Preston and I had a great day at the Baltimore Coin Show on Saturday. Preston got a few dozen coins (he scoured almost every bargain bin on the floor to find gems) and some interesting paper “fractional currency”. I spent the time looking at and trying to narrow down the ancient coin choices.

I didn’t have a “want list”, and I haven’t specialized yet (and probably never will), other than “Greek and Roman”. So, I just walked around and looked at the (ancient) coins on offer. I started with the returning dealers I had purchased from previously. I noted which coins were possibilities, and continued the circuit before buying anything. Sure, in doing things that way there is always the chance that a coin you like is sold before you get back, but I would rather that happen vs. paying too much or getting a lesser specimen. I ended up only getting 6 coins. Opted for quality vs. quantity. And, luckily, none of the coins were sold out from under me :)

Athens. Ar tetradrachm. 353-294 BC. Rev. Owl standing, olive sprig. AOEThe Athens owl is my first owl. Great example of the type, though it is a more “modern” example (from around 300 BC) than the typical Athens owl (from ~450 BC). You can also tell it is more recent as the obverse with the head of Athena is looking straight ahead. More “archaic” styles have Athena looking “out”. Regardless, still a nice piece. It is thick and heavy (~17g). Additional history: it is from the lifetime of Aristotle. Cool!

Macedon (Roman Occupation) Ar Tetradrachm, 158-150 BC.. Obv. Head of Artemis at center of Macedonian shield. Amphipolis mint.
The Macedonian tetradrachm immediately caught my eye; it is a large coin (~30mm) with a beautiful portrait of Artemis (Diana). It still amazes me that you can hold a piece of art 2150 years old. Compare it with the Peace dollar (only 90 years old).

Tiberius, 14-37 AD. Ar Denarius. "Tribute Penny" of the Bible. Obv. Laureate head right.

The Tiberius is hard to find (at a reasonable price), as this is most likely the “Tribute Penny” from the New Testament, where Jesus asks to be shown a “penny” (“denarion” in Greek, so most historians assume “denarius” as this is) and then after asking who is portrayed (Tiberius as Caesar), says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.

Persia, Artabanus II, Parthian Kingdom, 10-38 AD.. Obv. King's bust left square cut beard, straight, earring visible

I didn’t have any ancient Persian coins, and these looked interesting. There was a sign on a box: “any coin, $25.00”. Persia, Phraates IV, Parthian Kingdom, 38-2 BC.. Obv. Diademed bust left

So, naturally, I dug in and found some 2000 year old pieces of history. They are a bit scratched up, but: 2000 years old. Someday I will lookup who kings Artabanus and Phraates were.

1926-S Peace DollarThe Peace dollar was a last minute grab to fill a hole in my set.

I also picked up a few more volumes (there are 10 to date) of the Handbook of Greek Coinage.

Already looking forward to the next Baltimore show (in June, I believe). This show (it goes on 3 times a year) is basically the only venue I have within a reasonable distance for seeing/acquiring ancient coins. I can (and do) buy online, but it is much more satisfying to find coins in person. At such shows you also get to discus the coins (and the hobby in general) with the dealers. You learn quite a lot about the various coins, and even more history.

Plus, I can spend the day doing it with Preston, and then go have dinner together. Bonus.

Went back and re-photographed the first few lots of ancient coins we acquired. Enjoy!

Received some “new” ancient coins today. Preston was already in bed by the time I got home from work, so he hasn’t even seen these yet! I used the rest of the evening to photograph the coins. They range in size from ~38mm down to a tiny ~12mm (from Corinth, c. 300 B.C.).

Preston was looking forward to the HUGE bronze Ptolemy – 43g, and almost the size of an American Silver Eagle – and from around 240 B.C.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom coin (Ptolemy III) was minted in Alexandria, Egypt over 2200 years ago. As Cleopatra was Ptolemy VII, this was a few generations before her. Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. He promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.

The next coin is from King Philip II of Macedonia. Philip II became the ruler of all Greece when he defeated the Athenians at the Battle of Chaeroneia in 338 B.C. Philip personally selected the design of his coins. His horse, on the reverse of this coin, won a race in the Olympic Games in 356 B.C., the year his son Alexander the Great was born. His son was a wee bit successful: conquered most of the known world before he died young at 33.

Following is a little critter from Corinth. I couldn’t resist a piece of history, 2300 years old, for $25.00. Found at Halos in southeastern Thessaly in 1994.

The last two coins are Roman: Caracalla and Aurelian.

Annona (reverse of Caracalla) was worshipped in Rome as the goddess who prospered the year’s supply of grain. She was represented on an altar in the capitol. The three principal granaries of Rome were Sicily, Egypt, and the African provinces. Annona civilis was the grain which was purchased each year by the Roman state, then imported and put into storage, reserved and distributed for the subsistence of the people. Annona militaris was grain appropriated for the use of an army during a campaign.

In 274, Rome greeted Aurelian as Restitutor Orbis (“Restorer of the World”) and accorded him a magnificent triumph (victory procession), which was graced by his captives Tetricus I and his son Tetricus II. Aurelian’s conquests of the Palmyran Empire and the Gallic Empire reunited the Roman Empire.

This coin is very rare; none of the reference books have this combination of obverse and reverse. Neat!

It never ceases to thrill – touching an object that was in circulation a couple of THOUSAND years ago.

I have a lot more pictures from our day on Block Island, RI in August. However this one was just used for his birthday invites and I kinda like it:

Preston finding Treasures on Block Island

Preston finding Treasures on Block Island

This year was easiest yet. Amazingly, before and after the “shoot”, Olivia was running around all over the place like a skittish rabbit. But for the fewer than 10 minutes I took pictures everyone was calm! Wonderful. Setup was simply putting PJ’s on the kids and putting a chair in front of the tree. I used an external off-camera flash sitting on the kitchen divider with a diffuser.

The only complaints were from Preston, and were along the lines of “Hey, tell her not to kiss me again!” (which resulted in another kiss) or “She’s hugging my neck!”

One of the shots I turned off the flash control by mistake – and that was quite nice of just Olivia, with flattering outdoor light streaming in the sliding glass doors to everyone’s right side. I turned the flash back on and took another. I liked the no-flash one.

I’ll let you figure out which of the pictures below was NOT used on the card this year…

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