC, in Greece, Anatolia, India and China. Coins proved to be an efficient vehicle of exchange not only locally, but between different areas, since the coins were small and contained intrinsic value due to their composition of silver and gold. Trade obviously existed for millennia before the practice of stamping an image on a piece of metal, but once the concept of the Lydians began to spread, coins began being used extensively throughout Europe and Asia and their weight and denominations developed into standardized systems. This was originated in Ancient coins. The Lydians are credited with the earliest coins, which were minted on round to oblong forms of electrum – a naturally occ...

Coin Hoards

With all of the attention over the past number of years with provenance on coins to curtail illegal digging and trafficking, along with issues of importing, dealers are trying harder to add as much as they can about a coin’s history of ownership. One of the best and most interesting pieces of provenance is when a coin comes to market that is part of a documented hoard. Not only do you get to own a piece of history with Coin Hoards, you also get to know exactly where it was found after being hidden for centuries. The documentation of a hoard can sometimes lead to a better understanding of rarities of a given type or ruler and can be used as a reference, such as the Reka-Devnia Hoard found in Bulgaria in 1929. It consisted of 81,044 Roman denarii, spanning from 64 to 238 AD. More recen...

Judaean Coinage

Judaean Coinage (Jewish coins) The region of ancient Judaea was witness to many different rulers over the centuries, at times being brought under control at great expense. Originally part of the Kingdom of Israel from 11th Century BC to 930 BC, the timeline of the rule of Judaea looks like this: 930 BC to 586 BC – Kingdom of Judah 586 BC to 539 BC – Babylonian Empire 539 BC to 332 BC – Persian Empire 332 BC to 305 BC – Macedonian Kingdom 305 BC to 198 BC – Ptolemaic Kingdom 198 BC to 141 BC – Seleukid Kingdom 141 BC to 63 BC – Hasmonean Kingdom 63 BC to 37 BC – Hasmonean Kingdom as client state of Rome 37 BC to 132 AD – Herodian Kingdom as client state of Rome 132 AD to 135 AD – Bar Kokhba Revolt 135 AD – Merged with Roman p...

Q Pomponius Musa

Quintus Pomponius Musa was a moneyer for the Roman Republic during 56 BC. According to H. A. Seaby, in “Roman Silver Coins”: “The representation of Hercules Musagetes and of the nine Muses on his coins are intended as a reference to the cognomen of the moneyer. We probably have a representation in detail of the statues in the temple in the Circus Flaminius built in their honour by M. Fulvius Nobilitor. Hercules, as leader of the choir, is represented playing on his lyre and the Muses are shown with their various attributes.” The Muses are the daughters of Zeus, King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the Titan of memory. A daughter was born each of the nine nights they spent together. The muses and their attributes are portrayed on the series of coins as such: Calliope, the...

Roman Denominations

The Roman Empire came to be from the ashes of the Roman Republic and Imperatorial periods, and once established by Augustus in 27BC, the foundation for the expanded monetary system began and would continue until its overhaul by Diocletian. The base unit of the empire was the copper as, and the system was designed mainly in fractions or multiples of four. The largest regular base-metal coin was the sestertius, valued at four asses, and was made of orichalcum or bronze. The denarius was the silver workhorse and valued at 16 asses. Higher up the chart we find the gold aureus, valued at 25 denarii. In-between and below these denominations we find the quinarius (12-1/2 denarii for gold version and eight asses for the silver module), double-sestertius (eight asses), dupondius (two asses), semis ...

One From Every Country (OFEC) – World Coins

One of the popular themes for collecting coins is “One From Every Country” or OFEC. Not only can this a challenging theme, it’s a great way to learn about history and the world, along with being a perfect introduction to collecting in general since it is easy to start and inexpensive, depending on how complex and thorough you decide to make your quest. It’s a category within World Coins. At first, you could decide to collect one coin from each country that currently exists. Or, one from each country that existed during the year of your birth and dated from that year. The topic begins to get complicated when you start to consider every “country” that ever existed. Sometimes that isn’t always clear. Or, it can be even more complicated if one consider...

Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian Empire began after the fall of the Parthian Empire and existed from 224 AD under Ardashir I, to 651 AD under Yazdgard III. It was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam. The power and extent of the Sassanian kings grew so great, King Shapur I captured the Roman Emperor Valerian I in 260 at the Battle of Edessa and used the emperor as a footstool when mounting his horse. There are various accounts of what happened to Valerian after his capture, but the Sasanians would have their advancement into Roman territory halted by forces at Palmyra. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire controlled nearly all of the modern Middle East, along with a great part of Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, parts of North Africa and the Levant. Their success branched off to othe...

Papal Coinage

The earliest known Papal coinage began under Pope Saint Gregory III (731-741 AD), however, the first serious Papal coinage began under Pope Adrian I (772-795) at the mint in Rome and continued through Pope Benedict VII (974-983). From the reign of Pope John XIV (983-984) to Pope Clement IV (1265-1268), no known papal issues exist. This is due to the Roman Senate taking over control of the mint output and issuing anonymous coinage. Papal coinage was restored in 1268, but it was a period of Sede Vacante (no pope) until 1271 and coins were issued as such. Even after Pope Gregory X was named in 1271, no Papal coinage is known again until Pope Boniface VIII (1296-1303) and continues yet today. Along with the fascinating and artistic Papal coins, there are also the coins of the intriguing antipo...

Olympic Games and Olympic coins

Right now, the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, or more commonly known as the 2016 Summer Olympics, are happening in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Ancient Greece actually started the Olympics in 776 BC and they continued until the 4th Century AD. The modern Olympics started in 1859, after the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, and officially began after the creation of the International Olympic Committee and the Games in 1896. The summer and winter games occur every four years, two years apart from each other, as of 1992. A great coin collecting category is Olympic coins. The ancient games were played at the Sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, Elis every four years and legend has it that during the games, none of the participating city-states were allowed to engage in conflict. Ancient game...

Roman Provinces

The Roman Empire was sprawling and massive as they assimilated regions they conquered and mostly kept the population and cultures intact to a degree. In order to keep all of the provinces running smoothly, local mints were established to produce (mostly) base-metal coins. Over the course of the empire, more than 600 provincial mints provided the means for those not living in the large cities to conduct trade, while showcasing important themes, buildings or religious icons. Some large provincial mints, such as Tyre in Phoenicia, were allowed to strike silver coins. But mostly the provincial cities and towns featured their flavor on copper and bronze. This is the Roman Provincial Coinage. Interestingly, some Roman provincial issues are the only way to collect some of the family members, such...

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