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  1. Mokiechan, For me, it really makes the coin come alive when I learn more about the historical context. I am in the process of going through my entire collection and doing some additional research/revision all of my Owner's Comments. So I'm kind of in "re-discovery" mode. Those that I think are most interesting for others to read about, those I am posting here in my journal, and I truly appreciate your feedback. Thanks!
  2. 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 exploited resources at his disposal to carry out grandiose architectural projects that rivaled, or even exceeded, Rome. Herod’s mother was Cypros, a Nabatean. His father, Antipater, and his grandfather, Antipas, served as advisors to the Hasmonean monarchs, who, in turn, served as Rome’s clients following Pompey’s Judaean conquest in 63 BC. After Pompey’s demise, Antipater allied with Julius Caesar, coming to the latter’s rescue during the 47 BC siege of Alexandria. Thusly was the way paved for Herod, through an intricate series of politico-military maneuvers, to eventually usurp Judaea’s throne. Supported by Rome’s triumvirate, particularly Marc Antony, the Senate declared Herod as king in 40 BC. After three years of civil conflict, Herod emerged victorious, and cemented his position by banishing his current wife and son (Doris and Antipater, respectively) in order to wed the Hasmonean princess Mariamne. Such marital re-arrangement for political gain was not unusual. Indeed, in this respect Herod borrowed from the practices of Rome's aristocracy. Also mimicking his Roman patrons, Herod apparently gave no quarter to those with perceived disloyalty. Among his first decrees was the execution of dozens of Judaean councilmen who supported his Hasmonean predecessors. Most notorious was the biblical account of Herod’s “slaughter of the innocents,” although that atrocity was likely apocryphal. Herod’s paranoia did not exclude his own kin; reportedly, his suspicions prompted the execution of his wife and his two sons she bore him. Augustus opined that “it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son,” referencing his client king’s refusal to consume pork in adherence with Judaean custom (although Herod reportedly disregarded many other religious laws and customs). Like Augustus, Herod earned fame for colossal building projects. Most renown was a massive expansion of Jerusalem’s Temple. Herod also created a new port, Caesarea Maritima, employing cutting-edge technologies. He set multiple new records in ancient construction, including the world’s largest palace (Herodium) and the longest building (the stoa on the Temple Mount). Herod even erected some pagan cities, such as Sebaste. His pathological distrusts led him to erect several mountain fortresses connecting his realm to Nabataea, serving as palatial resort getaways. His numerous building projects, both within his own territory and abroad, included gymnasia (e.g., Ptolemais), marketplaces (e.g., Tyre), theatres (e.g.,Damascus), aqueducts (e.g., Laodicea ad Mare) and baths (e.g, Ashqelon). Herod’s gargantuan construction projects required commensurate resources. Not to mention that the Jewish king boasted a lavish court, and sponsored Olympic games throughout the Hellenistic world. To support such expenditures, Herod taxed his subjects rather aggressively. He also struck coins that conveniently generated a profit since their worth exceeded the value of their metal content. This ancient bronze provides an example. Its denomination is 2-prutot (Herod also issued 1-, 4-, and 8-prutot coins). The obverse depicts a diadem, a gold band or ribbon worn symbolically by kings, signifying their status. The diadem surrounds a symbol that is often referred to as a cross. More precisely, the cross represents the Greek letter chi, associated with the anointment of Judaea’s high priest. Interestingly, Herod was Judaea’s first king lacking the qualifications to serve as high priest. He was not born of a priestly family, but rather one that recently converted to Judaism. In this case, the obverse imagery of chi within a diadem advertised King Herod’s control over the Temple via selection of its high priest. The coin’s reverse is equally interesting, featuring a flat object on a tripod table flanked by palm leaves. Such tables were part of the furnishings of Jerusalem’s Temple. The table represented on this coin is consistent with the silver table holding the service vessels for religious ceremonies. As such, this table was especially sacred. Herod’s decision to depict this particular table, despite the Judaean decree forbidding such a depiction, was likely intended to commemorate, or otherwise draw attention to, the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Herod struck coins as Judaea’s ruler up until his death in 4 BC, an impressively long tenure. Even at the end, the monarch’s mania manifested. Herod captured several innocent, distinguished men, and ordered their deaths after his own demise, thusly ensuring his subjects’ mourning. Although Herod’s heirs did not carry out that final decree, the king’s intent reflects his relationship with his subjects. To this day, Herod’s legacy remains suspect, comprising equal elements of tyranny and grandeur, as befits the most famous of all the Roman Empire’s client kings. Additional Reading: Guide to Biblical Coins, D. Hendin, Amphora Press, 2010 (5th Edition). Coin Details: JUDAEA, Herodian Kingdom, Herod I, 40 BC - 4 BC, AE 2 prutot (18.08 mm, 3.37 g), Jerusalem mint, NGC Grade: F, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 3/5, Obverse: Cross within closed diadem, HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Reverse: tripod table, flat object (vessel) upon it, flanked by palm branches, References: Hendin 1178; Meshorer TJC 48; RPC 4905; ex. David Hendin.
