Orielensis' Top 10 of 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Dec 12, 2020.


Which coins do you like best? Pick up to three.

Poll closed Jan 11, 2021.
  1. #1: Parhian Empire, Vologases IV tetradrachm

  2. #2: Roman Republic, M. Sergius Silus denarius

  3. #3: Roman Republic, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius denarius

  4. #4: Roman Empire, Septimius Severus denarius, Neptune reverse

  5. #5: Roman Empire, Macrinus denarius, Jupiter reverse

  6. #6: Great Mongols, Genghis Khan jital from Nimruz

  7. #7: Medieval Europe, Saint Gall bracteate

  8. #8: Medieval Europe, Fulda bracteate

  9. #9: Crusader States, Henry II gros grand from Cyprus

  10. #10: Crusader States. Knights of St. John gigliato from Rhodes

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Let’s face it: 2020 has been a raving dumpster fire on pretty much all fronts. Personally, the whole situation brought about some drastic changes in my life. I moved from California (back) to Europe this summer, searched for and found a new job (which I’m very happy with), moved again, and now am in the process of settling down in the Black Forest region. It seems I kind of fell on my feet – which, thinking of all the family members, friends, and colleagues for whom this year turned out much worse, evokes some sense of relief but no real joy.

    Amongst all the chaos, coin collecting was a source of stress relief and tranquility for me, and the same applies to discussing our shared hobby with you on this board. When compiling this list, I was rather surprised to see that despite all the turmoil, I actually had what I consider a good collecting year. So, without further ado, here are my favorite ten coins of 2020 (in no prticular order):

    1. My Greek year wasn’t particularly good. Even though I bid roughly what coins hammered for in 2019, I was outbid at almost every auction. As a result, I crossed only one item off my "Greek in the broadest sense" wish list: this Parthian tetradrachm of Vologases IV, also known as the nemesis of Lucius Verus (see my write-up here).
    Together with a second Parthian (posted here), a Ptolemaic snack (in my budget list), and a Thasos trihemiobol (here), this is my complete Greek 2020. On the bright side, I got four coins that I really like, and this tetradrachm is my favorite among them: the expressive portrait, the exact date (down to a single month!), and the reverse scene very much appeal to me, and I am positively certain that it will stay in my collection permanently.
    Orient, Antike – Parher, Vologases IV Tetradrachme.png
    Parthian Empire, under Vologases IV, AR tetradrachm, SE 464, month Apellaios (November 152 AD), Seleukeia on the Tigris mint. Obv: Diademed and draped bust l., wearing tiara; B behind. Rev: [SEΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ / Β]ΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Ν - ΑΡΣΑΚΟY / O]ΛΑΓΑΣΟ[Υ - ΔΙΚΑΙΟY - Ε]ΠΙΦΑΝΟY[Σ / ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟΣ], date: ΔΞY – ΑΠΕΛΑΙΟΥ; Vologases seated l. on throne, Tyche standing r. before him, presenting a diadem. 27mm, 13.81g. Ref: Sellwood 84.13.

    2. This is a most gruesome Roman Republican denarius, showing the moneyer’s ancestor Marcus Sergius Silus, a veteran of the Second Punic War. Pliny writes about him: “No person living, in my opinion at least, ever excelled M. Sergius [...]. In his second campaign he lost his right hand; and in two campaigns he was wounded three and twenty times [...]. He was twice taken prisoner by Hannibal, [...] and twice did he escape from his captivity” (Natural History VII,29). I have wanted this type for a long time, and fell for the style and toning of this example:
    Römische Republik – Denar, Sergius Silus, Reiter mit Kopf.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: M. Sergius Silus, AR denarius, 116–115 BC, Rome mint. Obv: EX·S·C ROMA; helmeted head of Roma, r., denominational mark X. Rev: Q M·SERGI SILVS; one-armed horseman (Marcus Sergius Silus) l., holding sword and severed head in l. hand. 17mm, 2.84g. RRC RRC 286/1.

