ValiantKnight's Top 10 (actually 11) Favorites of 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ValiantKnight, Jan 17, 2021.


Pick your favorite of my 2020 list

This poll will close on Mar 18, 2021 at 5:26 PM.
  1. 10. Ptolemy II from Sicily

  2. 9. Athens AR drachm

  3. 8. Augustus Lugdunum AR denarius

  4. 7. Irene & Constantine VI follis

  5. 6. Ptolemy X AR tetradrachm

  6. 5. Antiochus VII AR didrachm

  7. 4. Marcian AV solidus

  8. 3. John VII AR stavraton and half-stavraton

  9. 2. Cleopatra AE 40 drachmae

  10. 1. Theodahad AR half-siliqua

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    I had planned on posting my favorites of 2020 list in December, but the busyness of work and the holidays prevented me from creating it until just recently. At least it gave time for one of my overseas purchases to arrive and be included on the list. I didn’t really keep track of how many coins I bought in 2020; I’d say it feels like I might have bought less compared to 2019, since it was initially somewhat difficult to come up with a full list of 10. Despite this, I feel that several milestones were made. All of the coins in my list are significant to me on a historical, collecting, and/or a personal level. Thanks for looking and enjoy!

    10) Ptolemy II, Ptolemaic Kingdom
    AE diobol
    Obv: Laureate head of Zeus right, within dotted border
    Rev: ΠTOΛEMAIOY-BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, with wings spread, oval shield to left
    Mint: Syracuse (struck by Hieron II of Sicily)
    Date: 275-246 BC
    Ref: Svoronos 610


    I picked this one up as part of my ongoing efforts to expand my Ptolemaic sub-collection. It is just an attractive coin all around: great portrait, well-styled eagle, sand in just the right places to bring out the design, and free of any major defects. What makes this Ptolemy II diobol type particularly interesting is that it was not struck in Egypt or any other territory administered by the Ptolemies; it was actually struck in Sicily by King Hieron II. According to’s page on these, mine is part of a subgroup whose examples were nearly all found in eastern Sicily. These Sicilian-minted bronzes reflect the relationship between the early Ptolemaic kings and Sicily, which is expanded upon here, along with several theories on why these coins were minted.

    9) Attica, Athens
    AR drachm
    Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right
    Rev: Owl standing right, head facing, olive sprig to left, crescent behind, AΘE to right, all within incuse square
    Date: 454-404 BC
    Ref: Sear SG 2527


    I guess sometimes I just feel the need to challenge myself. After I acquired my Athens tetradrachm almost a couple of years back, I decided that I wanted to try and obtain its fractional denominations such as the obol and drachm, since they do not come up for sale as often as the tetradrachms. I managed to do so in 2020 by obtaining this neat, little drachm. I can tell that it definitely did its duty in circulation!

    8) Augustus, Roman Empire
    AR denarius
    Obv: CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE, laureate head right.
    Rev: C L CAESARES AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT, Gaius and Lucius Caesars standing facing, shields and spears between them; simpulum and lituus above; X below.
    Mint: Lugdunum
    Ref: RIC I 212; Lyon 86; RSC 43d.


    This was not something I had been actively looking for at the time (similarly to some of the other coins on this list), but on my mental “to obtain eventually” list I was hoping to get an Augustus coin with an attractive and realistic portrait, one that resembled the various marble busts I have seen of Augustus. I have had a couple of Augustus coins in the past, but I was never truly satisfied with them. This Lugdunum denarius popped up in one of John Anthony’s auctions last year, and when I saw the wonderful portrait it had, I knew I had to win it. It is also an ex @Sallent collection coin, so I was glad to be able to keep it “in the family” :D.

