Top 10 for 2022
"CXXXII. The offering is to be made in this way: Offer to Jupiter Dapalis a cup of wine of any size you wish, observing the day as a holiday for the oxen, the teamsters, and those who make the offering. In making the offering use this formula: “Jupiter Dapalis, forasmuch as it is fitting that a cup of wine be offered thee, in my house and in the midst of my people, for thy sacred feast; and to that end, be thou honoured by the offering of this food.” -Cato the Elder, On Agriculture, CXXXII
Marcius Porcius Cato describes this ritual of gratitude to Jupiter before the planting of millet, panic grass, garlic, and lentils. The Romans also celebrated the new vintage with Meditrinalia on October 11th.
"In the month of October, the Meditrinaliae ‘Festival of Meditrina’ was named from mederi ‘to be healed,’ because Flaccus the special priest of Mars used to say that on this day it was the practice to pour an offering of new and old wine to the god, and to taste of the same, for the purpose of being healed; which many are accustomed to do even now, when they say: Wine new and old I drink, of illness new and old I’m cured." -Varro, On the Latin Language
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, an opportunity to look back over the year with gratitude, and share a meal with family. At the end of a tumultuous year with many ups and downs, I am grateful to enjoy a reflection on the top 10 coins of 2022. Most of the coins come with a link to notes that the coin inspired and all offer time to reflect on history and our ancestors. Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.
Thrace, Thasos, AR Tetradrachm (32mm, 16.85g), circa 148-90/80 BC
Obv: Head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath
Rev: HPAKΛEOYΣ / ΣΩTHPOΣ / ΘAΣIΩN, Herakles standing left, holding club and lion skin, monogram to inner left
Ref: SNG Copenhagen 1046-8
Kings of Paeonia, Patraos, circa 335-315 BC, AR Tetradrachm (22mm, 12.72g, 11h). Obv: Laureate head of Apollo to right
Rev: ΠΑΤΡ[ΑΟΥ], Paeonian horseman, wearing crested helmet and full armor, galloping right and spearing fallen enemy; below to left, bucranium
Ref: Paeonian Hoard 334, SNG ANS 1030
Note: this particular coin with horse's head or bucranium behind the horse seems to be scare or rare (25 out of 750 coins on ACSearch)
#8 Roman Republican Bronze
This coin is from from the time of the second Punic War between Rome and Carthage. Although I like the weight of a Roman republican bronze, and the history that they are associated with, for the most part, I find Roman republican bronzes to be be pretty ugly. This coin raises my expectations for what and RR AE can be:
Anonymous, after 211 BC, Æ Semis (26mm, 14.60, 3h), Uncertain mint
Obv: Laureate head of Saturn right; S (mark of value) behind
Rev: Prow right; S (mark of value) above, ROMA below
Ref: Crawford 56/3; Sydenham 143
M. Aemilius Lepidus, 61 BC, AR Denarius, (17mm, 3.85g, 6h), Rome mint
Obv: Laureate and diademed female head (Roma? Venus?) right; wreath behind, calix before
Rev: Equestrian statue of M. Aemilius Lepidus right, holding trophy over shoulder, M. LEPIDVS in exergue
Ref: Crawford 419/1e; Sydenham 828a; Aemilia 21a.
#6 Seleucid Empire: Family Fights The remaining coins in this list could be rotated into any order. I think the portrait on this coin of Grypos with his prominent nose is exceptional.
The Seleucid Kings, Antiochus VIII Epiphanes, Grypus (Greek: Γρυπός, "hook-nose"), AD 121-96, Antiochia, Tetradrachm circa 109-96, AR 27.00 mm., 15.57 g.
Obv: Diademed head r. within fillet border
Rev: Zeus Nikephoros seated left; monogram in left field, all within wreath
Ref: SC 2309
This coin from Gaius Caecillius Q.f. Q.s (youngest son of Quintus, grandson of Quintus). Elephants on coins of Rome seems to attract extra attention, and this Roman coin with an elephant biga is quite popular. I find the helmet on the obverse with the squawking griffin to be equally interesting. The moneyer, Caius triumphed at the same time as his brother because of his successes in Sardinia:
"When Caius Caecilius Metellus and Cnaeus Carbo were consuls, the Metelli, two brothers, had triumphs on the same day, one for Sardinia, the other for Thrace; and news was brought to Rome, that the Cimbri had crossed from Gaul into Italy."-Eutropius 25.2
C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, 125 BC, AR Denarius (18mm, 3.8g), Rome
Obv: ROMA, helmeted head of Roma right
Rev: C METELLVS, Jupiter driving biga of elephants left; flying Victory above (off flan)
Ref: Crawford 269/1.
