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 Ptolemybronze.com’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” . 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” . 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? ). What also helped my decision to purchase it was a 10% off special Forum Ancient Coins had going on at the time . 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.