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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Numismatics| ▸ |Overstruck||View Options:  |  |  |   

Overstruck Coins

Although most ancient coins were struck on newly made flans, it was not unusual for a coin to be struck with an older coin used at the "blank" flan. Overstrikes are important because we can firmly establish the overtype is a later issue than the undertype. Overstrikes have been used to determine not just the sequence of issues but have also been used to more precisely date issues and, in some cases, to establish the order of rulers' reigns. For some ancient realms, numismatics provides the primary or only clues of who ruled and when they ruled. Sometimes overstrikes were done to recycle worn or obsolete coins. The most interesting overstrikes were done for political reasons. For example during the Jewish Bar Kochba revolt against Rome, the rebels struck their own silver zuz over Roman denarii, thus obliterating symbols of the hated Romans and replacing them with their own.


Byzantine Empire, Revolt of the Heraclii, 608 - 5 Oct 610 A.D.

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Heraclius the Elder, possibly of Armenian origin, was a Byzantine general and the father of Byzantine emperor Heraclius. He distinguished himself in the war against the Sassanid Persians in the 580s, was a subordinate general under Philippicus during the Battle of Solachon, and possibly served under Comentiolus during the Battle of Sisarbanon. About 595, Heraclius the Elder is mentioned as a magister militum per Armeniam sent by Emperor Maurice to quell an Armenian rebellion led by Samuel Vahewuni and Atat Khorkhoruni. About 600, he was appointed as the Exarch of Africa and in 608, Heraclius the Elder rebelled with his son against the usurper Phocas. Using North Africa as a base, the younger Heraclius managed to overthrow Phocas, beginning the Heraclian dynasty, which would rule Byzantium for a century. Heraclius the Elder died soon after receiving news of his son's accession to the Byzantine throne.
BZ86357. Bronze follis, DOC II 16, Morrisson BnF 9/Ax/AE/02, Hahn MIBEC 16a, Grierson 164, Tolstoi 279, SBCV 722, Sommer -, Ratto -, aF, uneven strike, a little off center, scratches, overstruck, edge cracks, weight 5.587 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Alexandria or Alexandretta mint, Sep - Oct 610 A.D.; obverse dm N ERACLIO CONSULII, facing busts of Heraclius and his father, both bearded, bareheaded and wearing consular robes, cross above center; reverse Large M (40 nummi), cross above, ANNO left, X/IIII (year 14) on right, A (1st officina) below, AΛEZAN∆ in exergue; rare; $320.00 (281.60)


Lysimacheia, Thracian Chersonese, c. 245 - 225 B.C., Overstruck on Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochos II, 261 - 241 B.C.

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Undertype: Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochos II, 261 - 241 B.C., cf. Houghton-Lorber 522, Sardes(?) mint, obverse: diademed head of Apollo right; reverse: tripod over anchor, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ANTIOXOY downward on left.
RP89880. Bronze AE 18, MacDonald Overstrikes 91 (same undertype); Asilbeyli Hoard, group 8, 95 (same); SNG Cop 914; BMC Thrace p. 195, 4, aVF+, nice green patina, weak strike leaving strong undertype on reverse, earthen deposits, weight 4.154 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, Lysimachia (Eksemil, Turkey) mint, c. 245 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse Nike standing left, raising wreath in right hand, ΛYΣIMAXEΩN starting downward on left and ending below, monograms (controls) on right; undertype: obverse - head of Apollo right; $160.00 (140.80)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter, 305 - 282 B.C.

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In 305 B.C., Demetrius Poliorcetes besieged Salamis and defeated Ptolemy's navy off the coast. Demetrius offered lenient terms and Ptolemy's brother, Menelaus, surrendered the city. After this victory, Demetrius declared himself a King. Ptolemy also declared himself a King. This coin has the usual Ptolemaic hemiobol types, with the title BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) visible. It is overstruck over a bronze of Demetrios Poliorketes with helmeted head of Demetrios Poliorketes right obverse (under the reverse of our coin) and prow reverse (under our obverse). Ptolemy struck this coin at Salamis after he re-took Cyprus in 294 B.C. Both Ptolemy I and Demetrios died in 283 B.C. Demetrios died in captivity, imprisoned by Seleukos.
GP87139. Bronze hemiobol, SNG Cop 43 (X, also overstruck, perhaps with same undertype); Svoronos 163; BMC Ptolemies 8, 69; under-type: Newell 20; SRCV II 6775, VF, nice green patina, strong undertype effects, weight 4.094 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 0o, Cyprus, Salamis mint, c. 294 B.C.; obverse deified head of Alexander the Great right with horn of Ammon, hair long; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left, head left, wings open, X or (AX monogram) over helmet in left field; extremely rare; $140.00 (123.20)


Thracians, Odrysian Kingdom, Seuthes III, c. 330 - 295 B.C.

