(Sulla80) Top 10 Coins for 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Nov 22, 2020.


Vote for your favorites (up to 3)

  1. 1 - Roma

  2. 2 - Mark Antony and Octavian

  3. 3 - Augustus, Tyche and Orontes

  4. 4 - A Decade of Gallienus

  5. 5 - Julius Caesar in Antioch

  6. 6 - Constantine VII, Born in the Purple

  7. 7 - The Homeland of Achilles

  8. 8 - Hadrian and Osiris

  9. 9 - Aristotle on Mytilene

  10. 10 - Flavian Dynasty

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  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-11-22_12-0-38.png While it is possible that one more coin might show up this year, it seems unlikely that I will displace any of the coins listed below, so I will post my 2020 list a bit early again this year. Perhaps I don't need to say it: this has not been a normal year, between virus, politics and more. Thankfully, vaccines are showing promise, and I will include in my Thanksgiving this year: gratitude, both for the miracles of modern science and medicine, and for everyone who has given of themselves this year to make the world a little better for others.

    In 2020, I enjoyed a virtual tour of the provinces, especially Asia minor, and dabbling in non-Roman coins. I feel a bit better educated or at least aware of the people, maps and leaders outside of ancient Rome. Last year, 7 of 10 of my top coins were from the Roman Republic. This year, only two that could (almost) be described as Roman republican made the list, although 7 of 10 can still be described as "Roman". Reviewing my ordered ranking, it does seem that my Roman republican interest is still visible.

    In the spirit of the year, my collection is now "virtual" with a blog where I am organizing my notes, references, and photos. Alexandrian Egypt under Roman rule is a growing group in my collection - catching up to Parthia as notable sub-collection.

    Although it ticked a lot of boxes, my most recent Dattari Plate coin didn't make the cut. I have added a few coins from that period of transition between Republic and Empire, and one Lycian coin, struck under the over-lordship of Julius Caesar, a Troxell plate coin, was a casualty of COVID-mail or the "curse of posting before it arrives".

    Knowledge, humor, coins and sometimes even wisdom shared in this forum have been a welcome distraction and source of entertainment over the year - thank you to the many contributors and experts.

    #10 Flavian Dynasty

    This coin shows Vespasian's sons on the reverse as he uses the coin to set expectations for a Flavian dynasty. The artistry of this denarius of Ephesus is the attraction of this coin, it is posted with a second one that almost made the list here.
    Vespasian Dynasty.jpg
    Vespasian, 69-79 AD, AR denarius, Ephesus mint, 71 AD
    Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P< Laureate head right
    Rev: LIBERI IMP AVG VESPAS, Titus and Domitian, each veiled, togate and holding a patera, standing facing heads left, EPE in exergue
    Ref: RIC II 1430 (Group 6)

    #9 Aristotle on Mytilene
    A small Greek coin from the 4th century BC. The history is the first draw and I don't have many gold/electrum coins or coins this old. More on the Aristotle connection here.
    Lesbos Mytilene.jpg
    Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377-326 BC, Electrum Hekte
    Obv: Head of Apollo wearing laurel wreath right
    Rev: Head of Artemis right, her hair in sphendone; snake symbol in left field

    #8 Hadrian and Osiris

    One of several Hadrians added this year - with an Imperial denarius near the transition of power and another Alexandrian tetradrachm, "Father of the Country", in the list. This coin was all about the reverse and Osiris Hydreios.
    Hadrian Canopic Jar.jpg
    Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138, BI Tetradrachm, dated RY 10 (AD 125/6)
    Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Canopus of Osiris (canopic jar) right; L ΔE-KATOV (date) around
    Ref: RPC III 5578; Dattari (Savio) 1325-6

