Unknown Greek (?) AE - I'm Stumped - Shield/Guy with Wreath

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I am working through a large collection of ancients (and having a blast). So far so good, but this one really has me stumped.

    Sorry about the photos, but this seems to be the best I can do. It is 17 mm and weighs 4.31 grams.

    Obverse: Round thing (shield?) in wreath (?). Dotted border, what looks like an E

    Reverse: Bearded guy (?) in military attire and "eastern" crown (?) striding left holding scepter(?) and wreath. RE - (Δ?)-Θ (theta). I can't make out any other letters. Unidentified object right - bungled caduceus or lobster?

    Unknown - AE shield wreath DS Jan 2020 (0).jpg

    It vaguely looks like a Koinon of Macedon issue, but only vaguely. I'm stumped. Any help greatly appreciated.
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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...looks like a fun coin.. maybe a shield boss on the obverse..
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  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Intriguing coin... could the reverse be Victory/Nike? (With the apparent beard just be due to corrosion?) Also, do I see an A before the RE on the reverse?

    My first thought was Spain, but the delta on the reverse is problematic for that idea...
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  5. Xodus

    Xodus Well-Known Member

    I'm stumped on this one too. I see some letters in a half-circle (which seems odd for a greek coin)
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  6. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Hmm. My first thoughts are Eastern-- Kushan; the style of the standing figure looks like some Kushan styles and some of those coins have Greek legends, or Bosporan.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    I can see why you you thought it was a type of Macedonian shield.
    Here's the Jewish version that most resembles yours... Though I don't think that's it.
    Judaea. Mint in Samaria (Sebaste?). Herodians. Herod I (the Great) 40-4 BCE.
    Four Prutot Æ
    Macedonian shield with decorated rim / BAΣIΛEΩΣ HPΩΔOY L Γ, crested helmet.
    20 mm., 3.81 g.
    fine. Ex: Savoca
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  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your help with this puzzling coin. As TIF suggests, I think I'm going to drift Eastward in my searches, out in the Greek-ish hinterlands.

    I guess I am somewhat happy that unlike my usual query posts, I wasn't stumped by something easy!
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  9. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Oooo. Thank you, arnoldoe - that really shares some similarities to mine - all that stuff around the central shield/boss. Mine is not very clear, but I think I see a sword/dagger at least.

    I sent an email to Kwinto Coins in an effort to pursue this Bosporus angle further. That site is quite useful for Black Sea area coins: http://www.kwinto-coins.com/

    I feel I'm getting warmer. Thanks again for the suggestion.
  11. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Well, the mystery continues. I contacted Andrzej at http://www.kwinto-coins.com/ and be provided a very courteous and detailed response to this coin. He also corrected my photo so that things are shown right-side up:

    Uknown Bosporus Coin - Kwinto orientation correction.jpg

    He said it was okay to publish his reply:

    I attached a proper orientation of the coin. On the obverse (or reverse - hard to say), I see a shield in the middle with a spear going behind it. If I am not mistaken there is a partially visible letter M and H at the bottom of the shield. There is a sword (I think) at the bottom right. I can not clearly identify other attributes (like helmet or head in a helmet, horse, or axe, etc.) - either there were not part of the coin or are worn out. The reverse (or obverse - again hard to say) shows Nike holding wreath and palm advancing left. The most puzzling thing is the inscription to the left - I can't identify it or attribute it in any way (I am not sure what are the actual letters and their meaning?). I think there were letters all around the rim but unfortunately they are off the flan and worn out.

    It is a very puzzling coin. I think that it may be a coin of one of the following rulers of the Kingdom of Bosporus either Sauromates I, Kotys II, or Rhometealces - refer to my website:
    These rulers used all the mentioned attributes on their coins.

    Other puzzling things are the combination of the obverse and reverse (unknown to me) and the weight and size of your coin (17mm and 4.31 g). All the coins of the mentioned rulers were a lot bigger (around 24- 25mm and 7-11 grams). It could be a smaller denomination but I have neither encountered actual specimen nor seen any like this in know to me catalogs.

    Another option could be a contemporary barbaric imitation of any of the rulers coins (however the detailed wreath that Nike holds suggests to me that it may not be the case).