  3. What beautiful toning, thanks for posting!
  4. What also is interesting is that apparently there are also examples of the reverse. For instance, a lot of argentei struck by Diocletion as part of his coinage reform have survived in very high uncirculated condition. The reason why so many high quality examples have survived is probably because the return back to high silver content coinage resulted in more hoarding again, at least that theory makes a lot of sense to me.
  5. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it. This is certainly among the "most iconic" ancient coins, another example I would say is Tiberius' tribute penny (I have that one in the collection), and the Athena owl tetradrachm (I sadly have not yet got around to procuring one of those).
  6. thisistheshow, That is a very interesting question, and I actually have wondered about that myself. I would say it depends on the coin. For this particular coin, I would say yes. The side portrait of Marc Antony on this coin is highly distinctive, and Marc Antony was among the most famous Roman men (along with his fellow triumvirs). Even for a citizen who was not literate (and that was probably ~90% by the way), I would imagine that they would either at least recognize Antony from the portrait, or possibly at least understand that he was associated with the letters M ANT IMP. That is not to imply that those average citizens would know Antony from seeing him in person, but rather, from his various portrait coinage. (As an aside, this is why it must have been a really, really big deal when Caesar started the important new trend of portrait coinage, and why it triggered such a response that led to his own demise.) So it probably took a bit of time for people to start recognizing that it was Antony on his coins. By the time this particular coin as struck, it had been about a decade that Antony had been producing portrait coins. So, again, I would say yes for this coin, most average Romans knew that was him on this coin. Also, since Octavia was one of, if not the most, famous or all Roman women, and her marriage to Antony was also famous, I would imagine that the average Roman citizen would know that the woman on this particular was Octavia. I would also imagine that the average Roman would *not* know that it was Octavia if her portrait appeared alone (since her portrait coinage was much rare than Antony's). For the Fulvia coin for the previous Journal Entry ("The First Living Roman Woman Depicted on Coinage?"), I would say no, the average Roman citizen probably would not know it was Fulvia. It is quite possible that average Roman would not even know that the coin was struck by Antony, unless they were literate, or happened to know the significant of the reverse inscription. Importantly, at the time, it had only been a few years since portrait coinage had been in style, so the average person might not have seen much of Antony's portrait coinage yet. Thanks for your insightful question, it actually has implications about the role that coinage played as propaganda in the history of the Roman Empire.