    #7 The Homeland of Achilles
    A rare AE from Ekkara in Thessaly, dated to the end of the 4th century BC based on their style. Zeus on the coins of the Ekkarra is associated with the cult of Zeus in Thessaly. The reverse depicts Artemis Kynegetis, a type that is also known from statues. This was a fun coin to research and had a surprise provenance as a plate coin. More on this coin here.
    Ekkarra HD Blk.jpg
    Thessaly, Ekkarra, circa 325-320 BC, AE Chalkous
    Obv: Laurel-wreathed, head of Zeus to the left in a circle of dots. The head of the Zeus is compact with wide cheeks. The beard and hairstyle are cut in stiff lines, and the hair covers the nape of the neck, a wavy line. Details like the pupil can be seen on the eyebrowed eyes.
    Rev: ΕΚΚΑΡ / ΡΕΩΝ, downward, Artemis standing in between, in three-quarter view to the left. Her right leg is bent back. Her left arm rests on her hip, her right hand rests on a hunting lance, in the middle of which you can see a strap. Her hair is pinned up in a Lampadion knot and a bow and drapery appear on the nape of the neck, fastened crosswise in front of the chest with the shoulder strap. She is wearing a short sleeveless chiton (woolen tunic) and a himation (outer garment), and an endromides (cloak) lined with fur.

    #6 Constantine VII, Born in the Purple
    He was the illegitimate child of Leo VI however, his mother, Zoe, gave birth to him in the Purple Room of the imperial palace. Leo VI did marry Zoe after the birth of Constantine - but as his 4th marriage, this marriage was also of questionable legitimacy. This coin is issued by Constantine VII with his son Romanus II. This coin more enjoyable with the book recommendation from @Voulgaroktonou, "The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign" by Steven Runciman. More on this coin here.
    Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus.jpg
    Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, with son Romanus II. 913-959, AR Miliaresion, Constantinople mint. Struck 945-959
    Obv: IESuS xRIStVS nIcA, Cross-crosslet set on three steps; globus below
    Rev:+ COҺST’ τ’/ ΠORFVROG,/ CЄ ROmAҺO/ ЄҺ X’ω EVSEЬ’/ Ь’ RωmEOҺ in five lines Obv Translation: Jesus Christ Victor
    Rev Translation: Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Romanus, by the grace of Christ, Pius, Emperors of the Romans

    #5 Julius Caesar in Antioch

    Issued in the year before the assassination of Julius Caesar, this coin bears a date that recognizes the visit of Caesar to Antioch and the gift of "freedom" that he bestowed on the City. More on this coin, and the rebellion of Bassus in this blog post.
    Seleucid Julius Caesar Tet.jpg
    Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antiochia ad Orontem, Q. Caecilius Bassus, rebel governor, 46/5 BC, AR tetradrachm in the name of Philip I Philadelphos of Syria, recognizing the era of Julius Caesar, minted 46/5 BC, Year 4 of the Caesarean Era
    Obv: Diademed head of Philip I right
    Rev: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΦIΛIΠΠOV ΦIΛAΔEΛΦOV EΠIΦANOVΣ, Zeus seated on high-backed throne left, holding Nike on outstretched right hand and sceptre in left
    Size: 26mm, 15.55g
    Ref: Seleucid Coins (part 2) 2491

    #4 : A Decade of Gallienus

    The bulbous portrait, the chocolate patina, the weight of the tetradrachm in hand, the provenance of a Dattari plate coin, and the link to Gallienus' struggles with multiple usurpers, I like everything about this coin. Notes and more of my coins of Alexandria can be found in this blog post.
    Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus, 253-268 Tetradrachm circa 262-263 (year 10)
    Size: 23mm, 10.63g
    Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: ΔЄKA/ЄTHPI/CKV/PIOV in four lines within laurel wreath; below, L I
    Ref: Geissen 2915 (this coin cited) Dattari-Savio Pl. 272, 5273 (this coin the same coin that appears in Dattari's pencil rubbings, issued to celebrate Gallienus' tenth year of reign)

