Curtisimo’s 2021 Budget Top 10 ($1 to $100)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Dec 2, 2021.


Which do you think were the best buys? (Pick 3)

  1. $1-$10 – Constantius II Falling Horseman

  2. $11-$20 – Galerius Follis, Genius

  3. $21-$30 – Perge AE, Temple of Artemis

  4. $31-$40 – Etenna AE, Serpent Myth

  5. $41-$50 – Duchy of Athens Denier, Chateau Tournois

  6. $51-$60 – Smyrna AE, the Poet Homer

  7. $61-$70 – Severus Alexander Denarius, Liberalitas

  8. $71-$80 – First Jewish-Roman War Prutah

  9. $81-$90 – Hadrian Travel Series Denarius

  10. $91-$100 – Elagabalus with “Horn” Denarius

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Ancient coin prices on average have increased in 2021 which has caused many collectors (including myself) a good deal of frustration on occasion. However, while reviewing my sub-$100 purchases for this list, I can’t help but conclude that 2021 was one of my best years ever for budget coin purchases. I hope new collectors reading this list will take heart that this can still be an affordable and enjoyable hobby.

    This year I set out with a goal of compiling a list of my 10 favorite coins from under $10 to under $100 (in $10 increments) that would be just as interesting to me as my overall Top 10. I spent a lot of time carefully considering all of my under $100 purchases with this goal in mind. This list will follow the style started by @dougsmit (here) and @zumbly (here) among others of posting favorite budget purchases for the year in $10 increments.

    I previously posted such a list in 2017 and 2019.

    This year I set a few guidelines for myself.
    • All coins on the list would be bought without an intention to “upgrade” them in the future. In other words, all coins were bought as keepers for my core collection.
    • The calculated cost would include all shipping and fees.
    • The coins on the list would have to be interesting in some way beyond the grade or the low cost.
    The total cost of all 10 coins came out to $512.49. That is $51.25 per coin on average.

    Please feel free to vote on which three coins you think were the best buys.

    Category: $1-$10
    An Active Battle Scene
    Roman Empire
    Constantius II
    AE Centenionalis, Heraclea mint, struck ca. AD 350-355
    Dia.: 22.5 mm
    Wt.: 5.3 g
    Obv.: DN CONSTAN-TIVS PF AVG; Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev.: FEL TEMP RE-PARATIO; Γ in left field, SMH (?) in exergue; Helmeted soldier spearing fallen horseman who is reaching back. Hair in braids, no beard. Plain shields.
    Ref.: RIC 82 Heraclea
    Ex Minotaur Coins

    Write up: A Group of Interesting Coins: Roman Edition
    Why I find it interesting: This coin type is common enough that I think it gets taken for granted that the reverse scene is both interesting and artistically ambitious. This coin looks and feels great in hand. The horseman is well detailed and identifiable as beardless with hair in braids reaching back on this example. This is important because the designs seem to have been making reference to individual tribes of Roman enemies in many cases. This is one of only two coins in my entire collection that shows an active battle scene. I consider this a great purchase for under $10!

    Category: $11-$20
    A Nice Galerius Follis with Collection Tag
    Roman Empire
    Galerius as Augustus
    AE Follis, Antioch mint, struck AD 309
    Dia.: 24.7 mm
    Wt.: 6.06 g
    Obv.: IMP C GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG; laureate head right
    Rev.: GENIO IMP-ERATORIS; Genius, nude but for chlamys over left shoulder, standing front, head to left, holding patera from which flows in right hand and cornucopia in left; O over I in right field, ANT in exergue
    Ref.: RIC VI Antioch 112a
    Ex Minotaur Coins. Part of a Swiss collection formed in the 1960s and 70s with tag.

    Collection tag

    Write up: A Group of Interesting Coins: Roman Edition
    Why I find it interesting: Tetrarchy folles are a fun and popular collecting area. Galerius is one of the primary emperors of the first (and second) tetrarchy and I didn’t have an example of him as Augustus. That alone is enough to purchase this coin at under $20 (purchased as part of a group lot). However, the connection to a 1970s or older provenance is a great bonus. I value finding older provenances for humble coins. At some point I hope to be able to identify further the tag (Numiphil Basil?) that came with this coin in order to learn more about its previous owners.

