Let me know which one(s) you like best, and please feel free to post anything related! 1. It almost feels bad to start with this one. It is a type that all of you will have seen a zillion times, but it is representative of a trend in my collecting: although I often and with much joy handle my Greek collection, I didn’t add many coins to it this year. It has reached a size I am generally happy with. While I am thus not doing a lot of shopping around for Greek curiosities anymore, there are a few iconic coin types I feel are still missing. The Athenian tetradrachm filled the largest of these gaps. Since I didn’t like the idea of spending a small fortune on an immaculate example, I decided to search for one with enough historical wear to at the same time drop the price and imbue it with a layer of fascination apart from being “an owl.” This one fit both the bill and my expectations, and I simply love the chunkiness of it. Attica, Athens, AR tetradrachm, ca. 440s–430s BC. Obv: head of Athena to right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves and palmette. Rev: AΘE; Owl standing right, head facing; to left, olive sprig and crescent; all within incuse square. 24mm, 17.14g. Ref: Kroll 8. Ex Leu, Webauktion 8, lot 232. 2. This denarius, a favorite haul from AMCC 1, deserves more research and a proper writeup at some point. At this point, I have a lot of semi-answered questions: Why is there a Macedonian king on a Roman coin? (It has something to do with the moneyer’s cognomen being based on an ancestor’s connection to Philip V of Macedon mentioned by Livy, History of Rome, 42.38.8–9 , but the exact relation is unclear.) Why are there goat’s horns on Philip’s helmet? (Hint: read your Livy closely or see this wonderful blog.) Could there be a connection between the equestrian statue on the reverse and the rider on many common Macedonian coins? (The resemblance at least seems striking.) What the heck is the “flower” beneath the horse? (Theories range from a support structure preventing the statue from tipping over to a mythological reference to the conception of Mars.) Questions over questions. I’ll have to do some more reading over the holidays to better understand this coin, but it definitely makes my list. In my eyes, the denarius also gets bonus points for the almost monogram-like ligatured ROMA on the obverse. Roman Republic, moneyer: L. Philippus, AR denarius, 113-112 BC, Rome mint. Obv: ROMA (heavily ligated); head of Philip V of Macedon r., wearing helmet decorated with goats' horns and skin; below, Φ. Rev: L·PHILIPPVS; equestrian statue: horseman carries laurel- or palm-branch; below horse, flower (?); below, tablet with inscription and crossed X. 19mm, 3.86g. Ref: RRC 293/1. Ex Calgary Coin (2006); ex JB collection; ex AMCC 2, lot 98. 3. This one made my list because of the somewhat mysterious reverse: since the ploughman doesn’t wear priestly garments, it’s not quite clear whether the coin shows the drawing of a pomerium or is an agricultural reference. Crawford suspects the latter: “The reverse type now seems to me merely to complement the bust of Ceres on the obverse [...]; I do not believe that there is any reference to Sulla's colonies or to his enlargement of the pomerium” (RRC, p. 392). Another fascinating feature of this coin is the clear and quite accurate rendering of a wheelless Roman plough or aratrum. Crawford couldn’t identify the control-mark on this particular obverse die, but after close comparison with some Republican coins showing deities in chariots holding whips, I’m pretty convinced it is a whip. Roman Republic, moneyer: C. Marius C. f. Capito, AR denarius serratus, 81 BC, Rome mint. Obv: CAPIT; head of Ceres, diademed, r., control number CV; control mark (whip?) before. Rev: C. MARI. C. F. / S. C; ploughman with two oxen l.; above, control number CV. 18mm, 3.88g. Ref: RRC 378/1c. Ex Numismatik Naumann, Auktion 49, lot 518; ex private collection. 4. Caesar’s elephant needs no long introduction. @Severus Alexander recently came up with a plausible theory on this type in a splendid write-up. After reading his thoughts on the elephant denarius in last year’s Imperator Tournament, I had badly wanted one and finally pulled the trigger on this example. It is not centered well, but I like the golden-ish toning and the way the elephant seems to emerge from the fog. Note the large number of banker’s marks and graffiti, which for me add some additional interest. Roman Republic, Imperatorial Coinage, Julius Caesar, AR denarius, 49–48 BC, military mint moving with Caesar. Obv: [CA]ESAR; elephant walking r., trampling snake. Rev: priestly implements: culullus, aspergillum, axe, apex. 20mm, 3.70g. Ref: RRC 443/1. Ex Artemide, eLive Auktion 8, lot 208. 5. Many might say that this denarius is nothing special. Yet, I consider it a truly exceptional portrait and will leave it there. As the great philosopher emperor himself wrote: “Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised.” (Meditations IV,20) Marcus Aurelius (as Caesar), Roman Empire, denarius, 140–144 AD, Rome mint. Obv: AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS; head of Marcus Aurelius, bare, r. Rev: IVVENTAS, Iuventas (youth) standing l., dropping incense in candelabrum and holding patera. 