Apollo Galleries | The Numismatic Collection

Page 1

Apollo Galleries

Apollo Galleries

The Viking Collection

The Numismatic Collection

MARCH 2024
MARCH 2024

The Numismatic Collection

A Superb Array of Classical and Byzantine Coins

Apollo Galleries presents our exquisite Numismatic collection, featuring a range of gold, silver, and bronze coins from the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine world.

Highlights include a Philip II gold Stater dated 336-326 BC, a Galba gold Aureus dated AD 68-69, and a Vitellius and Lucius Vitellis gold Aureus dated AD 69.

All of the items listed in this catalogue are available for direct purchase. Please feel free to signal your interest through getting in contact with our Gallery team.

4 Content The Numismatic Collection Greek Roman Byzantine T&C 6-19 20-29 30-35 36-41 Ancient Coins & How to Date them 42

Book an Appointment

We are based in the heart of Bloomsbury, adjacent to the British Museum. You can book an appointment to meet with our Gallery team or our director Dr. Ivan Bonchev, by contacting us at:


+44 02072422771

Apollo Galleries, 25 Bury Place, WC1A 2JH Monday – Friday | 9:00 – 17:30

Private Sales Opportunites

We offer a bespoke Antiquities sourcing service for our clients, working closely with our stock team to match items from across the ancient world with their perfect home.

You can contact us via the email address above to enquire about our services.

Free Advice and Appraisal

We do not charge you for advice and appraisal. Please contact us with images of your collection and we will get back to you within 2-3 business days.

We accept payments in: US DOLLARS



No import taxes for most antiquities when sent to the USA. Packing and shipping is handled in-house by our professional white-glove team.


Greek Coins


Pella, Ca. 336-328 BC


Kingdom of Macedon, Philip II Av. stater, Pella, posthumous issue. Laureate head of Apollo right. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ; charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving biga right, trident, horizontal, below horses. LeRider Philip II 3.271. Size: 20mm; Weight: 8.61g.

The reverse of this coin features a spirited depiction of a charioteer and biga, alluding to Phillip II of Macedon’s victory in the chariot race at the Olympic games (Plut. Alex. 4.9). Phillip II was the first ruler of the Greek world to regularly issue gold coins, minting his first gold staters after the fall of Olynthus in 348 BC on the attic standard.

His son, Alexander the Great, succeeded him after his assassination in 336 BC and continued the production of these coins. This decision is as much practical as it is political, as continuation of a known type would help ensure that his own coins would be easily accepted.



Lampsakos, Ca. 323-316 BC


Kingdom of Macedon, Philip II Av. stater, Lampsakos, posthumous issue. Laureate head of Apollo right. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ; charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving biga right, reversed EK monogram to lower right, A with crescent above below, grain-ear in exergue. SNG ANS 290; Thompson, Philip 35; LeRider pl. 90, 9; ADM II Series VIII. Accompanied by original Spink label. Size: 19mm; Weight: 8.57g.


Colophon, Ca. 319-310 BC


Kingdom of Macedon, Antigonos I Monophthalmos, as Strategos of Asia Av. stater, Colophon. In the name & types of Alexander III. Head of Athena right wearing crested Corinthian helmet decorated with serpent. Rev. ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ; Nike standing left holding wreath & stylus, monograms in left field & below wing. Price 1792var. Sl edge graze in front of nose, practically as struck. Size: 19mm; Weight: 8.43g.



Pella, Ca. 340-328 BC


Kingdom of Macedon, Philip II Av. quarter stater, Pella. Head of Herakles right, in lionskin headdress. Rev. ΦIΛIΠΠOY between bow and club; trident left below. SNG ANS 224 var; LeRider 84. Size: 19mm; Weight: 2.13g.

Amphipolis, Ca. 330-320 BC


Alexander the Great Av. stater, Amphipolis. Head of Athena right wearing Corinthian helmet with crest. Rev. ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ; Nike standing left holding wreath in right hand, and stylus in her left hand, kantharos in left field. Price 168. Size: 18mm; Weight: 8.51g.



Babylon, Ca. 323-320 BC


Alexander the Great Av. stater, struck under Perdikkas. Helmeted head of Athena right; M to left. Rev. AΛEΞANΔΡOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ; Nike standing left; ΛY beneath left wing. Price 3691var (no bee). Accompanied by original Spink label. Size: 18mm; Weight: 8.57g.

The types of Alexander the Great continued to be struck long after his death at Babylon in 323 BC, superseding the Athenian tetradrachm as the international coinage of the Hellenistic world. This coin was minted under Perdikkas, the most powerful of Alexander’s successors upon the king’s death and the man responsible for the initial division of satrapies among the generals (Diod. 18.3).