    Category: $21-$30
    An Important Temple to Artemis
    Pamphylia, Perge
    AE16, Perge mint, struck ca. 50-30 BC
    Dia.: 16.6 mm
    Wt.: 3.9 g
    Obv.: Cult statue of Artemis Pergaea facing within distyle temple, facing eagle in pediment
    Rev.: ΑΡΤΕΜΙΔΟΣ ΠΕΡΓΑΙΑΣ, Bow and quiver
    Ref.: SNG France 373-8
    Ex Savoca Coins 111th Blue Auction (August 2021)

    Write up: Cult Statue of Perge: A Fascinating Architecture Type
    Why I find it interesting: This type shows details of a cult-statue to Artemis that was the central object of worship in Perge at least as far back as the Greek-Archaic period and continuing into the Roman period. The remains of the temple itself have never been located so the coins are one of the primary sources for reconstructing what the temple and the cult statue looked like. The statue probably consisted of a meteorite in the shape of Artemis’s face, along with a carved plinth, and other decretive elements. This is all the more fascinating when we compare the coins to later Roman era relief carvings of the cult-statue as I discuss in the above write up. Overall I am always glad to add an architecture type, particularly in this price bracket.


    Category: $31-$40
    A Lost Myth
    PISIDIA, Etenna
    AE19, Etenna mint, struck ca. 1st century BC
    Dia.: 19.3 mm
    Wt.: 3.32 g
    Obv.: Naked nymph/woman standing to front, legs crossed, entwined by serpent; at her feet to left, a vase.
    Rev.: E-T, sickle-shaped knife.
    Ref.: SNG Cop 146
    Ex Minotaur Coins

    Write up: A Group of Interesting Coins: Greek Edition
    Why I find it interesting: The city of Etenna minted coins for centuries that displayed scenes from what was probably a local founding myth. The best guess for reconstructing the story from the coin designs is that the myth involved a young woman or nymph who was attacked by a snake while bathing. It’s possible that the curved blade shown on the reverse of this coin was the weapon that was wielded by a hero who came to the woman’s rescue.

    I like coins that refer to mythological stories and I find this one especially charming due to the unique design and fascinating mystery.

    Category: $41-$50
    A Crusader Coin Inspired by a Roman Temple?
    Crusaders, Duchy of Athens
    Regency of Helena Angelina for Guy II de la Roche (AD 1287-1291)
    BI Denier Tournois, Thebes mint, struck ca. AD 1287-1288(?)
    Dia.: 19 mm
    Wt.: 0.82 g
    Obv.: + ⦂ ThEBE ⦂ CIVIS ⦂ Chateau tournois
    Rev.: + ⦂ G ⦂ DVX ⦂ ATENES ⦂ Cross pattee
    Ref.: Malloy 86, Tzamalis GR105

    Write up: A Group of Interesting Coins: Medieval Edition
    Why I find it interesting: This coin and my above write up recently led to some really interesting discussion in regard to the design and the influences on it. It is possible that the design developed from a Carolingian era temple coin that was abstracted and influenced by the architecture of medieval Tours. This is a Crusader coin from Greece with a fascinating and enigmatic architectural reference… what is not to like here for barely over $40?!

    A Coin Showing the Poet Homer
    Ionia, Smyrna
    Menophilos Krabaus, magistrate.
    Ae Homereium, struck ca. 105-95 BC
    Dia.: 21 mm
    Wt.: 7.05 g
    Obv.: Laureate head of Apollo right
    Homer, holding scroll and resting chin upon hand, seated left on plinth; sceptre behind
    Ref.: Milne 1927, 294
    Ex Plankenhorn Collection of Ionian Coins

    Write up: An Ancient Coin Showing Homer
    Why I find it interesting: It has Homer on it! It was also probably the coin that was directly mentioned in The Geography of Strabo. Speaking of Smyrna he writes;

    “There is also a library; and the Homereium, a quadrangular portico containing a shrine and wooden statue of Homer; for the Smyrnaeans also lay especial claim to the poet; and indeed a bronze coin of theirs is called Homereium.” – Strabo -

    Category: $61-$70
    A Distribution Device for Coins
    Roman Empire
    Severus Alexander
    AR Denarius, Antioch mint, struck AD 223
    Dia.: 18.38 mm
    Wt.: 3.20 g
    Obv.: IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev.: LIBERALITAS AVG, Liberalitas standing left, holding counting board and cornucopia
    Ref.: RIC IV 281 Antioch
    Ex Phil Peck (aka Morris Collection) with collectors envelope, ex private purchase from Herb Kreindler (Jan. 2005)

    Write up: A Beautifully Toned Liberalitas... but What is she Holding?
    Why I find in interesting: This coin shows Liberalitas (the Spirit of Generosity). The type commemorates occasions when the emperor distributed gifts of coins to the people. Shown in the right hand of Liberalitas is a square device with a handle that was used to quickly count and distribute the coins.