  7. 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 specific military standard representing each Roman legion. The reverse inscription on this particular denarius reads LEG II, in honor of the second Roman legion. Also produced were more than a score of other variants (honoring different legions, praetorian cohorts and speculatores), collectively referred to as Antony’s “legionary denarii,” along with a very limited volume of related gold coinage. Antony produced these coins to pay his legions and his fleet. To support such a large volume of production, Antony had to resort to lowering his coin’s silver content by the addition of copper (apparently foreshadowing a trend that the Romans would follow for the next several centuries). Due to their debasement, these coins tended to circulate constantly (as opposed to being hoarded), and many survive only in highly worn state. This legionary denarius, though among the more common variants, is relatively scarce since it retains an uncommonly high state of preservation of almost uncirculated. Also due to their debasement, many legionary denarii bear bankers’ assay marks. For example, this particular specimen bears test cuts on its edge. It is interesting to note that the obverse inscription reads ANT AVG, denoting that Antony held the title of augur, one who interpreted the will of the gods. The same title was previous held by Julius Caesar; Antony’s advertisement of the title was perhaps an attempt to associate himself with Rome’s murdered dictator. Ironically, AVG later became associated with Augustus, Octavian’s new title upon defeating Antony and becoming Rome’s supreme ruler. The obverse also bears the inscription III VIR R P C, denoting triumvir rei publicae constituendae, i.e., “one of three men for the restoration of the Republic." The three men referenced Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus, even though by the time this coin was struck, their triumvirate had been dissolved. Antony struck his legionary denarii in preparation for what turned out to be his last campaign against Octavian. The epic Battle of Actium took place on September 1, 31 BC. Emerging victorious was Octavian, with assistance from his trusted general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. In the aftermath, Antony committed suicide, and, shortly thereafter, so did his famous lover, Cleopatra. Surviving Antony were his highly recognizable legionary denarii, although they were probably unpopular at the time due to their debasement. They circulated for centuries; meanwhile, the silver content of Rome’s denarii declined to the point they came to equal the intrinsic value of Antony’s legionary coinage. Thus the legionary denarii became more famous over time. Elements of Antony’s design were replicated by many future Roman Emperors such as Nero, Galba, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian. In 169 AD, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus marked the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Actium with a re-issue honoring Legio VI (interestingly, they decided to change AVG to AVGVR so as avoid any confusion between their title and Anthony's). Today, Antony’s legionary denarii are arguably the most recognizable and collectible group of ancient coinage, Roman or otherwise. Additional Reading: D Vagi, “Marc Antony legionary denarii iconic. Plentiful and historic coins highly collectible today,” Coin World, 01/27/12. Coin Details: ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, The Triumvirs, Mark Antony, Autumn 32-spring 31 BC, AR Denarius (16mm, 3.75 g, 6h), Legionary type, Patrae(?) mint, NGC Grade: AU, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5, Obverse: Galley right, Reverse: LEG II, legionary aquila between two signa, References: Crawford 544/14; CRI 349; Sydenham 1216; RSC 27.
  8. 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 infamous, rather – was Octavia’s marriage to Marc Anthony, her second and his fourth nuptial, respectively. She accepted the arrangement in 40 BC as part of political deal among the Triumvirs (Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus). The marriage also required Senate approval since Octavia was pregnant at the time with her first husband's child. She was reportedly a loyal and faithful wife to Antony, supporting him during his travels among the various eastern provinces and bearing him two daughters, Antonia Major and Antonia Minor, who, in turn, were forebears to several future Emperors. This unusual bronze coin dates from the early years of their marriage, ca. 38-37 BC. It was struck in Achaea, situated on the northwestern Peloponnese peninsula. At that time, Antony struck what today hails as his “fleet coinage” comprising varying bronze denominations with interesting portraiture. The series represented a blend of ancient Hellenistic and western Roman numismatic elements, and set a new precedent for imperial nomenclature. For example, the various weights and denominations of the fleet coinage series correspond to Roman standards, whereas each coin comprises a Greek letter denoting the value. This particular coin bears an alpha and was worth one unit