In 323/2 BC Perdikkas began to court the Argead princess Cleopatra, despite being married to Nicaea (Diod.18.23). The latter was the daughter of the powerful general Antipater, and this slight catalysed the first war between the Successors. Perdikkas’ poor treatment of his troops on the campaign in Egypt let to a mutiny of his officers and his gruesome murder in 322/1 BC.



Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ca. 125-120 BC


Magnesia, Ionia Av. Stater. Euphemos, son of Pausanias, ‘magistrate’. Draped bust of Artemis right, bow and quiver behind shoulder. Rev. MAΓNHTΩN EYΦHMOΣ ΠAYΣANIOY above and beneath Nike, holding kentron and reins, driving fast biga right. Unpublished although several have been discovered since 2017. Size: 20mm; Weight: 8.54g.

Magnesia on the Meander was founded during the Archaic period and rose to prominence during the 2nd Century BC. Coins such as this extremely rare example are testament to the revival of the polis following the Peace of Apamea (188 BC). Other examples of this include the large, porticoed agora built by the Magnesians as a socio-political meeting space during this time.

The relatively recent discovery of this new reverse type was extremely important for our understanding of Ionian stephanophoric coinage. This coinage, now known to be minted in the mid-2nd Century BC, during a period of relative freedom for the Ionian city-states, is confirmed as such because the name of Euphemos appears both on this coin and Magnesia’s “wreath-bearer” tetradrachms.



Kroisos, Ca. 561-546 BC


Kingdom of Lydia, Kroisos Ar. 1/3 stater. Confronted foreparts of lion to right and bull to left. Rev. Two irregular incuse squares. GRPC Lydia S5; SNG Keckman 359; Boston MFA 2071; Warren 1291. Near Extremely Fine; a superb example. Size: 13mm; Weight: 3.44g.



Aegina Ar. stater. Tortoise seen from above. Rev. Large skew pattern incuse. SNG Lockett 1983; Dewing 1683; Boston, MFA 1116.; Milbank pl. 2, 12. Old cabinet tone, cleaning marks, otherwise Good Very fine. Size: 29.1mm; Weight: 17.06g.



Amphipolis, Ca. 323-281 BC


Lysimachos Ar. tetradrachm, Amphipolis. Diademed head of deified Alexander right, with horn of Ammon. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY; Athena seated right, holding Nike in her extended right hand and left resting on shield, spear leaning against the chair back. PMY monogram in inner left field, ΔI monogram in outer right field. T199. Size: 32mm; Weight: 15.52g.

Pella, Ca. 348-329 BC


Kingdom of Macedon, Philip II Ar. tetradrachm, Pella. Laureate head of Zeus to right. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ; Nude youth riding horse to right, reins in left hand, victory palm in right hand, bunch of grapes on a stem beneath the horse. LeRider Philip II 1.422. Size: 28mm; Weight: 14.5g.



Acanthus, Ca. 490-430 BC


Macedonia, Acanthus Ar. tetradrachm. Bull with head raised, crouching to left, attacked by lion leaping on its back to right, Above, Y. Rev. AKA – N – ΘIO – N around quadripartite square, all within incuse square. Boston 529 (these dies); Desneux 117. Lovely iridescent tone, Extremely Fine. Size: 24mm; Weight: 16.90g.

Acanthus was a Greek city-state founded in the 7th Century BC on the peninsula of Athos (Thuc. 4.84). The beautiful obverse design on this Early Classical issue has puzzled scholars for centuries. Markoe argues that the motif has Homeric origins, as heroes such as Agamemnon were likened to lions triumphing over their prey in the Iliad (Il. 11.113; 129). Others argue for a connection to Herakles, as there was a long history of Heraklean coin types at nearby settlements such as Abdera. These likely reference Herakles’ travels and heroic feats while in the area.



Syracuse, Ca. 460-450 BC


Sicily, Syracuse Ar. tetradrachm. Slow quadriga right, driven by charioteer standing, holding reins and kentron; above, Nike flying right and crowning horses; in exergue, sea-serpent right. Rev. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟ – Ν; Pearl diademed head of the nymph Arethusa right, wearing earring and necklace; surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise. McClean 2653 (these dies); SNG Copenhagen 642 (this obverse die); Boehringer 483. Lovely old cabinet tone, fine style and About Extremely Fine. Size: 26mm; Weight: 16.05g.

This coin is emblematic of the exceptional standard of Syracusan coin production in the 5th Century BC. Breaking away from the more stiff and stylised forms of the Archaic period, Sicily and especially Syracuse began producing coinage of extremely fine quality, rendering the head of Arethusa in an extremely lifelike manner. The quadriga reverse was invented by Syracusan die engravers and functioned as a marker for the tetradrachm denomination for the whole of Sicily.