    #3 Augustus, Tyche and Orontes
    This coin of Augustus bears a date that Marks the battle of Actium, a portrait of the first emperor, and a reverse that I can't stop admiring.
    Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch, Augustus, 27 BC-AD 14, AR tetradrachm, dated year 30 of the Actian Era - dating from the Battle of Actium between Marc Antony and Augustus - and Cos. XIII (2/1 BC)
    Obv: ΚΑΙΣΑΡΟΣ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟY, laureate head right
    Rev: [ETOVΣ] Λ (Actian era date) NIKHΣ, Tyche seated right on rocky outcropping, holding palm frond; below, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right; in right field, monogram (=ΥΠΑTOY) and IΓ (consular iteration) above monogram (=ANTIOXIEΩN?)
    Ref: RPC I 4156, McAlee 185; Prieur 55

    #2 Mark Antony and Octavian

    The Second triumvirate a coin that is about 10 years before their showdown at the Battle of Actium (depicted in the opening image from Neroccio De' Landi & Workshop in AD 1475-1480) with Antony's death in Egypt following. A denarius from last year from the days before the formation of the second triumvirate is written up in here.
    Marc Antony Octavian.jpg
    Marcus Antonius with Octavianus and M. Barbatius, AR denarius, military mint moving with Mark Antony (Ephesus?), 41 BC
    Obv: M ANT IMP AVG III•VIR•R•P•C•M•BARBAT Q P , bare head of Mark Antony to right
    Rev: CAESAR•IMP•PONT•III•VIR•R•P•C•, bare head of Octavian to right
    Ref: Crawford 517/2, RBW 1798, Sydenham 1181
    Note: banker's mark on the reverse

    #1 Roma

    One of the most beautiful republican denarii, in my view, and more so for its anonymity in a sea of coins of self aggrandizement. The mysterious and unobtrusive graffito, ΚΛЄ on the obverse, does not detract. The imagery simple, iconic: Roma, peacefully absorbed with the scene of birds and the she-wolf suckling twins, a founding myth of Rome. More on this coin here.
    RR Seated Roma.jpg
    Anonymous, 115-114 BC, AR Denarius, Rome mint
    Obv: Helmeted head of Roma right wearing a winged Corinthian helmet, with curls on her left shoulder; X (mark of value) behind, border of dots
    Rev: Roma, wearing Corinthian helmet, seated right on pile of shields and a helmet beside, holding spear in left hand, birds in flight to upper left and right; to lower right, she-wolf standing right, head left, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus.
    Size: 3.8g, 18.5 mm
    Ref: Crawford 287/1

    A pretty eclectic set this year, ranging from 4th century BC to 10th century AD. Several coins linked to the end of the Roman Republic, a beautiful Roma with wolf and twins, a dynastic Vespasian from Ephesus, a Dattari plate coin, a rare provincial, a small gold/electrum coin, and a couple of Alexandrian tetradrachms....all interesting artifacts from an unprecedented year.

    Comments and corrections are always appreciated. Vote for up to 3 of your favorites, and/or post anything you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
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  3. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A wonderful group! It only let me vote for one, by the way.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    All of them are beautiful. I also was only able to choose one. I chose Hadrian but it was a tough call.
    John Conduitt and Sulla80 like this.
  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks - I modified the poll - it should work now :)
    DonnaML likes this.
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful acquisitions for your collection! All worthy of a number one spot!
    John Conduitt and Sulla80 like this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Amazing assembly of coins :woot:
    If I could have three:troll: I'd go with that stunning MA and Augustus, the lovely el with the Aristotle connection and then your stunning Hadrian and osiris:D Though, again, a truly dazzling:wideyed: group of coins:snaphappy: Thanks for sharing:)
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  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    It looks like you had a great year of collecting despite all the challenges we've all had, some fantastic coins hard to choose a favorite as all standout as top notch, but I can't go past your Vespasian with outstanding portrait. Congratulations.
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  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Difficult to choose, but I voted for Vespasian, MA/Octavian, and Roma.
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  10. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    I got to the bottom and thought - where's the rest of them? But there are 10, it was just fun reading about them all.

    None are in my area of collecting, although I have always coveted a Roma like yours. The Ekkara and the Constantine VII are interesting coins. For me, interesting often trumps beauty, but those look good too.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  11. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Great list @Sulla80 . I picked your Marcus Antonius / Octavian, Augustus Antioch tetradrachm and the Gallienus Alexandria coins as my favorite (2, 3 & 4).