of value known as an “as”. Interestingly, this same denomination series was later adopted as part of Octavians’ currency reforms in the early Roman Empire. The fleet moniker refers to the coin’s reverse. Specifically, the verso depicts a heavy Greek warship known as a quinquereme. These ships were huge and rather slow compared to Roman-evolved designs, and by 1st century AD were relegated to serve as fleet flagships. The reverse also bears the name of M. Oppius Capito, perhaps one of Antony’s admirals. The obverse portrays the busts of Octavia and Antony. Although depicting living people on Roman coins struck in Italy was relatively new, it was traditional in the eastern territories. In this context, Antony probably intended to promote his authority over the eastern territories wherein these coins circulated. In addition, historians posit that Antony struck such coinage as propaganda, to counter Octavian’s bronze coins produced in the west, and advertise the Triumvir’s bond, as evidenced by Antony’s marriage to Octavia. Despite the coin’s charming obverse imagery, the marriage between Octavia and Antony, similar to the Triumvirs' bond, was destined for failure. In 37 BC, Antony abandoned Octavia to wed Cleopatra VII of Egypt. In the absence of a formal divorce, the new nuptial was not legally binding in Rome. Octavian implored his sister to file to divorce, but she remained devoted, at least for a while. In 35 BC, Octavia even attempted to parley with Antony, bringing him a fleet laden with supplies. However, Antony refused, barring Octavia’s progress past Athens, and sending her back to Italy. By 32 BC, Octavia finally divorced Antony, now sworn enemy of Octavian and the State. The following year, Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the epic naval Battle of Actium. In the aftermath, the famous lovers committed suicide, and the gracious Octavia assumed responsibility for their three children: Alexander, Ptolemy, and Cleopatra Selene. Octavia raised them in Italy, a testament to her many charitable good deeds. Octavia died sometime around 11 BC. At her public funeral, she was severely mourned and bestowed much adulation. The epitome of Roman feminine virtues, Octavia also represented one of the Empire’s most prominent women. Among many honors to note, Octavia was the first Roman woman, living or otherwise, unambiguously portrayed on coinage. Coin Details: ACHAEA, Mark Antony, with Octavia, Summer 37 BC, Æ (15mm, 3.97 g, 9h), Fleet Coinage, Light series, M. Oppius Capito, propraetor and praefectus classis, NGC Grade: VF, Strike: 3/5, Surface: 3/5, Obverse: Jugate bare heads of Antony and Octavia right, M ANT IMP TERT COS DESIG ITER ET TER III VIR, Reverse: Quinquereme sailing right, M OPPIVS CAPITO PRO PR PRAE, A and gorgoneion in exergue, References: Amandry, Bronze II, Series 2C; RPC I 1470; CRI 296.
  9. 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 any ambitious Roman noblewoman, she sought partners of rising political status. Her first husband, an incendiary politician who championed the common people, was murdered in 52 BC. Afterwards, Fulvia’s public lamentations and trial testimony facilitated the murderer’s punishment. Fulvia’s second husband, also a popular politician among plebeians, died in 49 BC fighting for Julius Caesar’s cause. Afterwards, Fulvia entered into her third, and final marriage. This time, her husband was yet another dynamic and powerful political figure, Marc Antony. Fulvia supported Antony in the chaotic period following Caesar’s assassination on the ides of March 44 BC. In the aftermath, Antony and Fulvia emerged as Rome’s most powerful couple. On at least two occasions, Antony was abroad when Fulvia, back in Rome, defended her husband against political enemies. The formidable list of opponents included Cicero, Rome’s most famous orator and lawyer. It is not surprising that several surviving accounts (especially Cicero’s) paint a negative picture of Fulvia: domineering, greedy, and cruel. To the extent Fulvia exhibited such traits, her actions seem hardly more objectionable than her opponents’. Allegedly, Fulvia played a major role in brutal proscriptions eliminating many prominent Romans, including Cicero. One account, probably apocryphal, describes her piercing his dead tongue with golden hairpins. Besides sparring with Cicero, Fulvia interacted and influenced many of Rome’s elite. She promoted the 43 BC reconciliation between her husband and his fellow Triumvirs Octavian and Lepidus. She even agreed that Octavian could marry her daughter, Clodia Pulchra. Per the Triumvir’s agreement, Antony gained control over Gaul, including the mint city of Lugdunum, where he struck this ancient silver quinarius. The obverse depicts Victoria, the goddess representing victory. Close inspection reveals that Victoria's facial features suggest an older woman. Interestingly, the deity sports a nodus, a popular hairstyle among mortal Roman noblewomen, including Fulvia. Numismatic research suggests that Victoria on this coin represents Fuvia (she also appears on one provincial bronze issue that Antony struck in Phyrgia). Assuming the attribution is correct, Fulvia was the first Roman