This second coin was minted by Marcus Caecilius Metellus, the older brother (third of four sons) to Gaius, celebrates his father's military success in the Fourth Macedonian War. Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, was the father of the moneyer, and Roman consul, 143 BC. The elephant's head on the shield recalls an earlier victory of his ancestor, L. Caecilius Metellus over Hasdrubal of Carthage at Panourmus in 250 BC. This Caecilius Metellus captured Hasdrubal's elephants in the First Punic War with Carthage (264-241 BC).
M. Caecilius Metellus Q.f. Q.n., AR denarius, 127 BC, Rome, 3.91g
Obv: Head of Roma right, without star on flap of helmet, ROMA downwards behind, X below chin.
Rev: M. METELLVS Q. F., around Macedonian shield on which elephant's head, all in laurel-wreath
Ref: Crawford 263/1b
#4 : Cistophoric Claudius
Claudius, AD 41-54, Ephesus, AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (26-28mm, 10.72g)
Obv: TI CLAVD CAES AVG, bare head left
Rev: Frontal view of the tetrastyle temple of Diana at Ephesus on a podium of four steps, her cult statue within with fillets hanging from her wrists and a polos on her head; pediment decorated with figures, DIAN-EPHE across fields
Ref: RIC 119; RPC 2222.
Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus, AD 253-268, Potin Tetradrachm (22mm, 11.17g, 12h), dated RY 15 (AD 267/268)
Obv: AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CЄB, laureate and cuirassed bust right
Rev: Poseidon standing left, right foot on dolphin, holding palm frond and trident; ЄI/L (date) to lower left, palm frond to right
Ref: Köln 2953; Dattari (Savio) 5259; K&G 90.108; Emmett 3827.15 (R3)
Milne discusses the type in 1917 as "It is worth noting that there is a very marked improvement in the design and execution of the coins of the last two years." and continues:
"From year 12 onwards the improvement in style is consistent, and by year 14 the mint had reached a higher artistic level than had been know for many years; in the next year the authorities evidently determined to abandon the old monotonous rotation of reverse types, and, besides reviving some which had been unused for a century (Canopus and Agathodaemon), and in addition modifying the attributes of such revivals (Poseidon and Hermes), they introduced two entirely novel types — the two Nikae holding a shield and Horus with a child." -Milne, 1917, The Alexandrian Coinage of the Eighth Year of Gallienus
I could easily be convinced that this coin should advance closer to #1.
"Poseidon (Neptune) was god of the sea. Nero used the bust type of Poseidon Isthmios, as a part of his "games series" of tetradrachms. Somewhat rarer coin types of Poseidon occur from time to time under Hadrian and the "adoptive emperors" until early in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. A brief revival occurs during the three year period which ended the reign of Gallienus and inaugurated that of Claudius II. These last are quite scarce." -James W. Curtis, Coinage of Egypt
Kings of Armenia, Tigranes II ‘the Great’, 95-56 BC, Tetradrachm, AR, 28.5mm, 15.66g, 1 h), Tigranocerta (literally meaning built by Tigranes), circa 80-68
Obv: Draped bust of Tigranes II to right, wearing five-pointed tiara decorated with comet star between two eagles
Rev: BAΣIΛEΩΣ - TIΓPANOY The Tyche of Tigranocerta seated right on rock, holding long palm frond in her right hand; below, river-god Araxes swimming right; on rock, monogram; in field to right, θ; all within wreath
Ref: Kovacs 74.2; Nercessian die study Group 2, A22
Note: a nice clear EF coin, pleasing toning, and good metal, with die break on obverse and double strike on reverse
Inevitably this coin makes the top spot. A coin from that turbulent period of Mark Antony and Octavian with Mark Anthony married to Octavia and just before the visit to Tarsus where he first met up with Cleopatra. I guess I am as susceptible as all other collectors to the attraction of the Republic's train wreck & the soap opera of Mark Antony's love life. I also like a good cistophoric tetradrachm, so this coin appeals to my interest in Asia Minor and this provincial currency.
The Triumvirs, Mark Antony and Octavia, Summer-autumn 39 BC, AR Cistophorus (11.58g, 27mm, 12h), Ephesus mint
Obv: M·ANTONIVS·IMP ·COS· DESIG·ITER ET·TERT, head of Antony right, wearing ivy wreath; lituus below; all within wreath of ivy and flowers
Rev: [III·VIR] – R·P.C., draped bust of Octavia right above cista mystica, flanked by interlaced serpents with heads erect
Ref: RSC 2; RPC I 2201