Show us your interesting but ugly coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by thejewk, Jan 7, 2021.

  1. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    For my first purchases of the new year, I've managed to buy two lots that most people wouldn't dream of bothering with. In fact, they might be the ugliest items I've purchased so far. Do I regret them? Not for a second.

    Barbarous radiates minimi 1.jpg
    Barbarous radiates minimi 2.jpg

    First up is a collection of 22 barbarous radiates found in Norfolk and Suffolk, ranging in size from 5-11mm. Speculatively, these most likely were minted in Britannia or northern Gaul around 280 AD, not long before Carausius arrived. I find it remarkable that, considering how many of these are found both as stray finds and as parts of larger hoards, that they seem to have been acceptable and current in Britannia during and just after the Gallic Empire, the coinage which this series of coins copies, speaking loosely. Notice on how many of them, the only visible characteristic on the obverse, if anything is visible at all, is a few spikes of a radiate crown.

    Secondly, and more importantly:
    Maximian_under_Carausius_Comes_AVGGG-removebg-preview.png COMES_AVGGG-removebg-preview.png
    Not in RIC, Ashmolean Museum collection ref HCR24347
    IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG - Radiate and cuirassed bust right
    COMES AVGGG - S/P/MLXXL - Minerva helmeted facing left, holding olive branch in right hand, shield and spear in left
    Minted in London by Carausius to celebrate his 'treaty' with Diocletian and Maximianus
    Found in St Albans (Virulamium)

    As far as I can tell, this grotty and corroded little coin is the second known example of this type, the other found here:

    It certainly won't win any awards for looks, but this little coin is dripping with history. After Maximianus' failed attempt to retake Britannia from Carausius failed, he was forced to sign a treaty with Carausius, apparently recognising him as an equal colleague. I'm sure that both parties were well aware that this truce was temporary, but this didn't stop Carausius from taking advantage of the propaganda potential of minting coins for Maximian and Diocletian, as well as rare jugate coins of all three of their busts, each with a reverse ending in AVGGG, symbolising the three Augusti.

    This coins, with Minerva holding an olive branch, and the legend COMES AVGGG, naming Minerva in her peace offering role as the companion to the Augusti, was irresistible for a few quid.

    Only a few years after this issue, Constantius, the new Caesar in the West, took back Boulogne from Carausius by blocking access to the town by sea, therefore neutering Carausius' key strength; his navy. Then, Allectus took out Carausius in a bid for power, and was soon defeated by Constantius who returned Britannia to the empire.

    Please share your ugly but interesting coins, and tell us a bit about why you like them.
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  3. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Chola silver stater, Rajendra Chola (1014-1044), 2.96g.
    chola, sil.png
    Commemorative coin of Rajendra Chola conquering the neighboring kingdoms of Chera, and Pandya, depicted as the royal emblems-Cholan tiger, flanked by the Pandyan twin fish to its right, and the Cheran bow behind the tiger, all under the single rule symbolized by the umbrella, also there are two lamps on the either end of the fish and the bow to denote auspiciousness. And the legends in Nagari states, Uttama Chola, actually the name of his great uncle, but some say this coin was actually from the time of Uttama Chola (970-985) but it's highly unlikely that he managed to bring his neighbors under control. A copper Chola coin was my first ancient coin I got back in 2013, and ever since i've actively started collecting coins a couple of years ago I wanted to put together a tri-metal set, and a funny thing is the silver coin is much harder to come buy and paid as much as the gold one in even this ratty condition! It's one of those coins you need to complete a set, but you don't really love it! compared to this, the gold coin is much prettier!
    Nero Salus- My first Julio-Claudian coin. I do have a Nero Prutah, but you can't compare it with his fat face! I just love the portrait, relief, and centering on the obverse.
    however, the reverse is a different story!
    Zebucatt, JulesUK, DonnaML and 12 others like this.
  4. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice display and write up @thejewk - thank you for posting it.
    Deacon Ray and thejewk like this.
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member's in the eye of the beholder...kool lots man! :)
    Alegandron, Deacon Ray and thejewk like this.
  6. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Biblical Kingdoms Supporter

    Interesting post, @thejewk . Wabi-Sabi (corrected) is the Japanese view that there is beauty in imperfection. There’s more to it than that but if you GOOGLE the term you’ll find a more comprehensive description.