Entella, Ca. 320/15-305/300 BC


Sicily, Entella Ar. tetradrachm - Punic Issues. Wreathed head of Arethusa left, 4 dolphins around. Rev. Head of horse left, palm tree to right, Punic legend below. gVF; HGC 2, 284. Rare. Size: 26mm; Weight: 17.23g.


Rhodes, Ca. 250-200 BC


Islands off Caria, Rhodes Ar. didrachm. Aristokritos, magistrate. Radiate head of Helios facing slightly right. Rev. R-O; rose with bud to right; aphlaston to left, ARISTOKRITOS above. Ashton 219; SNG Keckman 546; BMC 138. Accompanied by original Balwin’s label. Size: 20mm; Weight: 6.78g.


Syria, Ca. 246-226 BC


Seleucid Kingdom, Seleukos II Callinicus Ar. tetradrachm, Syria. Diademed head of Seleucus II right. Rev. BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ; Apollo standing left, testing arrow and resting elbow on tall tripod, AN monogram in outer right field. SC 727.2. Accompanied by original Spink label. Size: 31mm; Weight: 16.82g.

Laodicea ad Mare, Ca. 261-246 BC


Seleucid Kingdom, Antiochos II Ar. tetradrachm, Laodicea ad Mare. Beardless head of Herakles right wearing lion skin headdress. Rev. ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ; Zeus seated on high-backed throne left, holding eagle on outstretched right hand and sceptre in left. Dolphin in left field, AXP monogram below; AB monogram below throne. SC 576.6. Accompanied by original Baldwin’s label. Size: 31mm; Weight: 15.88g.


Maroneia, Ca. 188-45 BC


Thrace, Maroneia Ar. tetradrachm. Head of young Dionysus right, in mitre & wreathed with ivy. Rev. ΔIONYΣOY ΣΩTHΡOΣ MAΡΩNITΩN; young Dionysus standing left, holding grapes in right hand & narthex stalks in left, ΠEO monogram in inner left field, TPK monogram in outer right field. Sear SG 1253. Size: 32mm;

Weight: 16g.

Antioch, Ca. 168-164 BC


Antiochus IV Epiphanes Ar. tetradrachm, Antioch. Diademed head of Antiochus IV right, diadem ends adorned with stars Rev. BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ANTIOXΟΥ ΘEOY EΠIΦANOYΣ NIKHΦOPOY; Zeus seated on high-backed throne left, holding Nike on outstretched right hand and sceptre in left. E in outer left field. SC 1400e. Size: 30mm;

Weight: 16.54g.



Seleucia ad Tigrim, Ca. 123-88 BC


Parthian Kingdom, Mithradates II Ar. tetradrachm, Selucia ad Tigrim. Diademed and cuirassed bust left, long curly beard, dotted border. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ; archer seated right on omphalos, holding bow, palm branch in outer right field. Sellwood 24.3; Sear II 7365. Size: 31mm; Weight: 17.04g.


Olbia, Ca. 437-410 BC


Skythia, Olbia Cast Æ 40mm. Arich-, magistrate. Gorgoneion with protruding tongue. Rev. A-P-I-X within four spokes of wheel. SNG Moskau 402-13; SNG BM Black Sea 385-6; HGC 3.2, 1884. Size: 40mm; Weight: 29.17g.


Roman Coins


Rome, Ca. AD 68-69


Galba Av. aureus, Rome. IMP SER GALBA AVG; bare head right. Rev. SPQR/OB/CS in three lines in oak-wreath. RIC 164; Cohen 286; Sear 2093. Size: 20mm; Weight: 7.94g.

This extremely rare aureus depicts Servius Sulpicius Galba, one of Rome’s many emperors during the years AD 68-69. Galba was a successful imperial administrator until his troops in Hispania

Tarraconensis declared him the first Emperor outside of the Julio-Claudian family, a decision then ratified by the senate. The reverse inscription type on this coin is a frequent formula of the 1st Century AD, it reads “[Awarded by] the senate and the Roman people for saving citizens.”

Galba’s pragmatic yet ruthless administration made him unpopular, and he was killed in a conspiracy ordered by Otho on January 15th, AD 69.



Rome, Ca. AD 69


Vitellius and Lucius Vitellius Av. aureus, Rome. A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P; laureate head right. L VITELLIVS COS III CENSOR; Lucius Vitellus (the emperor’s father), togate, seated left on curule chair, holding branch and eagle-tipped sceptre. RIC 96; Hunter 12; Sear -. Size: 20mm; Weight: 7.15g.