17.5mm, 3.16g. Ref: RIC III Antoninus Pius 423a. Ex CNG. 6. Though not a rare type, this Cologne obol isn’t found in fully struck and attractive condition that often. There is a specific reason I wanted an outstanding example. The standard catalogues describe the reverse as a church building with three archways. Yet, comparing the coin to other Cologne pfennige showing church buildings makes me suspect that the three “archways” actually represent the sarcophagi of the three Biblical Magi, whose relics the issuer of this coin, Bishop Rainald von Dassel, brought to Cologne Cathedral in 1164. A letter by Rainald von Dassel with details of his acquisition of the relics and instructions for their transportation and display in Cologne survives. I plan to at some point write a longer piece about relics on coins as a form of episcopal and civic self-representation as well as “pilgrimage advertising” in the German Middle Ages. This project might have to wait a little while, though. Archbishopric of Cologne, under Rainald von Dassel, AR obol, ca. 1159–1167 (or: 1164–1167?). Obv: Bishop facing, holding crosier and book. Rev: church building with three towers, inside, three sarcophagi (?). 14 mm, 0.53g. Ref: Hävernick 498. Ex Teutoburger Münzauktionen, Auction 123, lot 3104. 7. Only few large bronze and copper coins were issued in medieval western Europe. The coinage of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily is quite exceptional in this regard. On the obverse of this anepigraphic trifollaro you can see the lion commonly used in Norman heraldry. It eventually even found its way into the Royal Arms of England. The reverse shows a date palm which might represent Sicily or, according to another interpretation, the tree of life. In any case, lions with date palms feature prominently in the iconography of Norman Sicily. This motif can be found in mosaics at the royal palace in Palermo and, most prominently, on the royal mantle of Roger II. Arguably the most splendid surviving textile object from the High Middle Ages, the mantle was later used as part of the Imperial Insignia of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1194 to 1806, the German emperors were crowned wearing a garment showing the motifs on this coin. Norman Kingdom of Sicily, under William II "the Good," AE trifollaro, 1166–1189 AD, Messina mint. Obv: lion's head facing. Rev: palm tree. 26mm, 10.27g. Ref: Spahr 117; Biaggi 1231. Ex Savoca, White Auction 1, lot 15. 8. Bracteates are probably my main collecting focus, and earlier on this year, I have done a little write-up and shown many of my bracteates in a featured thread. This coin is a true highlight of my bracteate collection. It shows the patron saint of Halberstadt, Saint Stephen. In accord with the account of his death given in Acts 7:54–60, he is shown with the instrument of his martyrdom, stones, and the legend titles him “protomartyr.” The eight-rayed star in the right field is a Greek chi on top of a cross, representing the crucified Christ. This is a visual reference to Stephen having a vision of Christ before he was martyred (see Acts 7:55–56). Also note that Stephen, being one of the Seven Deacons (Acts 6:1–6), wears the liturgical vestment of the diaconate, a diagonal stole. Bishopric of Halberstadt, under Gero von Schermbke (sometimes: von Schochwitz), AR bracteate, 1169–1177 AD. Obv: + S–STEPHANVSPROTOMARTI; bust of St. Stephen facing between three stones and star. Rev: negative design. 25mm, 0.83g. Ref: Berger 1324; Slg. Bonhoff 483. Ex Münzenhandlung Löchte (Rheine); ex Teutoburger Münzauktionen, auction 125, lot 1978. 9. This bracteate is not only visually stunning, it also has an interesting local story. In 1220, the politically strident Archbishop Albrecht of Käfernburg managed to acquire what was believed to be the cranium of St. Maurice, the patron saint of Magdeburg. The new relic was also meant to attract pilgrims and donations. Albrecht needed this additional income to rebuild Magdeburg Cathedral, which had been destroyed in a fire in 1207. Partly for promotion, he minted a series of three bracteates showing the saint with the recently acquired relic, and this coin is one of them. Archbishopric of Magdeburg, Albrecht von Käfernburg, bracteate penny, ca. 1220–1232. Obv: OICI – IVSDV; St. Maurice, nimbate and wearing armour, standing facing, holding cross and lance flag; below, church building with two towers an an arch; inside, cranium relic. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 23mm, 0.68g. Ref: Berger 1586; Slg. Hauswaldt 167; Slg. Bonhoff 712. Ex Westfälische Auktionsgesellschaft (WAG), auction 98, lot 971. 10. I don’t really focus on medieval British coinage, but now and then, it's time to venture out into non-bracteate territory. This groat with its grim portrait of Edward IV, a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, is quite something to look at and incredibly satisfying to hold. It’s also worth mentioning that it shows a rose, maybe meant to be the White Rose of York, in a fashion similar to some illuminated manuscripts from Edward IV’s reign. I’m glad @Orfew decided to part with it! Edward IV (second reign), England, AR groat, 1471–1483, London mint. Obv: EDWARD DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC, pierced cross with pellet in lower l. angle; saltire stops; crowned bust facing within a tressure of arches, fleurs on cusps, none above crown. Rev: POSVI DEVM ADIVTORE MEVM; long cross, three pellets in each angle, rose after DEVM; CIVITAS LONDON around inner circle. 25mm, 2.90g. Ref: Spink 2098. Ex Berk 201, lot 517; ex @Orfew collection; ex AMCC 2, lot 314 (their picture).