Parthicus presents: Top 10 of 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    I still have a couple of outstanding bids in Frank Robinson's next auction, but it looks like I'm mostly finished with my coin purchases for 2020, so it's time to do my "best of the year" post. The year 2020 has had its difficulties for me, as it has for everyone; not just the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fractious political situation, but also in my own health. I was hospitalized for a week early in the year with a recurrence of pneumonia, and this summer I had an outbreak of shingles that looked like half my face was melting. (On the plus side, I had no trouble getting people to stay socially distanced from me during that time :hungover: ) But on the whole I'm doing all right- managing to avoid the pandemic (knock on wood), still gainfully employed, and my natural hermit-like tendencies mean I'm probably better equipped than most people to endure lockdowns/stay-at-home orders etc. I managed to acquire some very nice coins this year, including a few types I've been seeking for a long time. Two of these coins (#7 and 8 below) I haven't gotten around to posting full write-ups yet, so consider this a sneak peak. For the rest, I'll include links to my original write-up, in case you want to know more. As usual, the ordering is somewhat arbitrary, except that the first three are probably my three absolute favorites of the year.

    1. Roman Imperatorial, Julius Caesar AR denarius, lifetime issue of January-February 44 BC. This was an obvious choice for my #1 of the year. The historical importance is clear, and this coin hits the "sweet spot" of having enough wear that I could afford it, but not so much that the coin becomes unattractive. Ex-@Sallent collection, so it was also nice that I could give this coin a home after a fellow CoinTalker was finished with it.
    Julius Caesar.jpg

    2. Khazar Khaganate, AR dirham, c.880s-910s AD. A very rare coin from this rather mysterious culture. The design imitates the common trade coinage of the time, an Abbasid dirham, though with badly blundered legends and two "obverses". I've wanted a Khazar coin for a while, and was fortunate that Stephen Album auction had two listed.

    3. Sasanian Kingdom. AR obol. Ardashir I (as Ardashir V of Persis), c. 205/6-223/4 AD. Rare and historic initial coinage of the Sasanian Kingdom. Note that the king wears a Parthian-style tiara, but the hairstyle is more similar to Sasanian than Parthian designs. I also like that the details on the facing bust's face are clear; facing portraits on coins tend to wear down quickly, leaving an ugly mess behind.
    Ardashir Papak obol.jpg
    4. Roman Imperatorial period. AR denarius. Marc Antony (32-31 BC). The popular "legionary denarius" type, issued to pay Antony's troops in the lead-up to the Battle of Actium. Very historically important, and an attractive coin despite the low technical grade.
    Marc Antony legionary.jpg
    5. Arab-Sasanian. AE fals. AH 137 (754/5 AD). A very rare type that includes the Muslim kalima on reverse, and an unusually late issue for Arab-Sasanian coins. A very interesting coin, worthy of further study.
    transitional Abbasid-Sasanian.jpg
    6. Parthian Kingdom. AR drachm. Artabanos VI (c.212-224 AD). A scarce coin of the last Parthian king.
    Artabanos VI.jpg
    7. Persis. Uncertain King I (2nd century BC), AR hemidrachm. An early issue of this often-overlooked kingdom, which maintained a semi-independent Persian cultural identity during the Parthian period. Full write-up to come later.
    Persis unknown king I.jpg
    8. Normans in Sicily. AE follaro. William II (1166-1189). I like the history behind this, and also appreciate that the inscription is actually good, readable Arabic, not the badly-engraved nonsense of most medieval Christian kingdoms that issued "Arabic"-inspired coinages. Full write-up to come later.
    Sicily William II.jpg
    9. Ilkhans. AR dirham. Ghazan Mahmud (1295-1304 AD). I just like the falcon-and-sunface design. Of course, there's come interesting history there, too (there usually is).
    Ilkhan bird.jpg
    10. Parthian Kingdom. AE tetrachalkoi. Mithradates II (121-91 BC). Just a nice Parthian bronze, from one of the most important Parthian kings.
    Mithradates II Pegasos.jpg

    That's my list for the year. Let me know which is your favorite, or feel free to post whatever related coins you have.
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Great year for you @Parthicus. I'll bet you can't figure out which is my favorite. Of course! It's the MA Legionary denarius. But second, and running very very close is the JC denarius. Congrats!
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A nice list of coins. The JC is a great coin of course but I actually like #3 & #6 best.

