Lord Marcovan's Top 9 Ancient & Medievals of 2020 (the ONLY nine, actually...)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by lordmarcovan, Dec 17, 2020.


What are your favorites? Pick as many as you want.

  1. 1. Egypt (Ptolemaic Kingdom): silver didrachm of Ptolemy VI

    17 vote(s)
  2. 2. Roman Egypt (Alexandria): billon tetradrachm of Hadrian

    32 vote(s)
  3. 3. Roman Empire: silver denarius of Julia Domna

    4 vote(s)
  4. 4. Roman Empire: silver denarius of Julia Mamaea

    12 vote(s)
  5. 5. Roman Empire: billon Æ3/4, VRBS ROMA city commemorative

    11 vote(s)
  6. 6. Roman empire: silver siliqua of Julian II, ex-East Harptree Hoard

    12 vote(s)
  7. 7. German States (Brunswick-Lüneburg): silver bracteate of William Longsword

    20 vote(s)
  8. 8. German States (Mecklenburg-Wismar): silver witten (the "Mad Cow" coin)

    11 vote(s)
  9. 9. Switzerland (Basel): gold guilder (goldgulden) of Frederick III

    17 vote(s)
  10. 10. Meh. They all stink.

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    So, with all these Top 10 lists, I wondered about what my own might look like.

    Ancient and Medieval coins are but a relatively small subset of my larger "Eclectic Box" collection, so it turns out I could only find nine from 2020.

    Here they are, in chronological order by coin date.

    Egypt (Ptolemaic Kingdom): silver didrachm of Ptolemy VI ("Philometer"), second sole reign, ca. 163-145 BC; Cyprus mint
    Obverse: Diademed head of Ptolemy I Soter right, wearing aegis around neck.
    Reverse: Eagle standing left on thunderbolt with wings closed, P IZ (Z retrograde) in fields, E between legs.
    Issuer: Ptolemy VI Philometor, Ptolemaic King of Egypt, second sole reign, 163-145 BC.
    Specifications: Silver, 21 mm, 6.64 g.
    Grade: NGC VF; Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5. Cert. #5770260-002. Purchased raw.
    Reference: Svoronos 1228.
    Provenance: ex-Ken Dorney, via VCoins store, 30 May 2020.* Prior provenance to Classical Numismatic Group eAuction 456, Lot 248, 13 November 2019.*
    Notes: Struck at Cyprus. Ptolemy VI won a decisive victory against the Seleucid Kingdom at the Battle of Antioch (Oenoparus) in 145 BC, but died three days later from wounds received in the battle.
    Comments: This was my first Ptolemaic coin. I liked the greyish toning and the portrait on it.

    Roman Egypt (Alexandria): billon tetradrachm of Hadrian, ca. 117-138 AD; canopic jar of Osiris
    Obverse: Laureate and draped bust of Hadrian right, crescent moon before.
    Reverse: Canopus (canopic jar) of Osiris to right, L G across fields.
    Issuer: Roman Egypt under Hadrian, Roman emperor, 117-138 AD.
    Specifications: Billon, 26 mm, 13.50 g.
    Grade: F-VF; presently uncertified.
    Reference: RPC 5312, Emmett 827.6, Koln 825, Dattari 1321 (per Ken Dorney).
    Provenance: Ex-Kenneth W. Dorney Ancient Coins & Antiquities, Redding, California, USA, 27 August 2020.*
    Notes: In ancient Egypt, canopic jars were originally used during the process of mummification, to preserve and store the organs of a deceased individual for the afterlife. However, during and after the Third Intermediate Period (1069-664 BC), improved mummification techniques allowed the viscera to remain in the body. The jars remained a ceremonial feature in tombs after that, but were merely "dummy" jars that were no longer hollow and were no longer used for organ storage.
    Comments: I found the theme of this coin fascinating, given how relatively late in Egyptian history it is, having been struck during the Roman occupation. This was centuries after the time of the pharaohs. Osiris was still part of contemporary religion for people in Egypt, which still encompassed the traditional deities. It is interesting to consider how much of Egyptian history was just as ancient to the Romans as they are to us.

    Roman Empire: silver denarius of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus, struck ca. 196-202 AD, Laodicea mint
    Obverse: IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right of Julia Domna right.
    Reverse: CONCORDIA, Concordia, seated left, holding patera and double cornucopiae.
    Issuer: Septimius Severus, Roman emperor (193-211 AD)
    Specifications: Silver, 3.04 g. Laodicea mint ca. 196-202.
    Grade: NGC XF; Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5, "lt. scratches". Cert. #5770260-004. Purchased raw.
    Reference: RIC 637, RSC 21, BMC 593.
    Provenance: ex-Künker am Dom, Germany, via MA-Shops, 19 May 2020.*
    Notes: Julia Domna was the wife of one Roman emperor, Septimius Severus, and the mother of two more: Caracalla and Geta.
    Comments: It was that grey toning that did it for me, though perhaps not everyone might find that appealing. Personally, I think it is quite handsome, though in the matter of style, the face of Concordia on the reverse does have a rather space-alien-like appearance. It seems the Roman die engravers of this period were not always as skilled as their Greek predecessors.

