Lots Of New Ancients!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by AncientNumis, May 21, 2022.


What's your favourite?

  1. Istros

    2 vote(s)
  2. Medieval

    2 vote(s)
  3. Nabatean

    1 vote(s)
  4. RR

    7 vote(s)
  1. AncientNumis

    AncientNumis Active Member

    Hi all, I haven’t been very active recently, although I’ve enjoyed reading posts. Thought it might be fun to show some of my most recent additions to my collection. They’re not the greatest, but they fit my budget and I love them lots. I'll say a little about each coin, and say what I paid for it to show ancient coins can be really affordable and maybe you can let me know if I did alright! So here we go:

    Istros AR Fraction - 33 Pounds
    This is just a tiny silver fraction from Istros. I love it for a number of reasons. Firstly, it features animals! Eagle on dolphin, pretty cool scene. The reverse is my favourite. Two mysterious heads facing , one upside down. So many theories as to what it could represent: branches of the river, dioskuri, or even a solar eclipse! For me, mysteries make ancients interesting, so I enjoy them. Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.27.png Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.21.png
    Medieval Coins Lot - 22 pounds
    Well, not strictly ancient. When I went to a car boot sale, I managed to find someone selling lots of medieval coins! I picked some ones I liked the look of and yeah, that's it. Got 2 Edward I, 1 Edward IV, 1 Elizabeth, and a James I. Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.48.png Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.55.png
    Nabatean Coins Lot - 22 pounds
    I love Petra, so thought I'd get these - despite being in poor condition, they were super fun to research and I learnt a lot about the various rulers and the empire. Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.39.png Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.33.png
    Vibius Varus Denarius - 95 Pounds
    Here's where it gets exciting! This is my most expensive ancient so far, and I love it. It's a denarius issued by Vibius Varus in 42 BC. With a beautiful Bacchus obverse, and a Panther (well, I know I probably shouldn't say that but ehh) leaping towards an altar decorated with garlands and a mask of Silenus, it has so many cool details! Even Bacchus' hair has Ivy and Grapes. This is my first RR coin, and I find it so lovely. Surfaces aren't great, but I don't mind too much. Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.07.png Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 14.43.15.png
    Well, thanks for reading my little post. Hope you liked it :))

    If you want to learn more, I'll be writing an article about some of them (hopefully this weekend), and I've got 2 little YouTube videos I made to discuss and show the lots of Nabatean And Medieval ones. So, yeah, check them out if you're interested. Here are the links:


    What's your favourite of my recent purchases? I've made a little poll so you can have your say!

    Show us your coins similar to any of mine, or even just fun recent purchases. I'd love to see them :D

    Spaniard, seth77, Herodotus and 14 others like this.
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  3. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    Great coins! I voted for the Roman Republican. Here's my specimen of the same type; it's one of my favorites:

    Roman Republic, C. Vibius Varus, AR Denarius, 42 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Bacchus (or Liber)* right, wearing earring and wreath of ivy and grapes / Rev. Spotted panther [leopard]** springing left towards garlanded altar on top of which lies a bearded mask of Silenus or Pan,*** and against which leans a thyrsus with fillet (ribbon); C • VIBIVS in exergue, VARVS upwards to right. Crawford 494/36, RSC I Vibia 24, Sydenahm 1138, BMCRR 4295, Sear RCV I 496. 17 mm., 3.60 g. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG, Auction 83, May 20, 2015, Lot 83; ex Frank Sternberg Auction 17, Zurich, May 1986, Lot 519.


    *The identification of the obverse head as Bacchus or Liber is essentially immaterial. See Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990) at p. 33 (entry for “Bacchus”): “For the Romans . . . . [Bacchus] was generally identified with the Italian deity Liber, whose name is probably derived from the same root as the word ‘libation,’ suggesting that in Italy he was an earth or vegetation spirit who could be worshipped by pouring offerings upon the ground. . . . Bacchus appears rarely upon Roman imperial coins (and when he is given a name, he is called Liber). He is shown as a youthful male figure, nude or partly draped, perhaps with a wreath of ivy leaves. He may bear a thyrsus and be accompanied by Ariadne, a bacchant or maenad, or a panther.”