    3. Last year, the popular elephant denarius of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius ranked high on my favorite list, this year I added the second type struck by this stern Optimate and supporter of Sulla. The tiny stork, the fine portrait of Pietas, and the somewhat mysterious reverse, which probably is pro-Sullan propaganda (see my earlier write-up) catapulted it to my 2020 list.
    Römische Republik – Denar, Metellus, Pietas und Krug:Lituus.png
    Roman Republic, imperatorial issue of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, AR denarius, 81 BC, Northern Italian mint. Obv: diademed head of Pietas r.; to r., stork standing r. Rev: IMPER; jug and lituus; in laurel wreath. Ref: RRC 374/2. 19mm, 3.90g.

    4. Septimius Severus struck a series of denarii showing Neptune on the reverse, probably in reference to crossing the English Channel during the mostly failed British campaign in 208–210 AD. I bought this example almost exclusively for the reverse, which I wanted for my “Roman Pantheon.” Look at the quality of engraving and amount of detail on Neptune, and you’ll see why it made my top ten:
    Rom – Septimius Severus, Denar, Neptun (2).png
    Septimius Severus, Roman Empire, denarius, 210 AD, Rome mint. Obv: SEVERVS PIVS AVG; head of Septimius Severus, laureate, r. Rev: P M TR P XVIII COS III P P; Neptune, naked except for cloak over l. shoulder and r. arm, standing l., r. foot set on globe, holding trident in l. hand. 19 mm., 3,54 g Ref: RIC IV Septimius Severus 234.

    5. A coin of the short-lived emperor Macrinus was still missing from my collection, so when opportunity arose, I bought this denarius (more in my write-up). In hand, the incredible toning, the terrific portrait, and the tiny emperor next to the giant Jupiter on the reverse immediately made it a 2020 favorite:
    Rom – Macrinus, Denar, Jupiter RIC 76b.png
    Macrinus, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 217–218 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG; laureate and cuirassed short-bearded bust of Macrinus r. Rev: IOVI CONSERVATORI; Jupiter standing left, holding thunderbolt and sceptre; to left, small figure of Macrinus standing r. 20mm, 3.21g. Ref: RIC IV Macrinus 76b.

    6. This might come as a surprise some of you – it’s probably not a coin that you would expect to see on this list. Yet, I have a subcollection of coins connected to the 13th century Mongol invasions, parts of which I’ve shown in this write-up. The coin below, struck for Genghis or his sons just after the annexation of the Khwarezmian Empire and its neighbors in the 1220s, must be considered its centerpiece. Coins by Genghis Khan and his direct successors are rare, mostly because the Mongols originally didn’t use money:
    Orient, MA – Mongolen, Dschingis Khan, Jital, Album 1973.png
    Great Mongols, under Genghis (Chingiz) Khan or slightly later, BI “jital,” 1220s/1230s AD, Nimruz (Sistan) mint. Obv: "qa’an / al-‘adil" ('the just khan'). Rev: " zarb i/ nimruz" ('struck in Nimruz'). 14.5mm, 3.42g. Ref: Tye –; Album A1973.

    7. Bracteates are probably my main medieval collecting focus. I bought the coin below at a good price since the auction house really botched the photography shop, probably deterring other bidders (full story here). The Abbey of Saint Gall was at the center of medieval monastic culture in the German speaking lands. In the Carolingian and Ottonian periods, leading writers and artists like Notker Labeo and Tuotilo worked at Saint Gall, whose library still holds one of the most important medieval manuscript collections in Europe, consisting of about 2.100 handwritten books. In the 12th and 13th century, Saint Gall grew into an important political and economic power. My coin, which shows the abbey’s patron saint, is from this period. In my eyes, this is one of the most accomplished depictions of a monk on a medieval coin:
    MA – Deutschland etc., St. Gallen, Ulrich IV, Brakteat.png
    Abbey of St. Gall, under Ulrich IV, AR bracteate, 1167-1199 AD. Obv: +MONETA•SANCTI•GALLI; bearded bust of St. Gall, with tonsure, facing. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 23mm, 0.46g. Ref: Berger 2568–9; HMZ 1-463; Slg. Bonhoff 1818; Slg. Wüthrich 273.

    8. This bracteate is from Fulda, another German Benedictine abbey, which was founded in 769 AD by bishop Lullus of Mainz. Many of the earliest works of German literature, including the Lay of Hildebrand and the Merseburg incantations were written down at Fulda, and the poet and theologian Rabanus Maurus became abbot in 822 AD. My coin was produced later, after the abbey had been transformed into an ecclesiastical principality under emperor Frederick II. Note the excellent toning:
    MA – Deutschland etc., Fulda, Heinrich IV, Brakteat (neu).png
    Abbey of Fulda, under Heinrich IV. von Erthal, AR bracteate, ca. 1249–1261 AD. Obv: Abbot seated facing holding palm branch and book; in Gothic polylobe and double pearl border; around outer rim; H-V-H-V. 29mm, 0.52g. Ref: Berger 2293.

