(Images Public Domain ex-wikipedia)
Last week I shared a coin from Brutus, that celebrated his family history of tyrannicide, in this thread. This week, a much humbler coin, linked in time to an equally compelling story (and to Julius Caesar). This coin is an anonymous denarius which also has variants that are signed by Gargonius, Ogulnius and Vergilius.
This relatively affordable, and common coin, is easily ignored or dismissed. To me it is always surprising how readily available a 2000+ year old coin can be from Rome from a storied time of social unrest and civil war, linked to Marius, Sulla, Cinna, the young Julius Caesar, and others.
Dear Friends of ancient mythology!
Today I want to talk about Janus, the God with two faces. I have gathered here everything I know to the best of my knowledge and conscience.
The double head of Janus is well known for numismatists and coin collectors from the Republican asses.
Roman Republic, A. Caecilius, gens Caecilia
AE - As, 22.99g, 33mm
Rome, 169-158 BC
Obv.: Double head of bearded Janus, laureate, above I (value mark)
Rev.: Prora r.
above A.CAE (AE ligate), before I (value mark), below ROMA
Ref.: Crawford 147/1; Sydenham 355; BMC 8112; Caecilia 8; Albert 653
bought at Kricheldorf/Stuttgart, before 1970
According to some numismatists the prora should be an allusion to Janus' journey from Greece over the sea to Rome.
The 2nd coin shows the uncommon depiction of Janus as frontal standing deity. Please, look at the next note.
Geta, AD 209-211
AR - denarius, 19.8mm, 3.02g, 0°...
In the year 200 or so the emperor Septimius Severus completed his second trip to the east. His campaign had been against the Parthian Empire, reportedly in retaliation for the support it had given to Pescennius Niger. Septimius' legions sacked the Parthian royal city of Ctesiphon and the northern half of Mesopotamia was annexed to the empire. Right around the same time, for reasons which can only be guessed at, the Rome mint ceased striking bronze coins, in all varieties - sestertius, as and dupondius. This followed a trend that had been going on for a few years with each year progressively less coins were struck in bronze. (Curtis Clay has an article that discusses this on the Forum coin site). By the year 200 AD, such a small number of bronzes were being struck that the conclusion is that those that were struck were presentation pieces given out on special occasions - no doubt to the delight of those who received the coins, along with, a couple of...
I have a fairly large collection of 1860 and 1864 Lincoln campaign tokens. My favorite pieces for all the candidates are those tokens that have slogans that covered the major issues. Here are a couple tokens that mention three of Lincoln’s talking points.
The first piece has the same obverse as the white metal token I posted a couple of days ago, with Lincoln’s first name printed as “Abram.” The reverse of this piece hits on two issues.
The slogan around the edge, “Free territory for a free people,” refers to the homestead act proposal and Lincoln’s opposition to slavery. The Homestead Act was passed during Lincoln’s first term in 1862. It provided that settlers could gain a clear title to 160 acres of public land after they paid and small fee and maintained continuous residency on it for five years. Slave owners generally opposed this act because it encouraged settlement by farmers who did not own any slaves. Historians...
The “campgate” reverse type is one of the most affordable ancient coins showing an architectural scene that you can get. They are common enough that many people specialize in them and find interesting meaning in all kinds of minute details. I don’t pretend to be an expert on campgates but I have always liked the type. I recently picked up a very nice example of Constantius II as Caesar with a provenance to the Zachary “Beast” Beasley Collection of Camp Gates.
Constantius II as Caesar
BI Follis, Arelatum Mint (Arles), 4th officina, struck AD 328
Dia.: 19.9 mm
Wt.: 3.2 g
Obv.: FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C; Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: VIRTVS CAESS; Campgate with 4 turrets, star above, gates open, each door with two panels, each panel ornamented with two dots; S – F flanking sides; QCONST in exergue.
Ref.: RIC VII Arles 323...
