The Roman Empire

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About this journal

After decades on numismatic hiatus, I have re-kindled my childhood passion for collecting coins.  The resulting odyssey has been both unexpected and fascinating.  My newfound obsession is collecting ancient coinage.

 

I focused initially on ancient Greece, and examples can be found in my NGC Ancients Custom Set entitled "The Ancient World Collection." While I highly admire ancient Greek coinage for historical importance and artistic splendor, I found myself inexorably drawn to its successor. For the next two millennia, Rome and the autocracies she spawned (the Roman Empire, followed by the Byzantine Empire) dominated the Mediterranean-centric world, leaving behind a plethora of coinage for modern-day contemplation.  Thus, I began compiling a new NGC Ancient Custom Set, which I named "The Roman Empire."

 

Admittedly, some ancient coin collectors eschew the concept of slabbing their coins.  For myself, I appreciate the confirmation of attribution and condition, not to mention air-tight security.  I also enjoy the concept of a custom set, whose contents I control.  Above all, coin collecting should be fun and informative, and these aspects came together in a special way for me in this collection.  Rome's history seemingly demanded that I research each coin and provide a synopsis in its Owner's Comments section.  In more than a few instances, I used the opportunity to explore synergies with other personal interests, whether historical, geographical, scientific, etc.

 

Within its inaugural year (2014) the collection grew to over 100 specimens and was noted "Best Ancient Set," and within the last four years the set has grown to over 200 specimens.  In 2017, I was pleased to earn the honor of "Best Ancient Set" for a second time.  Given the effort I have invested into this set, and the recognition it has received, I decided to I launch this journal which, like my acquisition, research and Owner's Comments for each new coin, is subject to serendipity.

Entries in this journal

Rome's Most Famous Client King

Newly edited and re-posted Owner's Comments for an ancient bronze struck by Herod the Great, part of The Roman Empire, an NGC Ancients Custom Set.   Whether viewed as ruthless tyrant or resourceful visionary, the man known to history as Herod the Great (73 BC– 4 BC) served as one of the early Roman Empire’s most influential client rulers.  Never referred to as “the Great” in his own lifetime, Herod was apparently more popular with Romans than Judaeans.  In particular, Herod infamously

Kohaku

Kohaku

06/07/2019

Last Reply:
06/09/2019

A Most Iconic Ancient Coin

Newly edited and re-posted Owner's Comments for a legionary denarius struck by Marc Antony, part of The Roman Empire, an NGC Ancients Custom Set.   This ancient coin was struck by Marc Antony at Patrae (modern day Patras, Greece) circa 32-31 BC.  Antony produced millions of similar coins, all bearing the obverse image of a galley, and the reverse image of two military standards (signa or vexilla) on either side of an aquila military standard. The aquila, or eagle, represented the speci

Kohaku

Kohaku

06/04/2019

Last Reply:
06/07/2019

The First Living Roman Woman Depicted on Coinage

Newly edited and re-posted Owner's Comments for an ancient bronze depicting Octavia and Marc Antony, part of The Roman Empire, an NGC Ancients Custom Set.   The nexus of relationships to Octavia (69 – 11 BC) reads like a who’s who of the early Roman Empire: sister of Octavian (also known as Augustus), adoptive niece of Julius Caesar, grandmother of Emperor Claudius, and great-grandmother of Emperor Caligula, to name a few. Among all of Octavia’s relationships, perhaps most famous – or

Kohaku

Kohaku

05/30/2019

Last Reply:
06/07/2019

The First Living Roman Woman Depicted on Coinage?

Newly edited and re-posted Owner's Comments for an ancient quinarius depicting Fulvia as Victory , part of The Roman Empire, an NGC Ancients Custom Set.   Depending on the historical source, Fulvia (83? - 40 BC) was either the antithesis, or role model, of a Roman matron.  As sole survivor of a noble and deep-rooted clan, she coveted political status and power.  As such, and within the constraints of Rome’s male-dominated culture, Fulvia influenced many powerful men around her.  Like a

Kohaku

Kohaku

05/28/2019

The Triumvir Who Didn't Get No Respect

Newly edited and re-posted Owner's Comments for an ancient obol struck by Lepidus, part of The Roman Empire, an NGC Ancients Custom Set.   Participating in the Roman Empire’s genesis were many monumental figures of ancient history: Julius Caesar, his ally-turned-assassin Brutus, Pompey the Great, the famous lovers Marc Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian (a.k.a. Augustus), and then there is…Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (88? - 12? BC). If the name isn’t familiar, no wonder - Lepidus turned out th

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/28/2019

Last Reply:
03/31/2019

Rome's Second Most Famous Dictator

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient denarius struck by Lucius Cornelius Sulla,  part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   Julius Caesar may have been Rome’s most famous dictator, but he certainly wasn’t the first. Dozens held the title in the early Roman Republic, wielding varying degrees of absolute power, up until 202 BC. After that, the title was seemingly abandoned for more than a century, until someone rose up to claim it again: Lucius Corne

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/23/2019

Last Reply:
04/03/2019

Et Tu, KOSON?