Aulus Vitellius was a close friend of the Julio-Claudian emperors from Tiberius to Nero, holding various important posts such as the proconsulship of Africa. He was proclaimed emperor by his troops in Lower Germany in AD 69. A key player in the power struggle of that year, he was murdered by the Danubian legions loyal to Vespasian and his body was thrown into the Tiber.

The reverse of this rare coin commemorates Vitellius’ father, a distinguished magistrate and proxy head of state during Claudius’ expedition to Britain. His tenancy as three-times consul and censor are advertised by the legend, possibly as a source of legitimacy for Vitellius’ rule.



Rome, Ca. AD 241-243


Gordian III Av. aureus, Rome. IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG; laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right. Rev. SECVRITAS PVBLICA; Securitas seated left, holding sceptre and resting head on left hand. RIC IV-3 124; Cohen 339; Munich 184299. Size: 21mm; Weight: 6.29g.

Gordian III was proclaimed Caesar by the joint emperors Balbinus and Pupienus, rising quickly to the rank of Augustus following their murder through the support of the Praetorian guard. Ascending to the throne at 13 years old, Gordion III was the youngest Roman emperor to rule alone, a fact reflected in his clean-shaven appearance on this aureus.

He is also depicted cuirassed on the obverse, innkeeping with nearly all imperial coin portraiture of the 3rd century AD. This choice was perhaps in response to the military anarchy of the time but is underscored by Gordion III’s successful military campaigns, driving the Persians out of Mesopotamia in AD 242. Following this campaign, his coin portraits feature a bearded portrait.


Milarity mint, Ca. 49-48 BC


Julius Caesar Ar. denarius, military mint moving with Caesar in northern Italy. CAESAR in exergue, elephant right, trampling on serpent. Rev. Simpulum, sprinkler, axe and priest’s hat. RSC 49; Cr. 443/1; Syd 1006; BMCRR (Gaul) 27. Size: 20mm; Weight: 3.89g.

Sicily, Ca. 40 BC


Sextus Pompey Ar. denarius, Sicily. MAG PIVS IMP ITER; bare head of Pompey the Great right between lituus and capis. Rev. Neptune left, foot on prow, between brothers Anapias and Amphinomus, parents on their shoulders, PR’F above, CLAS ET OR’ / MARIT EX SC in exergue. Pompeia 27; Cr511/3a; Syd 1344. Size: 19mm; Weight: 3.7g.


Ephesus, Ca. 27 BC-AD 14


Octavian as Augustus Ar. cistophoric tetradrachm, Ephesus. IMP·CAE – SAR; Bare head right. Rev. AVGVSTVS; Capricorn right, head reverted, carrying cornucopia on its back; all within laurel wreath. C 16; BMC 696; Sutherland group V; RIC 477; CBN 916; RPC 2213. Extremely fine. Size: 26mm; Weight: 12.08g.


Octavian as Augustus Ar. cistophoric tetradrachm, Ephesus. IMP·CAE – SAR; Bare head right. Rev. AVGV – STVS; Six bunched corn ears. C 32. BMC 697; RIC 481; CBN 919; Sutherland Group VI; RPC 2214. Lightly toned and Extremely fine. Size: 26mm; Weight: 11.95g.



Rome, Ca. AD 37-41


Agrippina Senior Ae. sestertius, Rome, struck under Caligula. AGRIPPINA M F MAT C CAESARIS AVGVSTI; draped bust right, in hair in long plait. Rev. S P Q R above, MEMORIAE/AGRIPPINAE in two lines in left field, two mules drawing ornamented carpentum left. RIC 55 (Caligula); Choen 1; BMC 81; Sear 1827. Size: 36mm; Weight: 27.42g.

Agrippina the Elder was the wife of Germanicus Caesar and mother of Emperor Caligula. She was banished by Emperor Tiberius to Pandataria in AD 29, where she eventually died of starvation. This coin is an example of a major issue of sestertii under Caligula dedicated to his mother’s memory. The reverse bears the one of her posthumous honours, the cart that carried her image to the games in the Circus Maximus.



Lungdunum, Ca. AD 65


Nero Ae. sestertius, Lugdunum. Laureate head right, globe at point of bust. Rev. Triumphal arch surmounted by statue of emperor in quadriga accompanied by Pax and Victory; flanked by two soldiers, a nude, helmeted statue of Mars in side niche of arch, otherwise decorated with friezes of battle scenes. C 307; RIC 432. Lovely tiber tone, portrait of nice style and arch finely detailed, Very Fine/ Good Very Fine. Ex Glendining 2 October 1996, 38. Size: 32mm; Weight: 25.73g.