    9. Henry II, a member of the Lusignan dynasty, was the last crowned king of Jerusalem. After the Fall of Acre in 1291, he had to retreat to Cyprus. At Cyprus, Henry struck a series of large silver coins mostly used for trade. The obverse of my coin, which was inspired by the design of Neapolitan gigliati, shows Henry with regal insignia accompanied by a legend translating as “Henry, King of”. On the reverse, the Jerusalem cross as well as his claims to “Jerusalem and Cyprus” are displayed:
    MA – Kreuzfahrer, Zypern, Heinrich II, Gros grand, CCS 52.png
    Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus, under Henry II, AR gros grand (second series 1b), 1285-1324 AD (probably struck after 1310 AD), Famagusta (?) mint. + hЄnRI RЄI DЄ (triple pellet stops), Henry seated facing on throne decorated with lions, holding lis-tipped scepter and orb. Rev: + IЄRuSAL'M Є DЄ ChIPR; Jersualem cross. 26.5mm, 4.50g. Ref: Metcalf; The Gros grand and the Gros petit of Henry II of Cyprus, part 2 (1983), no. 279–280; CCS 52.

    10. I already posted an extensive write-up on this one, so I’ll keep it short. Struck for the Knight of St. John at Rhodes, this is a type I long coveted for my small collection of medieval coins struck by the military orders. It shows the Hospitaller’s grand master kneeling in prayer, a design that derives from the order’s earlier seals. Note the small personal arms of Raymond Berenger and the cross on his coat, which identifies him as cruce signatus. The reverse, on the other hand, copies the floral cross of the Neapolitan gigliato, which circulated extensively in the eastern Mediterranean in this period, but adds the shield of the Knights of St. John at each arm of the cross:
    MA – Kreuzfahrer, Johanniter auf Rhodos, Raymond Berenger, Gigliato (neues Foto).png
    Knights Hospitaller (Order of St. John) at Rhodes, under Raymond Bérenger, AR Gigliato, 1365-1374. Obv: + F RAIMUNDVS BERENGERII D GRA M; Grand Master, wearing cloak with cross on shoulder, kneeling l. in prayer before patriarchal cross set on steps; arms of Raymond Bérenger to r. Rev: + OSPITAL ♣ S • IOhS • IRLNI : QTS • RODI •; cross fleury with arms of the Knights Hospitaller at the end of each arm. 28 mm, 3.64g. Ref: Metcalf 1208–1210; CCS 22.

    If you see any favorites, have remarks, or would like to share related coins, please feel free to post them below!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    You did have a great year as far as acquisitions to your collection! All appealing coins, but I had to go with the two fascinating Roman Republican issues and the scarce Macrinus.

    May 2021 treat you well!
    Orielensis likes this.
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I voted for numbers 2, 3, and 5. All are nice, but I have a sweet spot for RR coins.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
    Orielensis likes this.
  5. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Love the abbey of Fulda & Knights Hospitaler! The Silus Denarius is really neat too! Congrats on a good coin year, and that you ‘fell on your feet.’ Were you able to stay in your field with the new job?
    Orielensis likes this.
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Orielensis, The 1st impression I get from your selection is diversity :D! Great coins in many different areas :happy:. My 3 favorite coins in no particular order are 1, 5, & 8. I like Parthian Tets, & your Vologases is a choice example. I find the Macrnus denarius truly amusing with the tiny emperor on the reverse :hilarious:. The bracteate of Fulda is another gem. How the mint managed to make a 29 mm coin weighing only a hair over 1/2 gm is astonishing :jawdrop:! I would be afraid to handle that coin :nailbiting:.
    Orielensis likes this.
  7. kazuma78

    kazuma78 Supporter! Supporter

    8 is pretty awesome! Love that bracteate
    Orielensis likes this.
  8. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    Congratulations ! , I chose #3, #5 and #2 , in order of preference.
    Orielensis likes this.
  9. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I'd say my favorites are 1 (of course), 2, and 9.
    Orielensis likes this.
  10. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Awesome coins @Orielensis you got some real winners in 2020. My favorite is the gigliato from Rhodes, but the bracteate is from Fulda is a very close second.

