By CoinWeek….

Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. (HJB) has offered up over 140 ancient coins for auction this week on their eBay shop. The coins span a roughly thousand-year period: from an obol of Dicaea dated from approximately 550 BCE to a drachm of the Alchon Huns in northern India dating from around 540 to 580 CE (though a stavraton of the Byzantine Emperor John VIII–formerly part of the William Herbert Hunt Collection–is available that dates from the early 15th century).

Over 80 of the items are Roman, with a high representation of second- and third-century types. About 50 of the coins come from ancient Greece and the Greek-speaking world, with obols, drachms, tetradrachms and staters being the most common denominations.

A few Biblically-themed items are also being offered, including Roman nails from the first century CE.

Other nations and coin types for sale include one piece from the Kingdom of Axum (modern-day Ethiopia), one Phoenician specimen, and the aforementioned Byzantine example.

Two books are also for sale: Amphipolis – The Civic Coinage in Silver and Gold by Catherine Lorber and a signed copy of 100 Greatest Ancient Coins by Harlan J. Berk himself.

Interested collectors should check out the following highlights:

Roman Commemorative for Alexander the Great

It is perhaps surprising that a Roman coin from the third century of empire would honor the ancient Macedonian conqueror when Rome itself has such a wealth of historical rulers and generals, but if we remember that coins are propaganda as much as they are money, then perhaps a Roman commemorative for Alexander the Great makes more sense. Issued during the reign of the teenaged but much-beloved Emperor Gordian III, the portrait of Alexander conveys not just the young emperor’s desire to be associated with the legendary world leader but also his appreciation of Greek culture.

There’s a reason the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire lasted almost a millennium longer than the West: that’s where all the money was.

A drachm from Chalcis in Euboea

HJB - Euboea, Chalcis, drachmThis coin is an attractive representative of one of the most enduring of ancient coin designs. Many famous examples come from the Greek colonies of Sicily–notably Syracuse–but this specimen comes from Euboea, a large island in the Aegean Sea just north of Athens. Chalcis was its capital, and the coin’s obverse features a nymph that serves as the personification of the city.

Such portraits of water nymphs and local goddesses helped inspire the likes of Augustus Saint-Gaudens to transform the coins of the United States in what has become known as the Golden Age of American coinage.

The reverse, with its eagle attacking or preparing to eat a snake, is dramatic, and should also be understood as an influence on the neoclassical eagles found on Classic and Modern U.S. coins.

Crucifixion-Period Iron Nail and Widow’s Mite

Widow's Mite and Crucifixion-period Roman Iron NailCollecting the coins of the Holy Land or coins that are mentioned specifically in the Bible is a popular, time-honored tradition among numismatists, not only in America but around the world. HJB’s current eBay shop inventory includes several interesting items that would compliment any such collection. One of them is this nicely framed set, consisting of an authentic widow’s mite and a Roman nail from the time period of Christ’s crucifixion.

The Gospels of Mark (12:41-44) and Luke (21:1-4) present the widow’s donation of two “mites” (in actuality two lepta, the smallest coins in Judaea at the time) as a lesson in true sacrifice, since even though many wealthier people had and could donate more money, what they gave stood to harm them far less than what the widow contributed to the temple.

When coupled with the ancient nail and framed, the coin makes quite the contemplative centerpiece and a more than worthy addition to your collection.

To see the rest of this week’s offerings, visit http://www.ebay.com/sch/hjb-ancientcoins/m.html.


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