Nero is known among scholars for his innovative approach to coinage, for example his experimental issues of as and quadrans were struck from Orichalcum as well as copper. Nero’s architectural types were numerous and impeccably detailed, typically featuring his own public works such as the Macellum Magnum and the Janus Geminus. This reverse represents a triumphal arch that does not survive in the archaeological record but probably was erected to commemorate Corbulo’s victories in the East.


Rome, Ca. AD 37-41


Germanicus Ae. dupondius, Rome, struck under Caligula. GERMANICVS CAESAR; Germanicus in quadriga right. Rev. SIGNIS RECEPT DEVICTIS GERM S-C; Germanicus standing left, holding eagle-tipped sceptre. RIC 57 [Caligula]; Cohen 7; BMC 93; Sear 1820. Size: 29.8mm; Weight: 13.48g.



Nero Claudius Drusus Ae. sestertius, Rome. NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMANICVS IMP; bare head left. Rev. TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP; Claudius, togate, seated left on curule chair, holding branch; arms lying around; SC in exeurgue. RIC 93; Cohen 8; BMC 157; Sear 1896. Size: 34mm; Weight: 26.16g.


Lyons, Ca. AD 65


Nero Ae. sestertius, Lyons. NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P; laureate head right. Rev. IANVM CLVSIT PACE PR TERRA MARIQ PARTA; Temple of Janus with garlanded and closed doors. RIC 438; Cohen 146; Sear 1958. Size: 37mm; Weight: 21.20g.

Rome, Ca.



Hadrian Ae. sestertius, Rome. HADRIANVS AVG COS III PP; draped bust right. Rev. RESTITVTORI GALLIAE; Hadrian standing right, reaching out with right hand to Gaul seated left, SC in exergue. Cohen 1251; RIC 950. Size: 32mm; Weight: 25.36g.


Byzantine Coins


Constantinople, Ca. AD 491-518


Anastasius I Av. solidus, Constantinople. D N ANASTA-SIVS P P AVG; helmeted and cuirassed bust, three-quarters facing to right, holding spear over shoulder and shield decorated with horseman spearing a fallen enemy. Rev. VICTORI-A AVGGG; Victory standing left, holding staff surmounted by reversed Chi-Rho; star in left field; mintmark CONOB. DOC I 6 var. (officina); MIB 6; BN 8 var. (same); SB 4. Size: 21mm; Weight: 4.49g.

Flavius Anastasius, an Imperial official of the Emperor Zeno, ascended to the throne in AD 491 through marriage to Ariadne, the widow of his predecessor. In numismatic terms, Anastasius is most notable for his currency reform of AD 498. This included the introduction of the bronze follis and corresponding smaller denominations, which provided a convenient solution to the tiny and impractical bronze issues currently in circulation.

This reform retained the solidus, a gold denomination that was first issued by Constantine I. Solidi such as this example eventually became an international coinage, garnering acceptance and esteem from North Africa to China.



Constantinople, Ca. AD 441-450


Theodosius II Av. solidus, Constantinople. D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG; Helmeted, pearl-diademed and cuirassed bust facing three-quarters right, holding spear and shield with horseman and enemy motif. Rev. IMP XXXXII COS XVII P P; Constantinopolis enthroned left, holding sceptre and globus cruciger, left foot on prow, shield at her side. In left field, star and in exergue, COMOB. LRC 414; RIC 293. Minor scratches, otherwise Good Very fine. Size: 21mm; Weight: 4.24g.


Constantinople, Ca. AD 545-565


Justinian I Av. solidus, Constantinople. DN IVSTINI-ANVS PP AVG; Helmeted, pearl-diademed and cuirassed bust three-quarters facing, holding globus cruciger and shield with horseman and enemy motif. Rev. VICTORI-AAVCCC, office mark; Angel standing facing holding long cross and globus cruciger; in right field, star and in exergue, CONOB. DO 9; MIBE 7; Sear 140. Extremely fine. Size: 21mm; Weight: 4.45g.


Constantinople, Ca. AD 641-668


Constans II Av. solidus, Constantinople. DN CONSTANTINUS PP AVG; bust facing with long beard and moustache, wearing crown and chlamys, holding cross on globe. Rev. VICTORIA AVGU and officina letter; cross potent on three steps, mintmark CONOB. SB 956. Size: 19.4mm; Weight: 4.39g.



Constantine IV Av. solidus, Constantinople. P CONSTAN PS PP A; helmeted, cuirassed bust facing three-quarters right, with short beard, holding spear over right shoulder and shield with horseman motif, all of fine style. Rev. VICTORA AVGU and officina letter; cross potent on three steps; mintmark CONOB. DO 12, 14; Sear 1157. Size: 21mm; Weight: 4.46g.



