Seleucid Serrate Coins • Bottle Caps

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Deacon Ray, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray QUARANTINED! Supporter

    Post your bottle cap coins and your theories on their origin and purpose.

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  3. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    I LOVE these type of coins. Excellent collection and presentation DR!
    Here’s a couple:
    Alexander II Zabinas
    Ex JAZ
    Antiochos IV EpiphanesKINGS of SYRIA. 175-164 BCE Serrate Æ Ake-Ptolemaïs mint. Struck circa 173/2-168 BC. Diademed and radiate head right; monogram behind / Veiled goddess standing facing, holding scepter. SC 1479; HGC 9, 726. VF, earthen brown patina.
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  4. Alegandron

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

    Only have one bottle-cap from the Seleukids, and various other serrates.

    So much unknown as to how they were made, and why they were made. Lotta numismatic speculation, however nothing has been found as to how and why.

    Seleukid Empire
    Demetrios I Soter 162-150 BCE
    AE 17 serrate 16.8mm 3.9g
    Antioch on Orontes mint
    Horse Hd L -
    Elephant Hd R-
    SC 1646 SNG Spaer 1299-1304

    Carthage Empire
    Third Punic War
    Serrate Double Shekel
    149-146 BCE
    12.8g 26mm
    Wreathd Tanit-
    Horse pellet raised leg
    SNG COP 404
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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  5. Alegandron

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


    Roman Republic
    AR Denarius serratus 3.94g Rome mint
    Flan wgt control gouge reverse (Stannard Scoop)
    Hercules strnglng
    Nemean lion club quiver
    Craw 380-1 Syd 768

    Roman Republic
    R L Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus Asiagenus
    AR Serrate Denarius 4.0g 19mm
    Rome mint 106 BCE
    Hd Jupiter Left -
    Jupiter quad r scepter tbolt L•SCIP•ASIAG B
    Craw 311-1e Syd 576

    Roman Republic
    L Papius serratus
    79 BCE
    Juno Sospita goat skin
    JUG Griffon
    Sear 311 Craw 384-1

    Roman Republic
    C Mamilius
    82 BCE
    AR Den Serrate
    Mercury caduceus
    Ulysses Dog-Argos
    Sear 282 Craw 362-1

    Roman Republic
    L Licinius Crassus orator Cn Domitius Ahenobarbus
    118 BCE
    NARBO Serrated Roma Attic Helmet
    Gallic Biga
    Sear 158 Craw 282-3
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  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    This is one of my poorer specimens of a Seleucid serrate, but I found it in the local dealer's junk box for $2 which appeals to my scavenger urges.

    Better yet, when I was researching it, I found some very interesting articles about this coin causing a bit of a stir when found in Jerusalem at Tower of David. Here's the Jerusalem Times article - there are others online. I like how they call it a "bronze penny":

    Here's mine - it is worse than the one they found in the Tower of David, which is saying a lot! I'm sure CTers have nicer examples - and Ryro has already posted one above:

    Seleucid - Antiochos IV goddess AZ Dec. 2019 (0).jpg

    Seleucid Kingdom Æ 13
    Antiochus IV Epiphanes
    (c. 175-164 B.C.)
    Ake-Ptolemaïs mint

    Radiate head of Antiochus right / AΣΙΛΕ[ΩΣ] ANTIOXOY, veiled goddess (Hera?) standing left, holding sceptre (or torch?)
    Spaer 1130; SGCV II 6994;SC 1479; Hoover 726; BMC 41.
    (3.17 grams / 13 mm)
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  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Eye of Horus

    I have one of these types. Have not been able to attribute it though. Any suggestions would be appreciated. And thanks for the great display @Deacon Ray - I still think these serrates were intended to cap ancient beer bottles, perhaps Lucky Lager? ;)

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  8. David@PCC


    Hit the 10 limit.
    g135.jpg g186.jpg

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  9. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Eye of Horus

  10. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    I have a few, but for posting, chose this blank cap that wasn't labeled by the soda pop bottling company.

    Unstruck Seleucid Coin with Flan Extension.jpg
    You can see the extension from the casting mold on this flan that was to become a Seleucid coin, but never got there.
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  11. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting article- thanks for posting the link and your example of the coin!
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I have three Roman Republican Serrate coins:

    Roman Republic. C. Poblicius Q.f. AR Serrate Denarius, 80 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing helmet decorated with grain ears; ROMA behind, V above / Rev. C•POBLICI•Q•F; Hercules standing left, strangling the Nemean Lion; bow and quiver to left, club below, V above lion. Crawford 380/1; RSC I Poblicia 9; Sydenham 768. 20.13 mm., 3.84 g.