    Anyway, here’s one that won’t be winning any beauty contests.

    Please excuse me folks—my auto-correct changed it to Wabi-Wabi. It’s actually Wabi-Sabi.

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
  7. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Well, by that measure (Wabi-Wabi) I should be very beautiful, Ray - it didn’t happen!
  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Perhaps this is just my attitude but I see a considerable difference between ugly coins acquired sight unseen as a lot with other coins that turn out to be ugly and ugly coins bought individually knowing full well just how ugly they are. A subset of those are ugly coins that are more beautiful/desirable because they are so ugly or coins made better by being worse. Wabi Sabi allows for beauty through change so it is not making a value judgement as to what is ugly and what is just 'in process' of becoming what it is to become. Some ugly coins started out ugly and never passed through a cute phase (I was cute 70 years ago but that did not last long). Below are a few coins that I consider in the three categories of ugliness:

    1. Born ugly
    My left facing barbarous radiate with figure with rudder reverse was born ugly. It may be less shiny now but that has nothing to do with its ugliness. It is my 'worst' barbarous radiate.

    2. Achieved ugliness
    Through natural processes some coins have gained ugliness often through corrosion over a long time while buried. This as of Caligula was decent looking before the chemicals in the ground destroyed its surfaces. This is the more scarce of the obverse legends found on Vesta asses which explains why I have not disposed of the coin.....yet. rb1005bbbbbb.jpg

    3. ...had ugliness thrust upon them
    Many coins are made ugly through inept efforts at cleaning but other coins got ugly in only a few seconds as did this denarius of Augustus that was pierced by an iron nail (still partially present in the hole) and the ball peen hammer that kept striking even after the hole was made. This coin stopped being beautiful and started being 'interesting' in a matter of seconds.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
  9. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter


    This coin was described as an «Augustus as». It isn’t, but I can understand how one could make the misattribution. It seems to be a restoration issue commemorating Germanicus, struck under Titus, if I’m not mistaken. Not seen too often, I can’t recall having seen one before.


    This is no beauty, but perhaps that goes well with the looks of Claudius and the soul of Agrippina...
  10. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Some excellent uglified and naturally ugly coins posted so far, also each of them interesting in their own way.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Deacon Ray like this.
  11. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    My two most recent acquisitions are definitely not that pretty, but if you're collecting the coinage of the emperors of the Crisis of the Third Century, then you'll likely have to put rarity above condition:
    Claudio II.jpg
    Claudius II (268-270), Antoninianus, Cyzicus mint, second officina.
    Obverse: IMP C M AVR CLAVDIVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust with paludamentum left, seen from behind, two dots beneath;
    Rev: VICTORI-A-E GOTHIC, trophy and arms flanked by two captives, SPQR in exergue;
    RIC 251 (var.), RIC V online 926.
    Extremely rare bust type - only one (an obverse die match) on RIC V Online and no other examples in auction archives.
    Claudio II Sondermann.jpg
    Claudius II (268-270), Antoninianus, Siscia mint, second officina.
    Obverse: IMP CLAVDIVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust left, seen from the front;
    Reverse: PA-X A-VG, Pax standing left, holding olive branch in right hand and long transverse sceptre in left hand, II in left field;
    Unpublished and possibly unique, the combination of this left-facing bust with this reverse type is missing even from RIC V Online.
  12. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Is this beautiful? no. Is it still a witness of history? yep.
  13. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Canada Loonie is really ulgy/ but so are most modern coins.
    Here are some ugly oldies....
    AV Kahavanu ND/ NM Kalinga Dynasty 900-70AD
    AV Stater ND/ NM Senones circa 100-60BC d17a1b504d39dae02187e82cc5cf8b89 (1).jpg thumb00012.jpg
  14. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    flip-over over strike of P.PISO.FRVGI - per your title: but ugly
    PISO fods obv 3.JPG
  15. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    My ugliest but rarest.