    Category: $71-$80
    The First Jewish War
    First Jewish War
    AE Prutah, Jerusalem mint, struck ca. AD 67/8
    Wt.: 2.13 g
    Dia.: 16 mm
    Obv.: Amphora; Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Year Two"
    Rev.: Vine leaf; Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Freedom of Zion"
    Ref.: Hendin 1360
    Ex Tareq Hani Collection

    Write up: A Fascinating Bronze Coin of the First Jewish-Roman War
    Why I find it interesting: This coin was struck in Jerusalem during one of the most famous and pivotal events in history: The revolt that led to the destruction of the Second Temple. The coin proudly references the hope of the Judeans and the purpose of the currency in its Paleo-Hebrew inscription of “for the Freedom of Zion.” When you really stop and think on it the fact that someone can own such a direct link to history for barely over $70 is astonishing. Absolutely astonishing!

    Tower of David, Jerusalem. Place where this coin was most likely minted. (Author's photo)

    Category: $81-$90
    A Travel Series Denarius
    Roman Empire
    Hadrian, AD 117-138.
    AR Denarius, 18mm, Rome mint, struck AD 134-138.
    Dia.: 18 mm
    Wt.: 3.15 g
    Obv.: HADRIANVS AVG COSIII PP; Laureate head right.
    Rev.: ITA-LIA, Italia standing left, holding sceptre and cornucopiae.
    Ref.: RIC II 307; BMC 853; RSC 869
    Ex DePew Collection

    Write up: A Group of Interesting Coins: Roman Edition
    Why I find it interesting: Hadrian is well known to have travelled extensively during his principate. The personification of places that the emperor visited during his travels were commemorated on his coins. Here we see a reference to his travels in Italy. Italia holds a scepter in recognition of her authority over the rest of the empire. The Italia coins are less common than many of the others. Travel series coins can be quite expensive sometimes so I was very happy to add this great example with plenty of pleasant detail and toning for less than $90. To add even more to this coin it is an ex CTer coin that I purchased through a JAZ auction (super happy to see those up and running again!).

    Bust of Hadrian in the Uffizi Gallery (Author's photo)

    Category: $91-$100
    Excuse me sir, you have something on your head...
    Roman Empire
    Elagalabus (218-222)
    AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck AD 221.
    Dia.: 19 mm
    Wt.: 2.84 g
    Obv.: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG; draped and “horned” bust right
    Rev.: Rev. emperor standing left, sacrificing over altar, standard on either side
    Ref.: RIC IVB 51
    Ex Shea19 collection, Ex CNG E-Auction 465, Lot 722 (part of), Ex Mike Vosper FPL 112 (11 March 2000), no. 35a

    Write up: Is Elagabalus Really Wearing a Desiccated Bull Phallus on his Head?
    Why I find it interesting: I have wanted one of these coins for YEARS but I was never able to find the right one. When I saw this one I knew it was the example I had to have. This was my one and only win from AMCC 3 which makes it that much more of a special coin. It was sold to me through a CTer (@Severus Alexander) and has a 20+ year provenance that includes the collection of another fellow CTe (@Shea19).

    The reason I find it interesting is the “horn” on Elagabalus’s head. One of the leading theories is that this was a dried bull penis that the emperor wore at ceremonies when sacrificing to his Syrian sun-god Elagabal. I encourage you to read my above write up for more details and some interesting discussion on the various theories.


    Thanks for reading! Hopefully the above is helpful in showing that interesting coins can still be had in any price bracket despite a sometimes irrational market in 2021.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
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  3. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Great budget buys my frugal friend:smuggrin:
    I went with horny Elagabalus, the travel series Hadrian (SCORE!) and the blind Homer writing away:wacky:
    Spaniard and Curtisimo like this.
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Great collection of coins for the year! Thank you for sharing.
    I particularly like the Italia Hadrian. I love coins with human (god?) depictions of the places they represent.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    All are my favorites.
    Two Thumbs Up.jpe
    TIF, ominus1 and Curtisimo like this.
  6. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    I'd have to go for the battle scene. That's a stunning coin, and I wasn't aware it's so cheap.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  7. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    My preferred is Elagalabus followed very close by Hadrian and the Homer coin.
    Congratulations for all the work you did with ''Top 10 Index'' thread !
    Curtisimo likes this.
  8. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    These are very nice selections, @Curtisimo. :)
    I like reading your various background information regarding the coins.