    As for shingles, my neighbor had it a few years ago and one of my mom's friends, it's pretty brutal from what both of them said.
  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Parthicus, You scored an interesting variety of coins, many of which are esoteric to me :D!. My favorite is the Antony legionary denarius. I remember the excellent article you wrote on it :happy:. My 2nd favorite is the Ardashir obol with the front facing portrait. My 3rd favorite is dirham with the falcon & sun face. You wrote an excellent article on that coin too ;).
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  6. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Rare coins. The coin with double obverse is intriguing.
  7. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    My fav. is #9/ striking falcon! Close behind the Persis coin.
    I wish you really good health for the rest of 2020/ and beyond.
  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Yet another great 10, boy you cointalkers sure know how to buy quality, and yours is no exception Parthicus I absolutely love that JC.
  9. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Great coin-year @Parthicus! Sorry about the other troubles, but you have certainly picked some winners. I am loving #3!
  10. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    The JC is great of course, but I actually covet #2 and #3 more... both are on my list but hard to get for what I consider to be a reasonable price. Those are both great coins!

    Some related:

    Vologases VI, the easier-to-obtain bro of Artabanos VI:
    Screen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.04.03 PM.jpg

    Uncertain king I, drachm:
    Screen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.05.52 PM.jpg
  11. Alegandron

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

    Dynamite group, @Parthicus . Enjoyed each one and the info you gave. I like the Ilkhan Durham with the really cool falcon reverse. Mithradates with the horse is great, also.
  12. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Nice selection! A portrait JC is hard to beat, but I really like that Ardashir obol too.
  13. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    Those are some wonderful and historical pickups Parthicus! Number 6 and 10 would have to be my top picks. Number 6 in particular as nice examples of Parthian bronzes are not easy to locate.
  14. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Great coins Parthicus, my favorites is Julius Caesar denarius.
  15. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Nice and eclectic selection
    The Mithradates II bronze is something very special I guess.
    I like the JC denarius, of course and the Persis hemidrachm (#7)

    Here's my MA LEG III, sister coin to yours


  16. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's a truly fantastic list! There isn't a single coin I don't like. Also, it's very hard to pick a single favorite – your coins appeal for different reasons. These would be my picks:

    For general desirability: The Julius Caesar portrait denarius. It's obvious why. This coin would be the highlight of most Roman collections.

    For eye appeal: The Persis hemidrachm. That's a very fine portrait for such a small coin.

    For historical interest: The Norman lion. The Arabic-Norman culture of the Sicilian regno is one the most fascinatin chapters of European medieval history.

    For general curiosity: The Ilkhan hawk. On my list of desirable medieval Islamic coins, this type ranks high.
  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Great year for you, @Parthicus! My favorites are the Artabanos VI (thanks for the link to your OP; fascinating history), the Normans in Sicily lion-face, and the falcon and sun face.
  18. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Parthicus - for me it is the coins and associated history, usually drawing me east and adding perspective, e.g. #9 and #5 that I find interesting and exciting about your posts and Top 10 list. 10 & 6 also favorites that appeal to my Parthian interest. I look forward to your posts and wish you good health and interesting coins for 2021.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I prefer #6 and #10. I do not have #6 but feel I should have one to go with my Vologases VI which I selected for being off centered on the reverse allowing both top lines of the legend to be on flan.

    My AE with horses have the bust with Tiara. The first is a Mithradares II Pegasus dichalkous. I have it as Sellwood 28.17 (2.97g).
    The second without wings is Sellwood 31.11 according to my old records (Orodes I then; now?) but that is a tetrachalkous and my coin is only 2.73g. I need to research this one.

    My coin with the diadem is a legitimate tetrachalkous at 6.6g but the horse is walking. I have not found it in the literature.
  20. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    The JC, a great coin!....My favourite though is #6 I love how they used such simple abstract lines and curves to depict the facial features, nice beard..
  21. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Great list! And obviously your no. 1 is your no 1! :D In 2019, my Caesar life time denarius was no. 1 as well.
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