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient Dacian/Thracian stater mimicking Brutus' designs,  part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   Marcus Junius Brutus (85 – 42 BC) was the son of Brutus the Elder and Servilia Caepionis. Servilia was also mistress to Julius Caesar, prompting uncertainty regarding Brutus’ true biological father. The young Brutus started his career working for his uncle, Cato the Younger. He later held important political posts and m

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/21/2019

Last Reply:
03/24/2019

The Coin That Killed Caesar

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient denarius struck by Julius Caesar when he reigned as Rome's Dictator for Life,  part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   The Coin That Killed Caesar is the dramatic epithet attached to denarii, such as this example, featuring a lifetime portrait of Julius Caesar.  Before that time, Rome’s coinage had never portrayed the face of a living Roman.  Beyond breaking from numismatic tradition, these coins also proclai

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/19/2019

Last Reply:
03/24/2019

The Elephant and the Snake

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient denarius struck by Julius Caesar,  part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   Ancient coins provide us with a palpable link to a specific time and place in history. Their wondrous, diverse iconography frequently epitomizes the setting in which they were struck. More than a means for exchanging goods and services, they publicized - and even influenced – the very course of ancient history. A notable example is thi

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/16/2019

Last Reply:
03/19/2019

Cicero and the Divine Bull

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient bronze featuring Deiotarus, King of Galatia, part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   In 3rd century BC, a conglomeration of Celtic tribes migrated from Europe into central Asia Minor, eventually founding their own realm of Galatia, the “land of the Gauls.” Due to their central location, Galatians factored in local power struggles, often opposing Rome. Of particular note was Manlius Vulso’s infamous 189 BC gen

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/12/2019

Last Reply:
03/14/2019

The Founding of Rome: The Tale of Romulus & Remus

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient denarius featuring Roma, Romulus and Remus, part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set... According to ancient mythology, the Trojan prince Paris presided as judge over which goddess was fairest: Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite. To aid the decision process, each deity paraded nude before him – inviting centuries of artistic interpretation – and offered the choice of an enticing bribe: world domination (Hera), military prowess

Kohaku

Kohaku

03/10/2019

Last Reply:
03/12/2019

Rome's Greatest General

Newly Edited and Re-Posted Owners Comments posted on an ancient bronze sestertius featuring Nero Claudius Drusus, part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   Even before he was born, Nero Claudius Drusus (38 – 9 BC) had already become somewhat of a celebrity. Also known as Drusus I or Drusus the Elder, he was born a mere three months after his mother, Livia Drusilla, married Octavian, who later emerged as Rome’s Augustus.  Presumably, the elder Drusus’ sire was Livia’s previo

Kohaku

Kohaku

02/28/2019

Last Reply:
03/01/2019

Italy's First King and the Bloody Banquet

New Owners Comments posted on an ancient bronze featuring Odovacar, part of the Roman Empire Custom NGC Ancients Set...   In 475 AD, the last official Western Roman Emperor, Julius Nepos, was forced to flee his throne amidst a rebellion led by his own magister militum, Orestes.  While the latter tried to promote his son, Romulus Augustulus, as the unofficial new Western Emperor, the Germanic mercenaries taking part in the rebellion had a different idea.  In 476 AD, those foederati, dis

Kohaku

Kohaku

02/27/2019

Last Reply:
02/28/2019

Thrasamund and the Vandal Renaissance

New Owners Comments posted regarding my 50 denarii coin featuring Vandal King Thrasamund...   Careful scholarship reveals that the ancient people known as the Vandals turned out to be quite civilized. As the Western Roman Empire dissolved, the Vandals were one of several successor tribes rising to prominence. During the reign of King Thrasamund (450-523 AD), the level of cultural sophistication achieved has even been described as a Vandal Renaissance. When his brother, King Gunthamu

Kohaku

Kohaku

02/22/2019

 

Epilogue to the Roman Empire

The latest update on my Roman Empire is that I added another Page (grouping of 15 coins).    This time, I added a new Page at the end, entitled "Epilogue", here is the synopsis..."After the deposition of the last claimant to Rome's throne, various successor states (e.g., Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Lombards) vie with Constantinople for dominion over the West."   I decided to add this Chapter after I learned more about what happened *after* the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  

Kohaku

Kohaku

11/30/2018

 

The tragic tale of Roman Empress Galeria Valeria

The latest update on my Roman Empire NGC Ancients Custom Set is that I finished and posted my Owner's Comments for my ancient bronze follis featuring Roman Empress Galeria Valeria.   For this essay, I spent some time researching what appears to be the most widely cited primary source of information on Valeria, a book called De Mortibus Persecutorum written in 4th century AD by the imperial advisor Lactantius.  Lactiantius' account is necessarily biased, yet even so provides some very i

Kohaku

Kohaku

09/23/2018

Last Reply:
07/26/2019

 