woman to behold her own coinage. The attribution remains equivocal; the first living Roman woman unambiguously appearing on coinage was Antony’s next wife, Octavia. The coin’s reverse bears the inscription III VIR R P C, denoting Antony’s status as <i>triumvir reipublicae constituendae</i>, one of the three men for the regulation of the Roman Republic. The reverse depicts a lion walking right, along with an inscription proclaiming imperator Antony’s 41st birthday. Thus, the strike probably occurred in 42 BC, the same year Antony helped defeat Caesar’s assassins, Brutus and Cassius, at the epic Battle of Philippi. After the Battle of Philippi, Antony headed to Egypt, where he allied himself with Queen Cleopatra VII. Around this time, Octavian re-settled his victorious Roman troops back into Italy. However, doing so required confiscation of Roman property. As a result, there was widespread disapproval for Octavian among many of Rome’s civilians. Fulvia allied with Antony’s brother Lucius to oppose Octavian’s land policies. At least one of her motivations was advancing her husband’s power by raising discontent against Octavian. As tensions rose, Octavian divorced Fulvia’s daughter, claiming he never consummated the relationship. The situation continued to escalate, and a displeased Fulvia took action, raising a considerable army in conjunction with Lucius. Fulvia and Lucius briefly controlled Rome until Octavian showed up to confront them, backed by his own, much larger and more powerful force. Fulvia and Lucius had no choice but to retreat, and they chose the fortress of Perusia. The struggle between Fulvia and Octavian resulted in some remarkable historical artifacts illustrating Roman propaganda. One such example is an epigram, or poem, allegedly written by Octavian himself. The epigram presents Fulvia as an aggressive matron so jealous of her husband Antony’s extramarital affairs that she offers her son-in-law an ultimatum of coitus or war. <i>…since Antony screws Glaphyra </i>[his Cappadocian mistress], <i>Fulvia has appointed this punishment for me, that I too should screw her. Therefore do I screw Fulvia?...I don't think so, if I were sane...doesn't she know my is dearer to me than life itself? Let the trumpets blare!</i>” Clearly, the poem is not so much an attack on Antony, but rather Fulvia, reflecting her prominent role in the events preceding the Perusine War. While it is nearly inconceivable that Fulvia made such an offer, it is easy to imagine Octavian’s propaganda machine generating the epigram. In particular, the vulgar tone and sexual language promoted Octavian’s masculinity in the face of accusations of the triumvir’s effeminacy. Other, even more provocative, examples of ancient Roman propaganda resulted from Fulvia and Lucius’ war with Octavian. In ancient times, slings served as popular projectile weapons and their ammunition (lead bullets called glans) often bore inscriptions to intimidate or otherwise demoralize its targets. Given its shape (one that inspired naming of certain anatomical features), glans provided a particularly interesting canvas for ancient soldiers to taunt their enemies. Apparently, Octavian’s forces used the opportunity to encourage their glans to penetrate certain orifices belonging to Fulvia and Lucius. Milder examples poked fun at Lucius’ receding hairline. Not to be denied equal billing, sling bullets from forces representing Fulvia and Antony declared their intention to penetrate Octavia’s rear end. (Presumably, they were not aiming at Octavian’s sister, but rather questioning the Triumvirs’ sexual preference by addressing him by the feminine form of his name.) Amidst the naughty jesting, Fulvia and Lucius’ forces tried to withstand Octavian’s siege. They might have persevered, if only Antony’s forces had come to their aid. Alas, Antony did not respond, and his lack thereof probably reflected his displeasure, if not betrayal, of his wife and brother, who had no choice but to surrender. In the aftermath, Octavian pardoned Lucius, but deemed reconciliation with his former mother-in-law impossible. Fulvia retreated eastward, and one account describes her meeting up with Antony, who then rebuked her, either for the audacity to wage her own war, or for failure to achieve its success, or both. It is also described that Fulvia grew despondent after the chastisement, and soon thereafter succumbed to disease and died. Using Fulvia as scapegoat for instigating the Perusine war, Antony reached a renewed peace with Octavian and agreed to marry his sister Octavia (although neither truce nor marriage endured). Ironically or not, Fulvia supported her husband's cause even after her death. Additional reading: “A Study of Fulvia,” A J Weir, 2007. Coin Details: ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Fulvia, first wife of Mark Antony, died 40 BC, AR Quinarius (1.79 g), Lugdunum Mint, NGC Grade: Ch F, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 3/5, Obverse: Bust of Victory right with the likeness of Fulvia, III VIR R P C, Reverse: Lion right between A and XLI, ANTONI above, IMP in exergue, References: Crawford 489/6; Sydenham 1163; RSC 3; ex. Neubecker collection.