    Geta (209 - 211 A.D.)
    AR Drachm
    Cappadocia, Caesarea-Eusebia
    O: AY K Π CEΠTI ΓETAC AVΓ Laureate bust of Geta right.
    O: MHTPO KAICAP NEO, Mt. Argaeus surmounted by star.“ET IQ” = year 19 = 210/11
    Sydenham/Malloy, p. 153, 498a, Ganschow 649c; Henseler 986; Berlin 18224071
  16. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    A batch of ugly coins I bought

    Pleasure from identifying and studying them - not ugly.
  17. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    I got this Decius at a good deal and it's in pretty decent condition, but what appears to be a double strike (or a hammer hop and die shift) on obverse mucks up his portrait a bit. It has some redeeming qualities though like it's unique legend and bust type.

    Trajan Decius, Ruled 249-252 AD
    AE Sestertius, Stuck 249/250 AD, Rome
    Obverse: IMP CAES C MESS Q DECIO TRAI AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust of Trajan Decius right, slight drapery on far shoulder, viewed from the front.
    Reverse: VICTORIA AVG, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm, S-C across fields.
    References: RIC 108a (var cuirassed, front bust)
    Size: 29mm, 20.8g
    Scarce obverse legend and a rare bust type.
    cf: Triskeles Auction, Sale 16 (6/3/2016), Lot #299

    This Domitian is pretty rough and scarred, but in the right light, that ugliness melts away.
    Domitian, Ruled 81-96 AD
    AE Dupondius, Struck 87 AD, Rome Mint

    Obverse: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XIII CENS PER P P, Head of Domitian, radiate, right.
    Reverse: VIRTVTI AVGVSTI, Virtus standing right, resting foot on helmet, holding spear and parazonium, S-C across field.
    References: RIC II 540
  18. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Roman coins of the 1st century circulated and so sometimes you really have to just take what you can get, because pristine pieces are unavailable or unaffordable.

    Quinctilius Varus
    P Quinctilius Varus AE30 Achulla Augustus Gaius Lucius.jpg

    Vedius Pollio
    Vedius Pollio zeus tralles.jpg

    Asinius Gallus
    Asinius Gallus dionysus temnos aeolis.jpg

    Julia the Elder + Livia
    Julia the Elder and Livia Pergamum mysia.jpg

    Tiberius with Nero and Drusus Caesars (elder brothers of Caligula)
    Tiberius as carthago nova Nero drusus caesares.jpg

    Same, but posthumous by Caligula
    Nero et Drusus posthumous lowball.jpg

    Nero Claudius Drusus
    Nero claudius drusus sestertius.jpg

    Messalina wife of Claudius AE Aiolis zeus.jpg

    Caligula + Caesonia
    Caligula Caesonia AE carthago nova.jpg

    I kept this brockage because of the good amount of wear - I find it interesting that someone would get a coin like this in their change and just spend it - over and over for years
    Claudius brockage.jpg
  19. Kurisu

    Kurisu Supporter! Supporter

    In over 4 decades of collecting I have only have two ancients in my entire collection and this is one of them, I know it's was a gift.
    I like it but I know nothing about ancients.
    Actually all I know...he's wearing a crown and there are two figures on the reverse. lol.

    Ancient mystery coin.jpg
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I wonder if that could be a mural crown on the obverse, worn by a city-goddess.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Kurisu like this.
  21. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I am just discovering this post and the excellent classification from @dougsmit of born, acquired, and imposed ugliness! I will add this coin from Elymais which demonstrates both "born" (crude reverses are the norm on this type) and "acquired" ugliness. It also is interesting in a different way than excellent OP coins from @thejewk. This coin is one of a few clues to a time time period who's history is mostly unknown.
    Elymais Tetradrachm.jpg
    Kings of Elymais, Uncertain King (successor to Kamnaskires V? Early Arsakid Kings?), Late 1st century BC-early 1st century AD, Billon Tetradrachm
    Obv: Diademed bust left; behind, four-pointed star in crescent above pellet and anchor symbol
    Rev: Crude diademed bust left, degraded legend

    To better appreciate the scale of this coin - here's a picture with a much later Roman coin of Arcadius:
    Elymais Tet SL.jpg
    My notes on this coin can be found here: Wabi-sabi: Embracing Imperfection
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