Constantinople, Ca. AD 741-775


Constantine V Av. solidus, Constantinople. G N CONSTANTINU NC; crowned bust facing, with short beard, wearing chlamys, holding cross potent and akakia. Rev. G LE-ON PA MUL; crowned bust facing of Leo IV, with short beard, wearing chlamys, holding cross potent and akakia. DOC 1c; BN 5; SB 1550. Size: 20mm;

Weight: 4.46g.


Constantinople, Ca. AD 751-775


Constantine V and Leo IV Av. solidus, Constantinople. CONSTANTI[N]OS S LEON O NEOS; crowned facing busts of Constantine, with short beard, on left and Leo IV, unbearded, on right; each wearing crown and chlamys; dot between heads, cross above. Rev. G LE ON PA MU or MUL θ; crowned facing bust of Leo III, wearing loros and holding cross potent. DOC III 2c; BN 6-10; SB 1551. Size: 20mm; Weight: 4.38g.


Constantinople, Ca. AD 776-780


Leo IV and Constantine VI Av. solidus, Constantinople. LEON VS EGGON CONSTANTINOS O NEOS θ; crowned facing busts of Leo IV and Constantine VI, each wearing chlamys, dot between their heads, cross above. Rev. LEON PAPS CONSTANTINOS PATHR; crowned facing busts of Leo III and Constantine V, each wearing loros, dot between their heads, cross above. SB 1583; DOC III 1b. Size: 21mm; Weight: 4.4g.

Constantinople, Ca. AD 913-959


Constantine VII with Romanus I and Christ Av. solidus, Constantinople. +IhS XPS REX REGNANTIUM*; Christ nimbate, seated facing, raising right hand in benediction and holding book of gospel. Rev. ROMAn ET XPISTOFO’ AUGG b; facing busts of Romanus I with short beard and loros, on left, and Christ, beardless, with chlamys, on right, both crowned and holding long patriarchal cross between them. DO 7; Sear 1745. Size: 21mm;


Ancient Coins & How to Date Them

Coins were invented in Asia Minor at some point during the 7th Century BC. The earliest iterations of coinage constituted small lumps of electrum (an alloy of silver and gold) that were incised on one side and stamped with an incuse depression on the other. From the Lydian kingdom onwards we have been able to identify coinage with specific minting authorities, and we have been able to chart the development of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coinage with a high degree of specificity thanks to the work of hundreds of years of scholarship. With a particular focus on how to date various numismatic outputs, please find below a brief overview of the period.


Greek Coins

The Greeks of Asia Minor began to issue coins close to the time of their invention. This trend spread to the West in the 6th Century BC, with city-states such as Aegina, Athens and the colonies of Magna Graecia being some of the first to produce coins. Archaic period coinage is characterised by stiff yet beautifully styled obverse designs, and the use of a punched, incuse square on the reverse that becomes more elaborate over time. Many cities in the Archaic period chose obverse types that related to the identity of their states but were almost always embedded with religious significance. These include gods, natural features or in some cases puns on the name of the city – e.g. Selinus’ wild celery or selinon. Obverse designs such as Aegina’s turtle and Athens’ head of Athena survive well beyond this period.

The Classical period saw the introduction of more naturalistic, lifelike representations on the obverse designs of Greek coins, innkeeping with the stylistic changes occurring in other art forms like sculpture. The incuse square was replaced by proper reverse types on most coinages and in some areas, such as Sicily, die engravers reached a level of artistic brilliance that has been virtually unparalleled thereafter. Electrum remained in use amongst the Greeks of Asia Minor, while most of the other states favoured silver for the bulk of their currency production. The Sicilians began to use bronze currency for small, everyday transactions in the mid-5th Century BC, an innovation which spread to most of the Greek world by the end of the 4th Century BC.

The issues of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic kings at the close of the 4th Century BC mark a shift in the priorities of Greek coinage. Broadly speaking, output declines in quality as coinage becomes mass-produced on a scale never before seen in the ancient world. City-state coinage continues and indeed enjoys a revival in the 2nd Century BC, but the most consequential development in this period is the introduction of royal portraiture onto coinage. This is treated differently by each kingdom, the Ptolemies preferring to use Ptolemy I’s profile on many of their coins, while the Seleucids opted for a perfectly linear series of portraits that depict every king in the dynasty. The religious symbolism so prominent in the Archaic period becomes relegated to the reverse of the coin, which often features the tutelary deity of the respective Hellenistic kingdom. The Seleucids and Ptolemies also begin to mark the year of issue on coins during the 2nd Century BC, making royal coinage considerably easier to date.