  10. As an example, I found an absolutely stunning Pertinax denarius while perusing a wonderful coin shop in Munich. The only "flaw" was a fairly pronounced flan crack. I didn't realize my peril...when I returned home and unpacked my suitcase, I was all ready to pack up my latest coin off to NGC for grading and include into my collection...to my dismay, the coin had split into two! :-( Needless to say, I didn't bother to ship to NGC for grading (although I do wonder is there is some reasonable method to repair it?!). Also sorry about my late response to your response...I have take several weeks hiatus from the collection, focusing on other things. I hope to get around to some more research/postings soon! Cheers!
  11. KD, Thanks for your comment on my research. Indeed this is a very small coin, I found a bit challenging to grab and manipulate in hand (that is, before I sent off to NGC Ancients for encapsulation).
  12. Teacher Brian, thanks for your comment, I really appreciate the feedback!
  13. BipolarBaby, I completely agree with you on the pricing of ancient coins being all over the place. At least with modern coins, in particular slabbed modern coins, there are usually a plethora of specimens of each date/mint to choose from, and their strikes and surfaces are very consistent (cleaned coins are a notable exception of course!), so the pricing is relatively competitive and consistent, for instance from dealer to dealer. When it comes to ancient coins, each type is relatively more rare, oftentimes extremely rare, and much more variable in their strike and the chemical degradation on their surfaces. I think that NGC is the on the correct track in that they not only give a traditional grade on the ancient coins' condition (like VF), but also give their opinion of the strike and surface quality as well. Having said that, I am not necessarily suggesting you should be an already NGC-slabbed Sulla coin. Actually, most ancient coin collection eschew "slabbing"; I am in the minority in that I prefer to slab my ancients. Indeed, at this point in my ancient coin collecting journey I almost exclusively purchase "raw" coins, and then I encapsulate later. It took me time and experience to get comfortable with that. (I will post detailed comments on that in the future.) Having said that, I do have a number of ancient coins that I decided not to slab, for various reasons, including that sometimes I prefer to hold certain coins directly in my hand. I encourage you to get multiple perspectives on collecting ancient coins, but as a start I will provide some of my own thoughts. For collecting ancient coins in general, I advise at the beginning a bit of patience. Peruse what is out there currently, and study the prices, descriptions, and photos of each one, especially for your own impression of "eye appeal". Even if the coin has chemical degradation on its surface, understand that is also part of that particular coin's history, and sometimes can be artistically appealing (I will post my comments on my Domitia coin later to give more of my perspective on that point). If the photos are not well done, then I would avoid (means the selling is either trying to hide something or isn't experienced, both have obvious drawbacks). I like to purchase from auctions (a few good places to at least look are CNG auctions, Heritage, biddr.ch, etc). I personally do not recommend ebay for ancients, unless in NGC slab. Another great place to look at is vcoins or ma-shops (a lot of dealers are there). For not only upcoming, but importantly previous realized price, other good resource are out there such as coinarchives, and there are similar sites as well. Once you have seen what is available, you can choose from that, or wait for new examples to come to market, for example a lot of auctions occur each month. Once you see what seems good for you, then you have some confidence that it is the right time/price to go for it. I am sorry you had to read all this content, and I realize I still haven't answered you question: Could you help me gauge an actual price for a vf Sulla? I would need to know exactly which Sulla coin you want? For the moment I would assume that you are looking for the same denarius I posted. In this case, I would say probably $300-$400 range for VF example, maybe up to $500 for example with high eye appeal. I realize that is still a big range, but that is where VF doesn't tell the whole story and strike/surface comes in. For coinarchives, here is a recent example in VF-ish condition... https://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=1435129&AucID=2931&Lot=896&Val=d44bd0d5960200b25dc66e03aa7be35e That one sold for about $300 US + commission, and I think has a lot of nice eye appeal (I am surprised it did not sell for higher, actually). Here is another recent example from coinarchives... https://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=1433589&AucID=2929&Lot=417&Val=5665308db5a22c8f830747b388ba28b9 This one sold for $340 + commission, and I think the first was nicer. Here is an ebay example, starting at $349... https://www.ebay.com/itm/L-Cornelius-Sulla-L-Manlius-Torquatus-Roman-Republic-Silver-Denarius-82BC/273781403202?hash=item3fbea4ae42:g:IpMAAOSw76JcWh-R&frcectupt=true Example sold in ma-shops,not super nice, and probably a bit below VF, $308... https://www.ma-shops.com/henzen/item.php?id=25363&lang=en Just because I can't help myself from sharing, here is a gorgeous example in Ch EF condition that sold recently for $1600+ commission... https://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=1410931&AucID=2868&Lot=833&Val=ca2f6b92b54b4153e564056cff096c6d I hope my diatribe-ish response helps!