    I also enjoy doing the poll with a pick three on my top lists going back to my first list in 2017. It's nice to see that all of your coins have received at least one vote! It is a very well balanced and considered 10. Great year for you all things considered.
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  12. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Super looking 10!......Congrats on a very fruitful year..
    I went for the Vespasian..Mark Antony and the Gallienus....But it was really difficult to pick just 3!
    Sulla80 likes this.
  13. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for posting the list, you're the first of hopefully many! And I underline your introduction, it's been a strange, uncomfortable and at times depressing year. But every now and then, a little light breaks through and we can again enjoy life and find pleasure in the good we encounter.

    Enough with the words, to the coin!

    My absolute fav is no. 10. What a beauty, and the posture of the sons on the reverse is very interesting. I also understand why you like your Roma coin. It has such a soothing obverse and especially reverse, I like to think that staring at this coin can take your mind of the less enjoyable things which actually makes it very fitting for these times. (And the circle is round :))
    Sulla80 likes this.
  14. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks, @John Conduitt, while I certainly look for both interesting and beautiful, choosing between the two, I agree with your priorities - the Ekkarra in particular was high on my list of interesting coin you don't see every day. Last year, my Himyarite Kingdom coin was one in this category - a coin where you have to learn a new alphabet is always fun.

    I agree, @Curtisimo, always fun to see how the votes compare with my original ranking.
    John Conduitt likes this.
  15. Romancollector

    Romancollector Well-Known Member

    @Sulla80 It looks like you've had a terrific collecting year! Congrats!!

    My personal favourite is the Flavian dynastic denarius. While the portrait is outstanding, I'm particularly drawn to the excellent reverse. I don't have a Vespasian from Ephesus, but I know they aren't the easiest to find in an excellent state of preservation such as yours, which is particularly scarce because of its reverse!!! Well done!
  16. Scipio

    Scipio Well-Known Member

    Wonderful coins! The anonymous denarius is gorgeous, and the graffiti on it adds enchantment! Who was Kleon? Maybe a greek slave, possibly an educated teacher, who left his signature on a hardly earned coin to avoid other slaves in the house can steel it... This is for me the most amazing part of the numismatics, history of people through millennia. The portrait of Roma in the reverse is unique, sitting on the shields and helmets of the enemies, wondering about the future because the germans are at the border and the auspices are uncertain (birds both from right and left).
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
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  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Sulla80, You did well this with a great variety of artistic coins :D! My 1st choice is #10 because of the stunning portrait & interesting reverse composition. The coin has little wear, is well centered, & has attractive toning :happy:. My 2nd choice is the Bassus Tet because of it's historical importance, excellent strike, & choice condition. My 3rd choice would be the Tet of Gallienus because of the excellent portrait, perfect centering, & choice condition. The link to Dattari makes this coin extra special too ;).
    Sulla80 likes this.
  18. Lolli

    Lolli Active Member

    Sure that the Gallienus is the coin from the book?
    The centering and flan shape seem pretty much different, look for example for the dotted border on the obverse and how much distance is there from dotted border to the end of planchet on obverse for example at 2-3 o´clock.

    Gallienus Dattari 5273.jpg
    ominus1, Broucheion and Bing like this.
  19. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Excellent selection. I voted #1, #6 and #9 in no particular order

    #1 because I love the type, which has been on my list for quite a while now
    #6 because it's completely out of my collecting areas, and I find the "calligraffic" design terrific
    #9 because I could sell a kidney for an hecte

    Sulla80 likes this.
  20. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Hi @Lolli, no doubt, any slight differences are an artifact of Dattari’s pencil rubbing technique.
  21. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Lolli, I think this is indeed the coin in Dattari's illustration, however, it's not a pencil sketch but a pencil rub. It looks like Dattari placed a piece of paper over the coin & rubbed the pencil over the paper. This would also account for the slight difference seen on the outer diameters compared to the beading on the coin.
    ominus1 and Sulla80 like this.
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