    Poblicius (Hercules & Nemean Lion).jpg

    Roman Republic, L. Papius, AR Serrate Denarius, 79 BCE. Obv. Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat skin; control-symbol of lyre behind/ Rev. Gryphon prancing right, control-symbol of lyre-key below, L. PAPI in exergue. Crawford 384/1 (see also Crawford Vol. II Plate LXVII, control-symbol 127 & p. 788), RSC I Papia 1, Sear RCV I 311 (ill.). 19 mm., 3.79 g., 9 h.

    L. Papius - Juno Sospita & Gryphon, jpg version.jpg

    Roman Republic, L. Roscius Fabatus, AR Serrate Denarius, 64 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat's skin, control-symbol [lamp with flame?] to left, L. ROSCI in exergue/ Rev. Maiden standing right with basket over shoulder, feeding serpent erect before her, control-symbol [lamp with flame?] to left, FABATI in exergue. RSC I Roscia 3, Crawford 412/1 (see also Crawford Vol. II Plate LXVIII, control-symbol 106 & pp. 790-792), Sear RCV I 363 (ill.). 16mm, 3.93g., 3h. (Depicts annual ceremony at Juno Sospita festival in Lanuvium, in grotto under temple; see RSC I at p. 85.)

    Roscius Fabatus denarius 59 BC - jpg version.jpg
    In terms of theories on the significance of serrated coins, I have none. I'm attaching the discussions on the subject in Crawford (Vol. II p. 581) and in John Melville Jones's Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (pp. 286-287). As you will see, each author shoots down various theories that have been proposed, but neither is able to come up with a theory of his own, beyond Crawford's conclusion that serration was likely "no more than a casual decorative fashion."

    Crawford re Serrate Coins Vol II at p. 581.jpg

    Jones Dictionary of Roman Coins re Serrate Coins.jpg
  13. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Great coins @Deacon Ray. I really like your AE of Antiochos VI. An elephant on a Seleucid bronze is almost irresistible. I hope it is acceptable to add a non-serrated Seleucid bronze to the thread.
  14. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray QUARANTINED! Supporter

    Great coins, @DonnaML ! Thank you for posting the textbook information.

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  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    You're very welcome. It's a bit frustrating that neither of those authors is able to provide an explanation that fits the evidence. As Freud is supposed to have said, however, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." So perhaps in this case as well, serration really was just a "casual decorative fashion" during a period of a few decades.
  16. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Well-Known Member

    A no-brainer observation: This thread is approximately 95% posting of examples and corresponding numismatic data, but less than approximately 5% input into the query posed by the OP @Deacon Ray about possible theories re: purpose and/or rationale for serration. A notable exception was this paragraph followed by the text pages to which the paragraph alludes:
    Melville says, "Unfortunately the purpose remains obscure". Crawford says it was likely "casual decorative fashion." And as @Alegandron correctly summarized, "Lotta numismatic speculation, however nothing has been found as to how and why."

    Is anybody else disappointed? LOL! Something within me wants there to have been a known, pragmatic rationale. But alas, perhaps not. Oh well!

    I have 3 examples, all of which are Seleucid. It *seems* that serration began with them in the 2nd quarter of the 2nd century B.C., then afterward serration was seen on some coinage of the Carthage Empire, then after that serration was seen on coinage of the Roman Republic, and then the practice seems to have died out by the last quarter of the 1st century B.C. IOW: It all happened within an approximate 150 year period.

    Any ancient examples prior to 175 B.C? Any ancient examples after 25 B.C.?

    Were the Seleucids the first? Did Carthage & Rome merely copycat the Seleucids?

    Perhaps I read too many Curious George books as a kid. ;-)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
  17. Alegandron

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

    LOL, my observations also. @DonnaML posited what I had read, and hence my summary you quoted. As we have all observed, sometimes Humans just... “do things”.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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  18. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray QUARANTINED! Supporter

    Thanks for your post, @philologus_1 ! It occurred to me that the practice may have been purely cosmetic and simply an attempt to minimize or mask irregularities and cracks in the edge of the coin.

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  19. Magnus87

    Magnus87 Supporter! Supporter

    Isn’t it possible that these mysterious serrations served the same purpose as the decorated edges (engrailments?) which began to be found on early-modern, screw press gold and silver — and later on steam-struck pieces as reeding — namely, to discourage shaving the precious metal from the coin’s edge. You know, just a little so the next guy wouldn’t know. Individually, not much but, as they say “a buck here and a buck there and pretty soon your’e talkin’ about real money”.
    Anyway, that’s what they said when I was growing up back in Brooklyn....
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  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    That's a sensible theory, I think. But if that were the reason, then why was the practice abandoned so quickly and then never resumed?
  21. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a Seleucid with an elephant head on a serrated flan:
    Laodike IV, wife and sister of both Seleucus IV and Antiochus IV.
    Selucia in Pieria, 175-164 BC.
    AE 3.33 gm; 15 mm.
    Obv: Veiled bust of Laodike IV, r.
    Rev: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ (of King Antiochus), elephant head l.; prow.
    Refs: Houghton, CSE 113 (plate coin); Forrer 183.
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