    7) Irene and Constantine VI, Byzantine Empire
    AE follis
    Obv: Facing bust of Irene, wearing crown and loros, holding globus cruciger and cruciform sceptre
    Rev: Facing bust of Constantine VI, beardless, wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger, two pellets to left, cross to right, all above horzontal bar, large M below flanked by X and N (partly off-flan)
    Mint: Constantinople
    Date: 792-797 AD
    Ref: SB 1598


    Another notable ruler I had been on the lookout for: Byzantine empress Irene. It is very fortunate that the corrosion was kept away from most of Irene’s profile. But as a sort of weird and morbid joke by the coin gods, her co-ruler and son Constantine VI’s face on the portrait is disfigured, just as he was in real life when he was maimed by eye-gouging on Irene’s orders. She then became the sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire, something a woman had not achieved before. The Pope in Rome, Leo III, did not believe that a woman was capable of being emperor, and in response he crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800. Irene was also important in ending iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire through the convening of the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

    6) Ptolemy X, Ptolemaic Kingdom
    AR tetradrachm
    Obv: Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, aegis tied around neck; dotted border
    Rev: ΠTOΛEMAIOY-BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle with closed wings standing left on thunderbolt; L IΞ (17=regnal year) to left, ΠA to right
    Mint: Alexandria
    Date: 91 BC
    Ref: Svoronos 1677


    Even before deciding in 2020 to dedicate myself to Ptolemaic coinage, a nice, problem-free, and affordable later Ptolemaic tetradrachm was on my list. Examples that I have had before were way overcleaned or off-center. I won this in the latest Frank Robinson auction, my first ever win from him. It is just very slightly overcleaned but it is not distracting at all, and I imagine this how it might have resembled several years or decades after it was struck. Apart from a tiny portion of the top of Ptolemy’s head, all the devices are on flan, notable the reverse legends. Many Ptolemaic tetradrachms have the legends off-flan, worn, or badly-struck. Currently I’m keeping it out and exposed to the air and light sources, and when I put it away, I keep it in the paper envelope it came in, so that it can hopefully pick up some toning, which it has already started to obtain as evidenced by the tinges of gold around some of the reverse devices (hardly visible in the photo).

    5) Antiochus VII, Seleucid Kingdom
    AR didrachm
    Obv: Diademed head of Antiochus right, within dotted border
    Rev: ANTIOXOY-BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, palm over shoulder, A/PE above monogram of Tyre above club, ςOP (date) to right, monogram between legs
    Mint: Tyre
    Date: 137-136 BC
    Ref: SC 2110.4a. HGC 9


    There is not any deep reason why I bought this one. I was looking for and comparing Ptolemaic didrachms for sale when I came across this particular didrachm. It is Seleucid and of Antiochus VII but had been misattributed as Ptolemaic by the seller. I was cool with the price and I liked how it looked so I thought “might as well” :D . I will also say, though, that its made me a bit more interested in the relations between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms and I wouldn’t mind expanding my collecting to include Seleucid rulers that were particularly intertwined with the Ptolemies. I ended up also buying an actual Ptolemaic didrachm as my first 2021 purchase, but that one I will post when it arrives.

    4) Marcian, Eastern Roman Empire
    AV solidus
    Obv: D N MARCIA-NVS P F AVG, diademed, helmeted and cuirassed three-quarter facing bust, holding spear over shoulder and shield decorated with horseman
    Rev: VICTORI-A AVGGG, Victory standing left, holding long jeweled cross, star in right field
    Mint: Constantinople
    Mintmark: CONOB
    Date: 450-457 AD
    Ref: RIC 510
    Size: 4.46 gr., 21 mm


    I found this solidus browsing the For Sale section of a CT ancients member. I have a bit of a fondness for Emperor Marcian since he was the first late Roman ruler I got a monogram coin of years back when I decided to make 5th century Roman one of my collecting focuses. Marcian is somewhat scarcer in gold compared to other emperors like Leo I and Theodosius II, and it was being offered at what I thought was a lower price than other similar examples I have seen before, so I decided to go for it. This solidus was probably kept out of the Huns’ hands; Marcian managed to find the courage that his predecessor Theodosius II never could and ended Theodosius’s annual gold payments to the Huns. Adding to this nice, diplomatic middle-finger to Attila, he offered “iron” by way of war instead.

    3) John VIII Palaiologos, Byzantine Empire
    AR stavraton
    Obv: IC-XC, Facing bust of Christ, surrounded by eight dots
    Rev: IWANHC DECPOTIC O PALEOLOGOC QV XAPITI AVTOKPATOP in two lines around nimbate facing bust of the emperor, dot to left and right
    Mint: Constantinople
    Date: 1425-1448
    Ref: SB 2563
    Size: 6.66 gr.