    Roman Empire: silver denarius of Julia Mamaea, mother of Severus Alexander, struck ca. 222-235 AD
    Obverse: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, Draped and diademed bust of Julia Mamaea right.
    Reverse: FELICITAS PVBLICA, Felicitas standing facing, head turned to left, with legs crossed and holding caduceus and leaning on column.
    Issuer: Severus Alexander, Roman emperor (222-235 AD).
    Specifications: Silver, 20 mm, 2.24 g. Rome mint.
    Grade: NGC Choice XF, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5, "lt. scratches". Cert. #5770260-005.
    Reference: RIC 335.
    Provenance: ex-Ken Dorney, via VCoins store, 28 February 2020.*
    Notes: Julia Mamaea was the mother of the emperor Severus Alexander and served as his regent from the time he was 14 years old. They were members of the powerful Severan dynasty.
    Comments: The portrait, sharp details, and subtly colored toning were what attracted me to this coin.

    Roman Empire: billon Æ3/4, VRBS ROMA city commemorative; Constantinian era, ca. 330-340 AD
    Gift from Josh Z (@kazuma78). I haven't completed a writeup yet, but if you're interested enough, there's a thread about it if you click the photo (which is the case with the rest here).

    Roman empire: silver siliqua of Julian II, ca. 360-363 AD; found in 1887 in the East Harptree Hoard
    Obverse: DN FL CL IVLI-ANVS PF AVG; draped, cuirassed. and pearl-diademed bust right.
    Reverse: VOTIS/X/MVLT/XX in wreath with medallion in center containing eagle; TCONST mintmark in exergue.
    Issuer: Julian II ("the Apostate"), Roman emperor (361-363 AD).
    Specifications: Silver siliqua, 17 mm, 1.98 g. Struck at Arelate (now Arles, France- which was named Constantina at the time, hence the "TCONST" mintmark).
    Grade: Very Fine, toned.
    Reference: Arles RIC-309, T.
    Provenance: ex-Gert Boersema Ancient Coins, Hasselt, Netherlands, via VCoins store, 12 July 2020.*
    Notes: This coin was found in 1887 with a hoard of 1,496 pieces in the village of East Harptree, Somerset, England. A laborer named William Currell was digging to find the source of a spring when his pick struck the vessel containing the coins. Subsequent research indicates the hoard was deposited sometime around 375 AD. It included 718 coins of Julian II. This emperor earned his nickname "The Apostate" because he attempted to reverse the Roman conversion to Christianity, and to revert to the traditional pagan religious practices. In the long term he was unsuccessful, however, and was destined to be the last non-Christian emperor. He died in the Battle of Samarra against the Sasanian Persians in 363 AD.
    Comments: I was already interested in acquiring a coin of Julian II, since I had been reading about the transition from paganism to Christianity. I also had never owned a siliqua before. Roman bronze coins of this era tend to be common, but these silver siliquae are generally rather scarce. The coin was appealing enough on its own merits, but with the addition of a well-documented hoard pedigree from over 130 years ago, I found it pretty much irresistible.

    German States (Brunswick-Lüneburg): silver bracteate of William Longsword, ca. 1195-1213
    *This coin just returned from PCGS with an AU55 grade.
    Obverse: lion passant, left.
    Reverse: incuse mirrored image of obverse.
    Issuer: William of Winchester, Lord of Lüneburg (aka "William Longsword").
    Specifications: silver, 21.5 mm, 0.54 g.
    Grade: "Fast Vorzüglich" (Choice XF), per Münzenhandlung Brom.
    Reference: Numista-106982 (other references cited there).
    Provenance: ex-Münzenhandlung Brom, Berlin, Germany, 8 July 2020.*
    Notes: a bracteate was a uniface coin hammered with a single die upon a thin sheet of metal, which reproduced the same design on both sides; raised on one side and reversed and incuse on the opposite side. Bracteates (hohlpfennige, or "hollow pennies") were a regional medieval coin that circulated in many German-speaking lands from the 12th to 14th centuries.
    Comments: This was my first bracteate. Prior to its purchase, I had struck out at least three times in my attempts to win one at auction. I finally bought this one at retail instead. I like it for its simple yet suitably medieval-looking lion motif (William was the son of Henry the Lion), and its appealing old cabinet toning. I also like that it's from one of the German Brunswick (Braunschweig) regions, since I'm from Brunswick (Georgia, USA).

    German States (Mecklenburg-Wismar): silver witten, struck after the Wendish Coinage Union of 1379
    Obverse: Crowned bull's head facing, with protruding tongue.
    Reverse: Lily cross or cross fleurée, star in center.
    Issuer: Wismar, Hanseatic city in Mecklenburg, Germany.
    Specifications: Silver witten, 1.36 g. Slightly double-struck on obverse.
    Grade: PCGS XF40; cert. #39640148. Purchased raw.
    Reference: Numista-108456, Jesse 365, Oertzen 257-264, Kunzel 2 A/i.*
    Provenance: ex-Holger Siee, Germany, via MA-Shops, 11 June 2020.*
    Notes: Struck after the recess of 1379, under the Wendischer Münzverein (Wendish Coinage Union). The same bull motif on this coin remains on the coat of arms of Mecklenburg to this day.
    Comments: The whimsical, cartoonish bull with his tongue sticking out proved irresistible to me. He reminds me a bit of the gorgons on some ancient Greek coins. I affectionately call this my MCMC ("Mad Cow Medieval Coin").

