St. Valentines Day and "Hearts" on coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gary Waddingham, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Gary Waddingham

    Gary Waddingham Well-Known Member

    The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is wonderful for many reasons. Among other things it is droll. Here is what it says about St. Valentine or at least part of what it says. "Though the surviving accounts of both martyrdoms are clearly legendary, there are indications that each contains a nucleus of fact; and it is just possible that the kernel of truth in the two legends refers to a single person. The traditional association of St. Valentine's day with courtship and the choosing of a Valentine of the opposite sex is connected perhaps with certain customs of the pagan festival of Lupercalia at Rome, or with the natural season, not with any tradition concerning either saint of the name." Lupercalia can be looked up on line. Prepared to be a bit shocked.

    The so called "heart" symbol which you will have to admit looks nothing like a human heart or any other kind of heart, is actually a sylphium plant seed. The plant is extinct or at least nearly so. It grew in North Africa and was harvested for use as a birth control drug. Its profitability is attested to in its presence on the coins of Cyrene in North Africa. They are fairly rare and quite expensive. Here is one of my small examples with only the seed. Other coins show the whole pant which is related to celery.
    sylphium seed.jpg
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Does a heart-shaped planchet count? With Pudicitia, goddess of don't touch me.

    Julia Domna - Den. Pudicita Jan 2020 (4).JPG

    Julia Domna Denarius
    (196-211 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right / PVDICITIA, Pudicitia seated left, veiled and right hand on breast; left arm at side.
    RIC 576; RSC 168.
    (2.97 grams / 18 x 16 mm)

    Julia Domna - Den. Pudicita Jan 2020 (0).jpg
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Happy Valentine's Day, all.

    No "hearts" here, but here at least is Eros/Cupid...

    Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochos IX Philopater, 113 - 95 BC, AE18

    Seleucid Kingdom, Antiochos IX Philopater, 113 - 95 BC
    AE18, Phoenician Mint, 112 - 101 BC, 6.69 grams
    Obverse: Winged bust of Eros right.
    Reverse: Nike advancing left holding wreath, date in left field.
    HGC9,1254 // SC2388
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    That's groovy, and the red background just makes it all the better.
  6. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Young Dionysos with ivy leaf formed as hearts in his hair:

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  7. Ryro

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

    Here's a couple stupid Cupids: 63861B3E-3425-41AB-A3E5-EA4D5D1DA832.png
  8. paddyman98

    paddyman98 Let me burst your bubble! Supporter

    I just did.. Wow :wideyed:
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's lupus for Lupercalia, the festival of Juno Februata:

    Trajan, AD 98-117.
    Roman AE quadrans, 3.68 g, 16.4 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 98-117.
    Obv: IMP CAES NERVA TRAIAN AVG, laureate bust right, drapery on left shoulder.
    Rev: She-wolf walking right; SC in exergue.
    Refs: RIC 692; BMCRE 1060; Cohen 338; RCV --; Woytek 599b1.

    And a Juno:

    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman AE sestertius, 24.02 g, 29.5 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 161-175.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right wearing double circlet of pearls.
    Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, Juno standing left, holding patera and scepter, peacock at feet.
    Refs: RIC 1651; BMCRE 919-921; Cohen 142; RCV 5278; MIR 19.
    Notes: Ex Christian Blom.
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  10. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Cupid coming to save the day - on his goat

    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: CAESAR Head of Mars left in crested helmet
    REVERSE: Venus Genettris with scepter, in biga drawn by two Cupids left, lyre in field, contolmark above, L IVLI L F in ex.
    Struck at Rome, 103BC
    3.85g, 17mm
    Cr320/1, Syd 593a.
    MN. FONTEIUS CF 2.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Laureate head of Apollo Vejovis right, M FONTEI CF behind, thunderbolt below, ROMA monogram below chin
    REVERSE: Infant winged Genius (or Cupid) infant Genius riding goat right, , caps of the Dioscuri above, filleted thyrsos below
    Struck at Rome 85 BC
    3.87g, 20mm
    Cr353/1a; Fonteia 9
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    That which is mentioned should be shown:
    Kyrene AE25
  12. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Here's a few Venus-es ( :bookworm: :bored: Venii??:D) and a cupid for good measure.