Roman Coins

Coin legends, changes in material, and changes in denomination form additional dating criteria that allow us to place Roman coinage with added specificity, without relying exclusively on Imperial reigns. Gold coinage, such as the aureus, was seldom used in the Republic until the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, when it became increasingly issued by the Second Trumvirate and their opponents. Octavian’s issues following his triumph in the Second Civil War brought gold coinage into regular circulation. The aureus, the staple gold coin of the Empire, was replaced by Constantine I with the solidus in the early 4th Century AD.

Bronze coinage was similarly irregular in the Republic but was also systemised by Octavian in 18 BC during his reorganisation of the currency system, reviving the sesertii as a large brass denomination and introducing large-scale production of the copper as.

The defining denomination of the Roman Republic and Empire was the denarius, a silver coin which was invented in the closing years of the Second Punic War (Ca. 211 BC) and remained in use until the 3rd Century AD. The denarius remained strong until 64 BC, when Nero reduced its weight and fineness. This process was continued by other emperors in response to economic need until, by the early 3rd Century BC, the coin only had a 40% silver content. It was replaced by the antoninianus, a coin introduced by Caracalla that can be differentiated from the denarius through the obverse, as the emperor is always shown with a radiate crown instead of a laurel wreath. In response to the socio-political crises of the 3rd Century AD, the antoninianus too became increasingly debased until it barely contained any silver at all. The coinage reforms of Aurelian (Ca. AD 273) and Diocletian (AD 294) attempted to restore faith in Roman currency, reintroducing the denarius and the latter inventing the new siliqua and follis denominations, but these attempts were ultimately unsuccessful.

Roman Imperial coins can also be dated with remarkable specificity through analysis of the coin legends. These vary depending on the coin and in the case of empresses, such telling inscriptions are mostly absent. One of the most useful formulas to look for, however, is T R P, Tribunicia Potestas or “Tribunician Power”. This title relates to a long-standing and eminent Republican office, the Tribune of the Plebs. The bestowal of this office upon the emperor became customary from the 1st Century AD onwards, and it was a common method of reckoning the years of one’s reign, tracking the date via the symbolic annual renewal of these powers. Other important inscriptions for dating include IMP (Imperator), which is used as a title but can often appear on coinage in correspondence with a specific military victory, and P F (Pius Felix, “dutiful, happy”), a moniker preceding Augustus on coinage that was used from the mid 3rd Century to 5th Century AD.


Byzantine Coins

Anastasius I’s reform of the currency system in AD 498 retained the solidus, semessis, tremessis, and miniscule copper nummus and instituted new denominations, such as the follis. This policy is generally taken as the beginning of Byzantine coinage. Byzantine coin types are exceedingly varied, but their types generally fall into the category of ruler representations, religious images, or functional types i.e. marks of value. Focussing on solidi from the 5th to 10th Centuries AD, one can chart the changes in the stylistic development of these types to broadly date said coins.

For example, the more naturalistic, ¾ busts of emperors from the 5th Century AD eventually gave way to the more idealised, frontal obverse portraits of the 6th Century AD. The reverse design featuring Victoria was also gradually evolved into an Archangel, with other common reverses including the seated personification of Constantinople preferred by Justin II, and the cross potent on steps of Tiberius II. This cross was believed to initially symbolise the large bejewelled cross erected by Theodosius II at Golgotha.

The 7th Century AD saw the introduction of more individualised, personal obverse portraiture. Beginning with Phocas, coinage comes to reflect the changes in the emperor’s appearance as he ages. Constans II for example is initially depicted as a young boy on coins but is eventually portrayed with a huge, long beard. Along with this, the preference for military dress, which had existed since the 4th Century AD, gradually declined until disappearing completely under the Isaurians, only reviving 300 years later. Heirs to the throne were also more commonly portrayed on 7th Century issues, as coinage took on the added significance as propaganda advertising dynasty. The cross potent on steps was universally employed by the ruling Heracleian dynasty during this time.

The Iconoclast emperors of the 8th Century AD preferred a very linear style of portraiture, devoid of any hint of individuality apart from the occasional inclusion of a beard to designate a senior emperor. The theme of dynastic representation continues here, as the family name was increasingly added to the legend of the coin and the cross reverse was replaced by various portraits of the emperor’s successors and ancestors. These portraits were differentiated according to status within the family. The semessis and tremessis were also discontinued during this time, along with the AVG legend; which was replaced by equivalent Greek terms.