    I'm also glad to hear you landed on your feet. I would make a joke about ham and cake but haven't had enough coffee to get the old grey cells working that well this morning.
    Orielensis likes this.
  11. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    I very much like your parthian tet and the Metellus denarius. My third choice is probably a surprise (as much as its presence here is), it's the Mongols jital. A crude coin, yes, but unseen, and with so much History and fantasy behind it

    Well done in such a troubled year

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  12. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice selections. I like your Roman denarii.
    Orielensis likes this.
  13. Alegandron

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

    Wonderful set of coins, @Orielensis . Nice to have those moves OVER with, I bet! And, nice that you landed on your feet during this cruddy year.

    I am REALLY drawn to the Genghis Kahn... nice pickup!!!
    Orielensis likes this.
  14. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great list and happy everything worked out for you in a tough year. My favorites are the Silus denarius (2) and the Septimius denarius (#4)...I love that Neptune reverse.
    Orielensis likes this.
  15. spirityoda

    spirityoda Coin Junky Supporter

  16. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Wonderful coins:artist: Genghis Kahn coinage:woot::woot::woot: all sorts of jealous there.
    Very cool design on your parthian tet:pompous:
    I'd given up on Parthian coins since the one big purchase I'd made turned out to be a fake:depressed:
    However, I purchased a pretty cool lot recently (same one that my new fouree was in https://www.cointalk.com/threads/lets-have-some-fun-fouree-while-plated-pile-on.371430/) and it featured a pretty good looking Parthian that I believe to be Vologases III (corrections are always appreciated):

    Also a big fan of those RRs of yours
  17. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great set of coins, I especially like your Sergius Silus a coin that's been on my want list for ages, I hope I can get one as nice as yours. Congrats.
    Orielensis likes this.
  18. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    A nice variety!.....I went for #5, #6, #4 Lovely coins!
    Orielensis likes this.
  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A great group, @Orielensis. I voted for the Sergius Silus (one of my own favorites), the Septimius Severus, and the Macrinus -- wonderful reverses on all of them.

    May I ask where in the Black Forest region you now live? The reason I ask is that my maternal grandmother was born and grew up in Sulzburg (a village south of Freiburg, about a third of the way to the Swiss border and Basel, that backs up directly against the Schwarzwald itself), where six generations of her paternal ancestors had lived since the first one moved there in August 1724. Other towns and villages in the area, where her maternal ancestors and the wives of her paternal ancestors came from, back to the late 1500s -- and/or are buried -- include Rust, Diersburg, Emmendingen, Altdorf, Müllheim, Schmieheim, and Breisach, plus a number of towns across the Rhine in Alsace. And, on the other side of the Black Forest, Stühlingen and Tiengen. Plus Freiburg itself, once the 400-year ban on Jews living there was finally lifted in the 1860s. I've been to that part of Baden twice, most recently in 2018 with my son for a memorial ceremony in connection with the installation of Stolpersteine. So I'm reasonably familiar with the area, and can't help being curious when I hear that someone else lives there!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
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  20. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Beautifull coins, all are unique in their own way. I really like 1/9/10
    The Rhodes is my favorite of all!
    Thanks for showing them to us:)
    Orielensis likes this.
  21. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks a lot for the kind words and opinions, everyone! I appreciate it.

    Cheers, and fortunately I was. So there is a good chance that we will again meet at Kalamazoo once everything is back to normal.

    Thanks. The ham and cake jokes come quite often these days – which is a bit ironic, since I neither eat meat nor am a great fan of cream. But you can always tempt me with spätzle, schupfnudeln, brägele and kirsch, so I guess I'm still in the right place.

    Of course you may! It's very good to hear that you have family roots in the region and are keeping this connection. I'm currently living in Freiburg, and it looks as though I'll stay here for at least a long while. The surrounding area is still familiar to me from my undergraduate days at Freiburg university, and I vividly remember Sulzburg and its rich Jewish history. Also, the Stolpersteine in my eyes are an important and sensible monument. I'm passing the stone for Edmund Husserl every day on my way to work.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
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