Many numismatic writers have labeled the Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints as "twins" because the facilities had so much in common. For example, both mints were established for the same purpose, to convert the bullion taken from the southern gold fields into United States coins. Both mints were built from the same plans drawn up by architect, William Strickland. They shared the same dates of operation from 1838 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. Each mint had similar mintages during that 24 year period, and both mints faced similar technical problems which gave their products distinctive appearances that set them apart from their Philadelphia Mint counterparts. Finally coin collectors regard the surviving examples of the Charlotte and Dahlonega Mint products as rare and exotic collectors' items. There is a romantic aura around them which often draws attention, even from those who do not specialize in southern gold.
In contrast, the two mints had a number of differences....
I am a type collector, and one of the "sleepers" in the U.S. gold type set is the Type II Liberty double eagle (1866 - 75). This coin has the motto, "In God we trust," on the reverse, but the value is defined as "TWENTY D." instead of "TWENTY DOLLARS" as it is on the Type III Liberty Double Eagle.
This type is not rare or scarce overall, but it is hard to find in strict Mint State. The coins were too valuable to pull from circulation and put in a collection "back in the day," and none of them have been recovered from shipwrecks like the SS Central America.
Here is the coin in my collection, an 1873, Open 3 Double Eagle. This piece is graded PCGS MS-63 and for that reason I paid a strong price for it at auction. Another, almost identical piece in the same auction sold for similar money. A few years ago, any Mint State grade higher than MS-63 was very hard to find and MS-65 graded pieces were virtually impossible.
While obvious to the seasoned folks, I felt it might be a good topic to touch on.
It’s easy to see the difference between an MS67 and MS61 Morgan, but once we depart from the high end, the severity of marks and surface quality continue to separate the choice coins from the average.
It’s easy to think of a Fine-12 and imagine a somewhat dinged up coin with decent surfaces that still retains enough design detail for a Fine grade. There are lots of coins that fall into that category that warrant their straight grade as they haven’t been harshly cleaned and aren’t environmentally or otherwise damaged beyond what is (by most) accepted as the threshold for these imperfections.
With a discerning eye though, we can aim to select lower grade coins that have the wear to warrant that grade but survived their lifetime of circulation and subsequent downtime more gracefully than a lot of their peers.
This 1821 Bust quarter is a recent purchase that illustrates this concept perfectly in my...
One of the great disappointments for the citizens of Dahlonega was that none of the local people were ever able to land one of the high paying positions at the mint. "Foreigners," as they put it, always ended up with the plum appointments, like Mint superintendent, assayer, coiner or clerk, who was the superintendent's assistant. The local citizens were lucky if they were hired as handymen. The superintendent's job, which paid $2,000 a year, was particularly vulnerable to local agitation and criticism because, unlike the assayer and coiner, it seemed to the citizens of Dahlonega that no specialized qualifications were required.
The first superintendent was Joseph Singleton. Singleton was not a strong manager, and the people who worked under him showed him little respect. In addition there were long delays in converting bullion to coins, which angered those who deposited gold at the mint for coinage. A good part of the blame for the long delays went to assayer Joseph Farnum, who...
I write these articles for my local club. Once they are done, there not much to do with them other than sit on my computer. Maybe you will enjoy some of them so here goes. This is the first part of a history of the Dahlonega Mint.
In 1828 Benjamin Parks stepped on a yellow rock in the woods in the vicinity of Dahlonega, Georgia. Parks quickly deduced that piece was large gold nugget, but he couldn't keep his discovery secret for long. Before the end of the decade 15,000 people invaded the area which became the site of America’s first gold rush. Nine out of ten of these prospectors would never "strike it rich," but they did create a colorful chapter in American history.
Most of these men and women were a rough and tumble, hard drinking lot. They founded towns like Nuckollsville which was named after the owner of a hotel and tavern in the area. Some people thought that "Knucklesville" would have been more appropriate because of...
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