Owner's Comments posted for Gordian I Alexandrian tetradrachm

Just a quick note to say that I finally finished and posted Owner's Comments for my Alexandrian tetradrachm featuring Roman Emperor Gordian I.   Gordian I was an interesting fellow, one of richest and most learned of all Rome's  Emperors.  Gordian I rose to power in March 238 AD, a year that is infamously known to history as the Year of the Six Emperors.  He was eighty years old when he and his son took on the challenges to rule the Empire as co-Augusti.   Their reign lasted

Kohaku

Kohaku

09/04/2018

 

Update on Roman Empire collection, Page 10 = Crisis III

This Journal Entry provides an overview/update on Page 10 of my “Roman Empire” NGC Ancients custom (I previously have presented an overview/update on the first nine pages).  Like all the Pages of the collection, this one comprises 15 coins as presented in “Gallery Mode”.  The title for this Page, since it is third Page covering the Crisis of the Third Century is Crisis III.  The purpose of this overview/update is to not just to provide a brief description of each coin, but also some perspective

Kohaku

Kohaku

07/18/2018

Last Reply:
09/05/2018

 

My Latest Submission - the Results are In!

I finally received grading results for the my last submission of coins to NGC.   Drum roll, please .. . .  .  .   .   .   .   NGC Ancients cert # 4282892-001. Here is a link to the cert... https://www.ngccoin.com/certlookup/4282892-001/NGCAncients/ This coin is a nummus struck by Odoacer, King of Italy from 476 to 493 AD. This coin graded Ch XF, and I was extremely satisfied (dare I say surprised on the upside) with the grade. The strike and surface both earned

Kohaku

Kohaku

07/06/2018

Last Reply:
07/08/2018

 

The Goddess Mother, with Cornelia Supera

Another update...I just posted my latest Owner's Comments.  This time, the coin is an ancient Roman provincial bronze featuring the obverse bust of Empress Cornelia Supera, wife of Emperor Aemilian, who reigned only a few short months.  As such, Cornelia's coins, including this one, are all rare, and represent the only source of information about her.   The reverse features the goddess Cybele, and Anatolian goddess whose cult was adopted by Rome as a safeguard during the second Punic W

Kohaku

Kohaku

06/17/2018

 

Update to Roman Empire Page 9 (Crisis II) = Orbiana Denarius

The latest update on my NGC Ancients Custom Set entitled "The Roman Empire" is that I recently posted Owner's Comments for my denarius featuring Empress Orbiana, wife of Emperor Severus Alexander.     This coin is rare, with 14 examples mentioned in a seminal reference.  This specimen is in excellent state of preservation, NGC Ancients graded it as MS, Strike = 5/5, Surface = 3/5.      I had a bit of difficulty sorting through the information regarding Orbiana, since there is

Kohaku

Kohaku

05/27/2018

 

Update on Roman Empire, Page 6 Golden Age I, Marciana bronze featuring Pelops reverse

The latest update on the "Roman Empire" collection is that I finished and uploaded my Owner's Comments for my ancient bronze representing Marciana, sister of Emperor Trajan.   This particular coin features Pelops on the reverse, at least that is what the inscription and many sources lead me to believe, even if NGC provides the attribution with a question mark (admittedly, Pelops is usually depicted on a chariot, not on horseback).   In any case, the mythology surrounding Pelo

Kohaku

Kohaku

05/20/2018

 

Update on Roman Empire, Page 4 "Decadence" = Caligula bronze

The latest update to the my NGC Ancients Custom Set entitled "The Roman Empire" is that I finished and posted my Owner's Comments for my ancient bronze featuring the notorious Emperor Caligula.     While I don't want to go into the entirety of my comments, I will provide here an intriguing except...   In addition to scandalous accounts still sensationalized in modern media, Caligula left behind a rich and interesting coinage.  This bronze is of particular interest, contempora

Kohaku

Kohaku

05/10/2018

Last Reply:
05/20/2018

 

Latest round of Grading: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I just received my coins from my latest round of NGS ancient grading. These were received at NGC on March 5th, so the turnaround was slower than usual, I guess NGC is pretty busy?   In any case, here are the results...   4282124-001 Cornelia Supera bronze graded VF, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5 This one came out as I expected, and I am looking forward to writing my comments on this one, especially how the Romans worshipped Cybele.   4282124-002 Marcia

Kohaku

Kohaku

04/28/2018

Last Reply:
06/02/2018

 

New Owner's Comment, The Roman Empire, Page 4 "Decadence" = 3-Sisters Caligula Sestertius

I just added my latest Owner's Comments, in this case, the subject was my "3-sisters Caligula sestertius".  In particular, I used this slot within the Roman Empire to represent Julia Drusilla, widely described as Caligula's favorite sister.   There was a lot of interesting material to draw from for this essay, even if the ancient histories are rife with negative bias against Caligula.   As a teaser, I will paste here the first paragraph of my Owner's Comments...   This ancien

Kohaku

Kohaku

04/09/2018

Last Reply:
04/11/2018