    Plautilla, Wife of Caracalla who ruled 198-217 AD
    AR Denarius, Struck 202-205 AD, Rome Mint
    Obverse: PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA, bust of Plautilla, hair firmly waved and drawn down on neck, draped, right.
    Reverse: VENVS VICTRIX, Venus, naked to waist, standing left, holding apple in extended right hand and palm in left hand, resting left elbow on shield; at feet, left, Cupid.
    References: RIC IV 369
    Size: 21mm, 3.24g

    Faustina II, Wife of Marcus Aurelius who ruled
    AR Denarius, Struck under Antioninus Pius 145-161 AD, Rome mint
    Obverse: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, Bust of Faustina the Younger, band of pearls round head, with hair waived and coiled on back of head, draped, right.
    Reverse: VENVS, Venus, draped, standing left, holding apple in right hand and rudder set on dolphin, which coils round it, in left.
    References: RIC III 517c

    Julia Domna, Wife of Sept. Severus,
    Empress 193-217 AD, AE Sestertius,
    Rome Mint, Struck 193-196 AD
    Obverse: IVLIA DO-MNA AVG, Bust of Julia Domna, hair waved and coiled at back, draped, right.
    Reverse: VENERI VICTR, Venus, naked to waist, standing left, holding apple in extended right hand and palm sloped over left shoulder in left hand, resting left elbow on column, S-C across fields.
    References: RIC IV 842
    Size: 30mm, 18.3g
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
  13. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    I have always been fascinated by silphium - some notes below.
    The fruit was heart shaped - suitable for Valentine's Day


    Kyrenaika, Kyrene AR Didrachm. Koinon issue, circa 250 BC. Diademed head of Zeus Ammon right / Silphium plant with four leaves; ibex horn in upper left field, KOI-NON across fields. BMC 1; SNG Copenhagen 1275.sear 6332 7.81g, 21mm, 12h.

    Good Very Fine - exceptional for the issue. Fine style. Iridescent toning.

    Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 84, 20 May 2015, lot 757.

    Kyrene was founded in 631 BC by Dorian settlers from Thera and their leader Battos, as instructed by the Delphic oracle. Around a hundred years later as the city grew in prosperity to rival even Carthage, Kyrene began issuing silver coins of archaic style on small, thick modules. Virtually all of the coins of Kyrene display the badge of the city and the principal source of its wealth - the silphium plant.

    It was described as having a thick root, a stalk like fennel, large alternating leaves with leaflets like celery, spherical clusters of small yellow flowers at the top and broad leaf-like, heart-shaped fruit called phyllon. The plant was valued in ancient times because of its many uses as a food source, seasoning for food, and, most importantly, as a medication. Perfumes were made from the flowers, the stalk was used for food or fodder while the juice and root were used to make a variety of medical potions.

    Aside from its uses in Greco-Roman cooking (as in recipes by Apicius), the many medical applications of the plant included use to treat cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, aches and pains, warts, and it has even been speculated that the plant may also have functioned as a contraceptive, based partly on testimony from Pliny.

    The plant only grew along a narrow coastal area, about 125 by 35 miles. Much of the speculation about the cause of its extinction rests on a sudden demand for animals that grazed on the plant, for some supposed effect on the quality of the meat. Overgrazing combined with over harvesting and climate change led to its extinction. Pliny reported that the last known stalk of silphium found in Kyrenaika was given to the Emperor Nero as a curiosity. The city never recovered from the extinction of its principal export, and economic decline combined with a series of devastating earthquakes led to the abandonment of the city in the 4th Century AD.
  14. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  15. Alegandron

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

    Silphium seed all grown up...
    KYRENAICA Kyrene Æ25 9.6g 250 BCE Diademed Zeus-Ammon r - K-O-I-N-O-N; Silphium plant; monogram SNG Cop 1278 BMC 16-19
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