  14. 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 the prototypical persona non grata of Roman politics. Borrowing sic erat scriptum the tagline of a late, modern-day comedian, he didn't get no respect. Lepidus, an early supporter of Julius Caesar, held the post of praetor in 49 BC, and watched over Rome while his mentor defeated Pompey at Pharsalus. On March 14, 44 BC, while Lepidus served as Caesar’s magister equitum (Master of the Horse), he warned his leader about an imminent murder plot. Lepidus’ arguments proved unpersuasive, and the next day Caesar fell at the hands of a mob. (If Lepidus had been a more effective communicator, history might have turned out vastly different!) Afterwards, Lepidus had an opportunity to redeem himself by avenging Caesar’s murder and punishing the known perpetrators. Instead, Lepidus stayed his hand, following Marc Antony’s advice. Furthermore, Lepidus went along with Antony's opposition of Caesar's legally named heir, Octavian. However, the power grab by Lepidus and Antony failed, and the duo retreated to Gaul. It was in Gaul during this period (44 to 42 BC) that Lepidus struck this silver obol. It is rare, and one of only perhaps two issues he struck there. For the obverse, Lepidus portrayed Apollo, a traditional choice as opposed to the bold, new trend of self-portraiture. The verso presents a cornucopia encircled by a wreath, promising future prosperity. Lepidus’ own fortunes improved when Octavian convinced him and Antony to form together as Triumvirs. They divided Rome’s demesnes amongst themselves: Lepidus was assigned Spain and shared Gaul with Antony, junior partner Octavian controlled North Africa, and all three shared responsibility over Italy. The Triumvirs needed to re-conquer the rest: Sicily under Sextus Pompey’s control, and the eastern territories dominated by Brutus and Cassius. The latter duo fell in 42 BC at the Battle of Philippi. Afterwards, the Triumvirs readjusted their power-sharing. This time, Lepidus - almost expelled by Octavian as a suspected Sextus Pompey sympathizer - was demoted to control over North Africa. Understandably, Lepidus disapproved his reduced role. He strove to improve his lot while jointly campaigning with Octavian against Sextus Pompey's Sicilian forces. Lepidus landed on Sicily, and then proceeded to lead a land assault. He succeeded in regaining control over Sicily, and then, with Octavian still busy battling the enemy's navy at sea, Lepidus announced his intention to keep it. Lepidus’ land grab did not sit well with Octavian, who issued a challenge in response. Consequently, Lepidus’ legions defected en masse, fearing Octavian’s displeasure. The defenseless and humiliated Lepidus had no choice but to beg for Octavian’s mercy. Octavian indeed spared Lepidus’ life. However, Lepidus was required to abdicate all his political powers and titles, except for the largely meaningless post of Pontifex Maximus. Lepidus was expelled to the remote promontory of Mount Circeo, where he spent his remaining years in obscurity, watching Antony’s fall, Octavian's transition to Augustus, and the Republic’s transformation to Empire. Occasionally, Lepidus was allowed to visit Rome on official business. Even then, the humiliation continued; he was required to speak last. Historians traditionally view Lepidus as the Triumvirate’s weakest link, untrustworthy and ineffective. Even Shakespeare disparaged Lepidus, depicting him as a simpleton and a drunkard. Evidently, Lepidus still doesn’t get much respect. Coin Details: ROMAN IMPERIATORIAL, M. Aemilius Lepidus, as Triumvir(?), AR obol (0.43 g, 10.6 mm), Cabellio (Cavaillon), Gaul, 44-42 BC, NGC Grade: AU, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 3/5, Obverse: Head of Apollo right, CABE before, Reverse: Cornucopia, LE-PI in left and right fields, all within wreath, References: RPC 528; Sear CRI 491.
  15. Thanks for your comment, I am glad you found worthwhile to read!