    John VIII Palaiologos, Byzantine Empire
    AR half-stavraton
    Obv: IC-XC, Facing bust of Christ
    Rev: IWANHC DECPOTIC Q PALEOLOGOC, nimbate facing bust of the emperor
    Mint: Constantinople
    Date: 1425-1448
    Ref: SB 2565
    Size: 3.3 gr.


    I do not really collect Byzantine after the 12th century (although I am open to having them in my collection), but I was interested in obtaining any coin that was relatively close to the 1453 Fall of Constantinople which marks the final end of the Roman Empire. This interest was an outgrowth of my fascination with the history of (and coinage related to) the fall of the Western Roman Empire. A coin of the final Byzantine/Eastern Roman emperor Constantine XI is out of the question due to rarity and price, so I felt content to at least obtain a coin of his immediate predecessor (and brother), John VIII, who ruled in the last few decades of the empire in the early-to-mid 15th century. Funny enough, what motivated me to actively search for one was watching the Turkish docudrama Rise of Empires: Ottomans on Netflix. I thought I was good with just the larger stavraton, but I had soon after found for sale the attractive half-stavraton (from a different source), and I gave in and bought it as well.

    2) Cleopatra VII, Ptolemaic Kingdom
    AE 40 drachmae
    Obv: Diademed & draped bust right
    Rev: Eagle standing left on thunderbolt, cornucopiae in left field, M (40) in right field
    Mint: Alexandria
    Date: 51-30 BC
    Ref: Svoronos 1872


    Another coin that I found by chance, this bronze 40 drachmae of the Cleopatra. I seem to not be able to help myself when I come across affordable coins of famous/significant rulers that are usually expensive. On top of this, I am fascinated by the Ptolemaic Kingdom and its history (see a pattern here? :D). What also helped my decision to purchase it was a 10% off special Forum Ancient Coins had going on at the time :D . Retrospectively it was a smart decision on my part, since it was recently that I decided to make Ptolemaic coins a focus of my collecting.

    1) Theodahad, Ostrogothic Kingdom
    AR half-siliqua
    Obv: D N IVSTI-NIAN AC, diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Monogram THEODAHATVS within wreath
    Mint: Ravenna
    Date: 534-536 AD
    Ref: Metlich 61; MIB 55b; Ranieri 287


    While searching auctions around a couple of months back for Ptolemaic coins to add to my collection, I figured I would also check to see if there were any early Germanic kingdoms coins that I thought I’d have a chance to win. That is when I saw (and later won) this wonderful and very rare half-siliqua of Ostrogothic king Theodahad, which was minted in Ravenna between 534-536 AD. Justinian is depicted on the obverse, while Theodahad’s monogram is on the reverse. Ostrogothic coinage (especially the gold and silver coins) often had the Byzantine emperor on the obverse to recognize their preeminence over the Ostrogothic king, and the fact that the Ostrogoths technically ruled Italy in the name of the Byzantine emperor (but in practice ruled independently). Theodahad’s only notable event during his reign was his coup against his co-ruler and queen regnant Amalasuntha, whom he had imprisoned. She was of a pro-Roman faction that Theodahad was opposed to. It is not known if he ordered it personally, but her assassination in 535 occurred under his watch shortly after. This event gave a pretext for Justinian to start the Gothic War, with the intention of conquering Italy. I’ve always had a passion for the Germanic kingdoms, especially the Ostrogoths, and this and the fact that it is very rare makes it my #1 favorite on my list.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @ValiantKnight, I had to go for the John VIII ones. But only because you're only letting us pick one! Those are particularly great for how much of the legends they have.
    But I also thought that the Athenian archaic drachm is no less so, for being so unmistakably what it is, despite the amount of honest, pleasingly even wear. Betting that if I'd seen it, I'd've tried for it, as a first representative of the issue.
    Ditto for your Cleopatra AE --the profile works exactly the same way as your Athenian drachm.
    ...The details about your collecting process are great, generally. To quote the film version of A Man For All Seasons, "Your taste in music is excellent! It exactly coincides with my own!" (Here's what I could find on YouTube; that line happens about a minute into this clip: )
    Another resonant demonstration of that is your solidus of Marcian --sounds like you slid into home with that one, given prevailing price trajectories. Your historical context for it --of which I was completely innocent (snort)-- is especially cool.
    ...But all of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid ones are Seriously Solid. --Really liking how early the Ptolemy II one is.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
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  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I like John the 8. Those very late byzantine coins always reminded me of that robot thing from the Day the Earth Stood Still
    ValiantKnight and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    V.K., Great selection of interesting coins :D! The Marcian solidus stands out among the 10 coins :cool:. The Augustus denarius follows closely behind it & the Antiochus dated didrachm takes a solid 3rd place :happy:. Despite the corrosion I like the small Irene bronze ;). I've been on the hunt for a choice solidus of Irene, but the cost of a choice coin is staggering :(.
    ValiantKnight and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  6. Alegandron

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

    All very cool, @ValiantKnight ! You always seem to capture the tough to find ones! Well done.