    Andrzej (Kwinto)

    What a nice guy! I am always touched when strangers will go to such lengths to help out with an ancient coin - a pretty cool bunch of collectors, I'd say.

    Again, I highly recommend Andrzej's site - the Black Sea area material there is extensive and interesting.
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  12. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    At 3:00 on the obverse (in the new photo) there is some green substance. Is it soft and powdery or hard, like an encrustation. If it is powdery, you have a problem--bronze disease--that you need to address right away. It's easy to cure, but you don't want to leave it untreated because it will damage your coin.
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  13. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thanks for pointing this out, gsimonel. I noticed it, and it has been of concern to me, but at the present, it seems hard and not powdery, although the color is alarming. I'm going to keep an eye on it and nervously apply first aid as required.
  14. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    This coin confuses me. The reverse, with the standing wreath-bearer, looks Eastern. Kushan or Parthian, but not exactly.

    Round shields are a feature of the edges of the Roman world. Not just the Bosporan Kingdom, but Spain and North Africa.

    Could it be an overstrike?
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  15. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

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  16. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you Ed & Arnoldoe - an overstrike is a definite possibility - it might explain the weirdness of the coin, and why it matches nothing in particular.

    The Macedon angle is certainly a possibility - it was the first approach I made because I thought I was reading that on the inscription, and the shield. But the reverse shield looked like nothing from Macedon I could find - and with the scattering of stuff around it (I see a sword), it looks more Bosporean.

    Still stumped, in other words. But like in baseball, there's no crying in ancient coin collecting, so I am trying to keep a stiff upper lip.
    Bing likes this.
  17. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Well, Arnoldoe, Andrzej is beginning to think along the Macedonian Koinon lines for this coin as noted in your post. Here is the latest:


    I opened Coin Talk about your mysterious coin and saw a reference to Macedonian coinage.

    I got intrigued by that.

    Even though there is some resemblance to Kingdom of Bosporus coins, your coin is most likely some variant of a Roman Provincial coin from Koinon. I found one on Vcoins. Take a look:


    The legend (if correctly deciphered) may also suggest it.

    Here are other coins from Koinon:


    If you wish you can post my thoughts on Coin Talk


    Again, thanks to all who have helped me out on this.
  18. Andrzej

    Andrzej New Member

    Hello all,
    Mike persuaded me to join the club. So, here I am.
    He just posted some of my thoughts about this coin.
    After looking carefully at the details - even though some are hard to see - especially that puzzling inscription, I am more inclined towards Macedonian (most likely Koinon Roman Provincial issue) rather than a Kingdom of Bosporus specimen.
  19. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Always glad to increase the collective intelligence of this group... And look at more coins!
    I have a hard time seeing a Koinon here. Unless, as previously stated, it was some kind of cross cultural ancient mule.
    Ala something like:

    Do we have any Koinon examples sans obverese portrait?
    Ps, love that Avatar coin of yours. I've been on the hunt for a while now but only have the beardless Jr version:
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  20. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    upload_2020-2-1_10-39-17.png Reve
    Reverse matches this type, shied in the middle with a ring around it and a a wreath around the shield, with a dotted boarder, but this one says Macedon around the reverse instead of obverse
  21. Andrzej

    Andrzej New Member

    Ryro, Arnoldoe,
    I could not find a match that would have such inscriptions where the Nike is. I do not think that this coin is ancient cross cultural mule. I am inclined to Roman Provincial coin from Macedonia. Is it exactly from Koinon - that can of course be questionable. However, as a collector of Pantikapaion and Kingdom of Bosporus coins, I came across many types that have never been previously described in any known to me catalog (even Russian catalogs - that are more extensive than English catalogs from this region). If you visit my site (http://www.kwinto-coins.com/) you will find many new types discovered in the last 5-10 years from this area. I even have examples (unearthed and sent from Crimea and neighboring areas) that do not have any known to me duplicates (at least for the present time)
    So, returning to this coin - perhaps this is a new type of Roman Provincial coin from Macedonia that have recently surfaced, have not been published and doesn't have duplicate yet.
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