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Seuthes was the high priest of the Cabeiri, and the king of the Odrysian Thracians. He revolted against Macedonia about 325 B.C., after Alexander's governor Zopyrion was killed in battle against the Getae. Seuthes was apparently subdued by Antipater, but after Alexander died in 323 B.C. he again took up arms in opposition to the new governor Lysimachus. They fought to a draw and both withdrew, but ultimately Seuthes acknowledged Lysimachus' authority. In 320 B.C., Seuthes III moved the Odrysian kingdom to central Thrace and built his capital city at Seuthopolis. In 313 B.C. he supported Antigonus I against Lysimachus, occupying the passes of Mount Haemus, but was again defeated and forced to submit to Lysimachus. After Lysimachus died in 281 B.C., Thrace came under the suzerainty of Ptolemy Keraunos.|Head| of |Seuthes| |III|
GB92078. Bronze AE 19, Peter p. 182, 4 (same dies); SNG Stancomb 294; SNG Cop 1073; Youroukova 84 var. (star between forelegs); SNG BM Black Sea 319 var. (wreath vice star), F, nice turquoise patina, overstruck, light earthen deposits, edge crack, weight 5.751 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 90o, Seuthopolis (near Kazanlak, Bulgaria) mint, c. 323 - 316 B.C.; obverse laureate, bearded head of Seuthus III right, undertype remnant in right field; reverse horseman cantering right, left foreleg raised, ΣEYΘOY above, eight-pointed star below horse (control); scarce; $100.00 (88.00)


Byzantine Empire, Constantine X Ducas, 25 December 1059 - 21 May 1067 A.D.

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The undertype, SBCV 1853, Class F Anonymous Follis, was also struck under Constantine X.
BZ91671. Bronze follis, DOC III part 2, 8, Wroth BMC 18, Morrisson BnF 51/Cp/AE/1, Ratto 2021, SBCV 1853, Sommer 52.6; undertype: SBCV 1856, aVF, overstruck with strong undertype effects from Anonymous Follis class F, weight 5.625 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 25 Dec 1059 - 21 May 1067; obverse +EMMA-NOVHΛ, Christ stands facing on footstool, wears nimbus cruciger, pallium and colobium, Gospels in left, IC - XC across field; undertype: ISXS / bASILE / bASIL (Jesus Christ King of Kings) in three lines; reverse + KWNT ∆K - EV∆K AVΓO (or similar, from upper right), Eudocia on left, Constantine on right both stand facing crowned, wearing loros, holding between labarum with cross on shaft on three steps; undertype: nimbate Christ seated facing on throne without back; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $95.00 (83.60)


Byzantine Empire, Focas, 23 November 602 - 5 October 610 A.D.

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Focas became emperor through a military revolt. He was an oppressive evil tyrant. His reign was a period of disaster with invasions, persecution of the aristocracy and civil unrest. Focas restored recognizable portraiture to the coinage - an oddity considering his appearance is often described as grotesque.
BZ92762. Bronze half follis, DOC II part 1, 37a; Ratto 1218; Hahn MIB 65b; SBCV 644; Sommer 9.29; Wroth BMC -; Morrisson BnF -; Tolstoi -, VF, overstruck with strong undertype effects, small edge split, weight 4.567 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 603 - 5 Oct 610 A.D.; obverse D N FOCA PERP AVG, crowned bust facing, bearded, wearing consular robes, mappa in right hand, cross in left hand; reverse XX (20 nummi), star above, CONA in exergue; ex German dealer or collector (anonymous German tag); $65.00 (57.20)


Lysimacheia, Thracian Chersonese, c. 245 - 225 B.C.

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Lysimachia was built by Lysimachus in 309 B.C. On the isthmus, it commanded the road from Sestos and mainland Thrace. To obtain inhabitants for his new city, Lysimachus destroyed neighboring Cardia and settled the inhabitants of it and other Chersonese cities here. Lysimachus made Lysimachia the capital of his kingdom and it must have rapidly risen to great splendor and prosperity.
RP89897. Bronze AE 17, HGC 3 1500 (S), SNG Cop 914; cf. BMC Thrace p. 195, 4, gVF, green patina, overstruck, weight 4.058 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Lysimachia (Eksemil, Turkey) mint, c. 245 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion's scalp headdress; reverse ΛYΣIMA,XEΩN (downward on left, ending in exergue), Nike standing left, raising wreath in right hand, monograms(?) right; $60.00 (52.80)