    I was lucky and was able to snare THIS ONE from you, when you were expanding and upgrading your collection. Tough one to get, and I am glad it was available from you. Very cool coin in my collection now:

    Johannes, Western Roman usurper (ruled 423-425 AD)
    AE4, Nummus
    Obv: DN IOHANN-ES PF AVG, pearl-diademed, draped bust right
    Rev: SALVS REI-PVBLICAE, Victory holding trophy and dragging captive, Chi-Rho to left
    RM in ex, Rome mint
    Ref: RIC X 1913
    Ex: @ValiantKnight
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I think they're all great, but my favorite is the beautiful Augustus denarius.
    ValiantKnight likes this.
  8. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    So much to like @ValiantKnight. If I have to choose just one, the Ptolemy 10 is very nice.
    ValiantKnight likes this.
  9. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I love the darkly toned didrachm (that's what I voted for), but also the solidus and the Augustus denarius. And I can't fault you for choosing the Theodahad as #1!

    I don't yet have a photo of the Justinian Rome half follis I got from you last year, or I would drop it in. So instead I'll contribute my own solidus from around the same time, a Leo I:

    Screen Shot 2021-01-17 at 8.37.47 PM.jpg

    I still have hopes of posting my top 10, so hopefully you won't be the last one...
  10. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent Augustus! I think the Cleo VII was a great score as well.
  11. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Nice coins all. I voted for the Athens drachm because I like the drachm denomination of these and this one has a lot going for it. Nice surfaces, reasonably good centering and honest circulation wear to go with a bit of toning. Good list.
    ValiantKnight likes this.
  12. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Although all are nice/interesting items, and particularily the Augustus denarius, I think your #1 deserves being #1 knowing your taste for ostrogothic coinage : that's a milestone for sure, well done !

    ValiantKnight and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  13. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Thanks everyone for the comments! And great coins posted!
    Appreciate the kind words Vgo Dvcks. Even though I have collecting areas that I focus on, I still see myself as somewhat eclectic in that I will wander off the path sometimes by picking up things that interest me that are outside of those areas.
    Certainly a nice coin for the type, especially since a good part of IOANNES is still there and a lot of these little SALVS types have the name completely off-flan making ID difficult (since Theo II also had this same type struck for him at Rome). I believe you also have a Justinian follis with yellow sand patina that I used to own (mentioning this in case you’d want to add some owner history to it for your records).
    Looking forward to seeing you post the half-follis! And an awesome Leo solidus you have there, especially the portrait!
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  14. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    A really great list @ValiantKnight

    My faves are the Athens obol and the cleo.
  15. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Well your taste coincides with mine! That is one of my favourite movies of all time. It is a great story and the acting is simply fabulous. If you have not read the play please do so it is excellent. Robert Bolt chose the title with great care are it can be read in 2 ways. A man for all seasons could be a strong man who will not change no matter what, or it could be the man who changes with each season. The title is meant to capture the dilemma that Thomas Moore faced.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  16. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    The name of the robot is Gort. The original film from 1951 is absolutely brilliant. I shall leave you with "Klaatu barada nikto"
    +VGO.DVCKS and hotwheelsearl like this.
  17. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...Jolt of recognition! Where that one '70's, ingrownedly-progressive rock band got its name from.
    ...The kind of thing that got Johnny Rotten so p-ssed (...'off,' an Americanism; never mind the other kind) about what he referred to as "Hippies."
    ...I learn something new every day here --regardless of the operative time zone!
  18. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    All really nice coins and a nice mix!!....Very difficult to pick a favourite but went for the Cleopatra, a tough one to acquire at an affordable price...
  19. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

  20. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    great coins, thanks for sharing.
  21. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

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