    Switzerland (Basel): gold guilder (goldgulden) of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, ca. 1452-1478

    Obverse: ✠ FRIDORICVS ○ ROMANO' ○ IMPA', imperial orb within trefoil.
    Reverse: ○ MONET ○ NO. / BASILIEN' , Madonna & Child.
    Issuer: Imperial mint at Basel, Switzerland, as Prince-Bishopric under the authority of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (1452-1493).
    Specifications: Gold, 22.6 mm, 3.33 g. Struck ca. 1452-1478.
    Grade: PCGS XF45; cert. #39640149. Purchased raw.
    Reference: Numista-134933, Friedberg-9, HMZ 2-49h, Winterstein (Goldgulden) 128-165.*
    Provenance: ex-Sincona AG, Zürich, Switzerland, Auction 64, Lot 3075, 10 June 2020.*
    Notes: The term guilder or gulden is often used interchangeably with florin to describe similarly sized medieval gold coins from many European polities of the era.
    Comments: I found this lovely hammered gold piece attractive for its mellow gold toning and the Madonna & Child design. The "orb in trefoil" motif is also interesting. I was familiar with that from the 16th century Krauwinckel jetons, which have turned up in several bulk lots of World coins I've bought over the years (and at Jamestown, too).
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  3. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    the goldgulden is my favorite because it is different from most coins posted here
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Plus it has the unfair advantage of being gold. I reckon that never hurts. ;)
    Only a Poor Old Man likes this.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    The last four and the Canopus Jar are my favorites, but I could easily have voted for all of them. The bracteate makes me want to buy one myself, even though I just said earlier today that medieval European coins don't appeal to me!
    ominus1 and lordmarcovan like this.
  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    The Canopus jar is great, and I love that freaky mad cow medieval too!
    ominus1 and lordmarcovan like this.
  7. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Really nice group!..Love the Hadrian tet and I agree the toning on the Domna makes it really stand out!....Congrats on a good year.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    L.M., Your acquisitions this year show great diversity :D! The Basil guilder with gothic style lettering, #1 is an excellent example of Renaissance coinage :happy:. The German AR witten with crowned head of a bull is hilarious :hilarious:! Who said the Germans don't have a sense of humor :rolleyes:? The billon Tet of Hadrian is a great addition too.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  9. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Great coins! The Hadrian tet is my favourite.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  10. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Your URBS ROMA She-Wolf actually has fur, something rarely seen on a roman coin!!!! I like that very much!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  11. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    It also happens to be the only known portrayal of an anteater or aardvark on a Roman coin. ;)

  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Good group! While I do not collect them, the bracteate has special appeal.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  13. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    My favorite: Roman Egypt billon tetradrachm of Hadrian
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Great coins, @lordmarcovan! I, too, voted for the Hadrian tet with the canopic jar. But I also like the Julia Mamaea denarius and the VRBS ROMA.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  15. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    A wonderful set of coins! It should come as no surprise that I favor the bracteate, but the Witten is a very close rival to it.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  16. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great coins you picked. I of course like the Hadrian Tet. You say you never owned a Cistophorus, well I have never owned a siliqua. Crazy huh? I like yours. I also like the bracteate.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  17. kazuma78

    kazuma78 Supporter! Supporter

    I love the canopic jar and the bracteate, though I like them all for their own reasons. Great selection!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  18. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Great coins Lord! I also like the goldgulden from Basel/ I am looking for a dated one/ the others are exceptional in quality/ artistic designs. I have 5 coins from Basel/ here is one....1750 afdb07c72559c09ed00d25063ed0c4ce.jpg
  19. Seated J

    Seated J Supporter! Supporter

    All beautiful coins, I like the she-wolf/ anteater best. Your eclectic box updates are one of my favorite things ever posted here, and have strongly influenced my collecting over the last year.
    lordmarcovan and Theodosius like this.
  20. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    The canopic jar is a definite favorite of mine and your Ptolemy looks like it should have an earlier pedigree if one could be found. Great additions, many of which are perfect examples of your trademarked CircCam™.
    lordmarcovan and Theodosius like this.
  21. Alegandron

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

    VERY nice collection, Rob! Well done. I really like all of them, and you have a few in other time periods that I would welcome into my collection! Bracteate (LOL, what a marketing ploy from years ago - make the coin LOOK substantial by stamping ribbing into the form - but with no substantive precious metal added), your Gulden, etc. (gold always wins). I have always wanted a canopic jar, et al of Egypt. I really enjoyed going through your 2020's! Congrats. "Eclectic, and breaking OUT of the box!"
    lordmarcovan likes this.
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