    As for my favorites, I'll choose your Constantius II Battle Scene coin, and Etenna coin with serpent / sickle-shaped knife.

    I picked up a similar Etenna coin recently from London Ancient Coins.
  9. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Nomen non est omen.

    Very nice 'budget' collection! And thank you for all the interesting write-ups.:)

    My favorites: the mysterious Entenna (love that obverse), the Homer from Smyrna, and the Constantius II is an absolute steal for the price. Great patina too!
    Curtisimo likes this.
  10. Mammothtooth

    Mammothtooth Stand up Philosopher, Vodka Taster

    I like Galerius and all the rest
    Curtisimo likes this.
  11. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great buying Curtis, a lot of historically important coins for not much money. But I love your Pamphylia, Perge for it's importance to Artemis
    culture, I have one as well. Perge.jpg
  12. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Great "budget" purchases, all of them.

    Voted for Constantius II - that reverse is amazing, the Etenna - never saw one before - and the Homereium - beautiful.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  13. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    I love the thrill of getting a low price on a almost feels naughty like you are getting over on everyone else. Sometimes I almost feel like I am stealing. I posted this in my top 10, though it didn't make the list, but it was the most excited I was about a coin all year...I almost squealed like a girl (albeit 6 foot 195 pound girl) when I won and there was definitely some sort of victory dance/celebration which is best never repeated.


    A.D. 289- 290
    22mm 3.9g
    IMP C M A VAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG; heroic nude bust right, with drapery over shoulders.
    CONSERVATOR AVGG; Maximianus holding sceptre, and Hercules, leaning on club; standing face to face, sacrificing at altar; B in right field
    In ex. XXIKOY
    RIC V Siscia 580

    and the meager battle for which I had girded my loins and oiled my sword and said the proper prayers and then this--

    'Ancient roman-aurelianus de maximien hercule-siscia - 289_290 - lapel top I eBay' - www.ebay.jpg

    are you kidding me...I had testosterone raging all day after an embarrasingly puny win, A man's greatness can be measured by his enemies and my enemies were lacking, :deep breath: I am still coming down from the endorphins! :D
  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful coins and write-up! Impressive from a cost standpoint as well. I think my favorites may be the battle scene (falling horseman), the Liberalitas, and the Hadrian Italia. Interesting to see Italia with the scepter: when she's portrayed together with Roma or the Emperor on coins, Italia is usually subservient (whereas the Emperor and Roma seem to be portrayed as equals).

    Edited to add: my eyes somehow passed over the amazing coin with Homer the first time, so I had to change one of my votes; I now have a vote for Homer and no longer a vote for the Liberalitas.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
    Curtisimo likes this.
  15. ominus1

    ominus1 ...BE SEEING YOU! Supporter

    ..we call those 'the falling horsemen'...:)(you had me thinkin' i missed one:p)
    TIF, Curtisimo and kirispupis like this.
  16. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    GREAT JOB, @Curtisimo ! BIG FUN with a little budget! Just super! Congrats.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I voted for #1, 2, & 8 :happy:.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  18. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Fantastic and eclectic mix for your numophylacium, @Curtisimo! I've always wanted one of those Homer coins but had no idea they were so affordable! I also like the Artemis from Perge and, of course, the Hadrian travel series.

    You had a great year! I hope that 2022 treats you just as well!
    Curtisimo likes this.
  19. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks Ryro!

    Thanks @furryfrog02 . I agree that the personifications are neat. For good measure here is my Africa.

    Thanks @Bing !

    Thanks Kirispupis. Happily they are common coins with lots of minor variations. Many collectors choose to specialize in them. It’s one of the most interesting designs I can think of from the late Roman period.

    I’m glad to see my least expensive coin getting so much love. I was happy to add that one.

    Thanks @singig ! I am happy to help with the index. There are lots of great threads and I wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to read them all easily could. :)

    Thanks @happy_collector ! Nice Etenna example! I really enjoy mythological coins and when I read about the background for this one I knew I couldn’t pass it up for the price.
  20. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Your awesome top 10 proofs that a wonderful collection can be build even with a budget under 100$! All coins are really worth it for that price. I like the interesting Etenna coin, nice obverse. The Homer coin is also really nice. And ofcourse I really like the theory of the last coin :D
    Curtisimo likes this.
  21. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful and interesting coins, I like coin with poet Homer, and denarii of Hadrian and Elagabalus.
    Curtisimo likes this.
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