    ** There is little doubt that the big cats generally referred to as “panthers” in ancient coin reference works are actually leopards (or, occasionally, cheetahs), particularly when their spots are visible, as on this coin. There is, of course no such separate species as a panther; even a black panther is simply a melanistic leopard (or, in the Western Hemisphere, a jaguar or cougar) with black fur obscuring the spots. The classical world was well aware that pantherae usually had spots. See the many ancient mosaics and other works of art depicting Dionysos/Bacchus with a spotted panther/leopard, such as this mosaic from the House of the Masks in Delos, from ca. 100 BCE, in the Archaeological Museum of Delos:


    See https://www.pinterest.dk/pin/441423200974714028/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#House_of_the_Masks. See also the following passage from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History at 8.23, concerning the spots on the panthera:


    “The spots of the panther are like small eyes, upon a white ground. It is said that all quadrupeds are attracted in a most wonderful manner by their odour, while they are terrified by the fierceness of their aspect; for which reason the creature conceals its head, and then seizes upon the animals that are attracted to it by the sweetness of the odour. It is said by some, that the panther has, on the shoulder, a spot which bears the form of the moon; and that, like it, it regularly increases to full, and then diminishes to a crescent. At present, we apply the general names of varia and pardus (which last belongs to the males), to all the numerous species of this animal, which is very common in Africa and Syria.” (Footnotes omitted.)

    For a detailed discussion of this passage in Pliny, and the terms panthera and pardus in general as used in the classical world, see the dissertation by Benjamin Moser of the University of Western Ontario, entitled The Ethnozoological Tradition: Identifying Exotic Animals in Pliny's Natural History (available at https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2566&context=etd), Chapter 3.1 at pp. 86-96, “Identifcation of the Panthera and Pardus.” (Moser argues, among other things, that while the term pardus -- from which the word leopard derives, after being combined with “leo” -- was used in the ancient world in Pliny’s time to refer only to male pantherae, the term varia “was not reserved for females but [was] just another word to describe the panthera which arose from the spotted nature of these cats.”)

    ***The mask has more frequently been identified with Pan than with Silenus, but because the moneyer’s branch of the gens Vibia lacks the cognomen “Pansa” (a reason for the appearance of Pan on the coins of moneyers with that cognomen, as a pun), Silenus appears to be a more likely identification, especially given the association of Silenus with Bacchus. See Jones, supra at p, 289, identifying Silenus as “[a]n elderly attendant of Bacchus.” See also id. at p. 234 (entry for “Pan”), noting that “[a] bearded head which appears on [the obverse of] a silver sestertius of T. Carisius [46 BC), with a reverse type of a panther bearing a thyrsus, has been identified as Pan but is more likely to be a Silenus, matching the Bacchic reverse type.”
  4. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Although the RR is very impressive, I voted for Istros.
    I also have a fraction, and it was one of the must have coins for me, any variety, as I like the design.
    This one is rare - left head inverted and dolphin and eagle are facing right (I wasn't aware of this when buying it :D)
    Dima GIV sgVII II (fraction) ca. 280-256/5
  5. AncientNumis

    AncientNumis Active Member

    @DonnaML Awesome coin, and really enjoyed reading through your description! I really like the mask on the altar, so thanks a lot for helping me to understand why it's more likely to be Silenus, very fascinating.

    @ambr0zie Love that coin! Always nice to figure out a coin is a rare variety after buying it, it's a great feeling. Yeah I'm super intrigued by these Istros types, and I just had to get it. I also got some other fractions a while ago so it'll have some friends :)
    DonnaML and ambr0zie like this.
  6. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Your Istros fraction with the incuse square reverse and the 3/4 facing heads is an earlier GII from ca. before 400BC.
    AncientNumis likes this.
  7. AncientNumis

    AncientNumis Active Member

    Oh thanks! I was totally unaware of this - barely even noticed the incuse type reverse. Really nice to find out it's a bit earlier than I expected. Are these types seen slightly less than later ones - or are they just as common? I don't mind about value, but just curious.
  8. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    To tell you the truth, I'm just not sure. There is certainly more of the 'drachma' or 'starter' types around, but that can be explained by their bulkiness and market value. There are certainly a great deal many small 'hemiobols' (which seems the case with your coin) before 400. With around this ballpark it seems that the 'trihemiobol' starts being used, which might be inferred from the fact that there is a disproportionately low number of these 1.5g coins with the incuse square compared to the later ones with the hellenistic facing heads, no incuse square and multiple marks that were made in the 4th century, especially after ca. 330-313. I would think that they are scarce, certainly compared to the late 4th century coinge. But its interest lies more in the very particular style, that has a lingering Archaic era air to it.
    AncientNumis likes this.
  9. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

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