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D., Overstruck on Focas

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Heraclius came to power in 610 following a successful revolt in North Africa against the tyrannical rule of the Emperor Focas. His son Heraclius Constantine was elevated to joint rule in 613 A.D. Heraclius' most spectacular military achievement was the total defeat of Rome's old enemy on the eastern frontier, the Sassanid Persians. Unfortunately, this only facilitated the Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died in early 641 A.D. and Egypt fell to the Arabs soon after.
BZ91698. Bronze follis, SBCV 805; DOC II-1 76 - 83; Hahn MIB 160b, Sommer 11.53; undertype: Focas, follis, Constantinople, 604 - 610 A.D., SBCV 640, VF, overstruck with strong undertype effects, holed, weight 10.091 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 0o, 5th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 613 - 616 A.D.; obverse [dd NN hERACLIuS Et hER]A CON[St PP A], Heraclius on left, Heraclius Constantine on right, both in chlamys holding globus cruciger in right, cross between heads; undertype: O N FOCA..., crowned facing bust, mappa in right, cross in left; reverse large M (40 nummi), Christogram above, ANNO left, uncertain year right (years 3 - 5, obscured by undertype effects), A (1st officina) below, CON (Constantinople) in exergue; undertype: large XXXX, ANNO above, uncertain year right (years 2 - 8), CON[...] in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $60.00 (52.80)


Byzantine Empire, Constans II, September 641 - 15 July 668 A.D.

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The Arabs also took to the sea, and from the 650's on, the entire Mediterranean Sea became a battleground, with raids and counter-raids being launched against islands and the coastal settlements. In 652, an Arab fleet under Abdullah ibn Sa'ad defeated the Byzantine fleet (500 ships) off the coast of Alexandria. Arab raids reached a peak in the 9th and early 10th centuries, after the conquests of Crete, Malta and Sicily, with their fleets reaching the coasts of France and Dalmatia and even the suburbs of Constantinople.
BZ92071. Bronze follis, DOC II part 2, 69a; Wroth BMC 126; Sommer 12.50; Tolstoi 157; Ratto 1560; Hahn MIB 170b; SBCV 1006; Morrisson BnF -, gF, attractive highlighting red earthen deposits, overstruck on a cut fraction of an older coin, much of inscriptions and part of figure off flan, weight 1.908 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 651 - 652 A.D.; obverse EN ToυTO NIKA (In this, be victorious), Constans with moustache and long beard, standing facing, wearing crown and chlamys, long cross in right, globus cruciger in left; reverse large M (40 nummi), cross above, A/N/A left, N/E/O/ς right, A (1st officina) below, IA (year 11) in exergue; despite the obvious flaws, this coin is somewhat nice for the type; $40.00 (35.20)


Byzantine Empire, Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine, 23 January 613 - 11 January 641 A.D.

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Heraclius came to power through revolt against the tyrannical Focas. He defeated the Sassanid Persians, but this only facilitated Arab conquest of Persia and the eastern Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died and Egypt fell soon after.
BZ68100. Bronze follis, DOC II part 1, 243; Anastasi 66; Wroth BMC 398; Tolstoi 315; Ratto 1450; Morrisson BnF 10/Sy/AE/35; SBCV 884; Sommer 11.115, F, overstruck, weight 5.875 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 632 - 11 Jan 641 A.D.; obverse facing busts of long-bearded Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine, wearing short beard, cross above, all within large round countermark; traces of undertype; reverse Heraclian monogram and SCs within large round countermark; traces of undertype; $32.00 (28.16)




  



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REFERENCES|

Curtis, C. "Colin Kraay's Explanation of the Phenomenon of Overstruck Reverses on Roman Imperial and Provincial Coins" in the Journal of Ancient Numismatics, Vol. 1, Issue 2, June/July 2008.
de Callata, F. "A Coin with the Legend ΘPAKΩN Overstruck on an Athenian Stephanophoros Tetradrachm of AΠEΛΛIKΩN-ΓOPΓIAΣ (88/7 BC) and its Consequences for the Thasian Type Coinage" in Studies Prokopov.
Emmons, B. "The overstruck coinage of Ptolemy I" in ANSMN 6 (1954), pp. 69 - 83.
MacDonald, D. Overstruck Greek Coins: Studies in Greek Chronology and Monetary Theory. (Atlanta, 2008).
Rosenberger, M. The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume IV: The Coinage of Eastern Palestine, and legionary countermarks, Bar-Kochba overstruck. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Southerland, C. "'Carausius II', 'Censeris', and the Barbarous Fel. Temp. Reparatio Overstrikes" in NC 1945.
Stannard, C. "Overstrikes and imitative coinages in central Italy in the late Republic," in Essays Hirsch. (1998)

Catalog current as of Wednesday, November 20, 2019.
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Overstruck