The final major change to imperial coin iconography during this period came after the restoration of image worship under Michael III in the mid 9th Century AD. He reinstituted the image of Christ on Byzantine coinage, as seen on the obverses of Justinian I. Christ became prominent on coinage of this period, either as a seated figure or as a bust. Additionally, the portraiture of the emperor and his family remained rather linear up until the end of the 10th Century AD. Some specific instances of individualised portraiture during this time can be found on the coinage of Constantine VII.

For additional information, see:

Kallet, L. & Kroll, J.H., 2020, The Athenian Empire: Using Coins as Sources. Cambridge.

Grierson, P., 1999, Byzantine Coinage (2nd ed.), Washington.

Grierson, P., Bellinger, A. R., Hendy, M. F., 1966-1999, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (5 vols.), Washington.

Heckel, W., 2006, Who’s who in the age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander’s empire. Oxford.

Raymond. D., 1953. Macedonian Regal Coinage to 413 BC. New York: American Numismatic Society.

Sear, D. R., 1978, Greek Coins and Their Values Volume 1: Europe. Spink Books.

-------1988, Roman Coins and Their Values Volume 1: The Republic and the Twelve Caesars, 280 BC - AD 96. London.

Thonemann, P., 2016. The Hellenistic World: Using Coins as Sources. Cambridge.


Terms & Conditions Apollo Galleries LTD


We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer care to all of our clients. If you have any inquiries regarding the items, our team will be happy to guide you through every step of the way. We strive to ensure that every customer has a smooth and enjoyable experience. In addition, we value feedback from our customers and are always looking for ways to improve our services. If you have any suggestions or comments, please do not hesitate to let us know.


At our gallery, we take privacy and safety very seriously. We understand the importance of protecting our clients’ personal and financial information, as well as ensuring that all transactions are secure and confidential. We have implemented industry-leading security measures to safeguard your data and prevent unauthorised access. Our website is encrypted with advanced SSL technology, which ensures that all sensitive information is transmitted securely over the internet. In addition, we adhere to strict privacy policies and will never share your information with any third parties without your consent. We also require all of our employees to adhere to strict confidentiality agreements to protect your information. When it comes to the physical safety of our clients, we maintain a secure and controlled environment at our gallery. Our premises are equipped with surveillance cameras to ensure the safety of our clients and their property.

We understand that privacy and safety are of utmost importance to our clients, and we are committed to providing a secure and trustworthy experience. If you have any questions or concerns about our privacy and safety policies, please do not hesitate to contact us.


We want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase, and we understand that there may be circumstances where you need to return an item.


If you receive an item that is not as described, you may return it to us for a refund. However, please note that we only accept returns if there is substantial proof provided by a certified expert that the item is not as described. To initiate a return, please follow these steps:

- Contact us within 7 days of receiving the item to notify us that you would like to return it.

- Provide us with substantial proof from a certified expert that the item is not as described.

- Pack the item securely in its original packaging, if possible, and ship it back to us.

- Once we receive the item and verify that it is not as described, we will issue a refund to you. Please note that shipping and handling fees are non-refundable.


We will issue a refund for the full purchase price of the item, including any applicable taxes, once we have received the item and verified that it is not as described.

Please note that it may take several days for your refund to appear on your credit card statement, depending on your bank’s processing time.

If you have any questions about our return and refund policy, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for choosing our gallery for your purchase.


Thank you for shopping with the gallery. We aim to provide you with a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Please read the following shipping information to ensure that your order is delivered to you promptly and safely.

Processing Time:

Once you have placed your order, we will process it within 1-2 business days. During high-demand periods, processing may take longer.

Shipping Options:

We offer several shipping options for your convenience. You can select your preferred shipping method during checkout. The shipping options available may vary depending on your location.

Shipping Rates:

The shipping rates for your order will depend on the shipping method you select and the destination of your package. Shipping rates will be calculated and displayed at checkout.

Delivery Time:

The delivery time for your order will depend on the shipping method you select and the destination of your package. We aim to deliver all orders within the estimated delivery time provided, but please note that delivery times may vary due to factors beyond our control.

International Shipping:

We offer international shipping to select countries. Please note that additional customs fees, taxes, and duties may be applied by your country’s customs agency. These fees are the responsibility of the customer and are not included in the shipping charges.

Tracking Your Order:

Once your order has been shipped, we will provide you with a tracking number via email. You can use this tracking number to track your package online.

If you have any questions about our shipping information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for choosing our gallery for your purchase.

PAYMENT METHODS - Credit / Debit Cards - PayPal - Offline Payments

Collection Curated by Dr. Ivan Bonchev

Margherita Gorini

Gallery Administration

Margherita Gorini

Ella Wakefield

Catalogue Design

Margherita Gorini

Ella Wakefield


Margherita Gorini

Kiah Tao

Ancient Coins & How to Date Them

Ella Wakefield


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.