The Most Beautiful Coins of Antiquity:

Nominations of collectors
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3
Page 4 - My Selections

This page is a result of a poll taken on the Greek and Moneta coin lists. List members were asked to nominate the most beautiful coin of antiquity. These are the results, although many said it was too hard to pick just one. These are only the tip of the iceberg. The skill necessary to render these engravings in hardened metal is bewildering and leaves many collectors in awe. Here is to the Celators!

Bill Blank nominated this stunning Celtic Stater. A stylistic gem! Somewhere between cave art and Picasso there was a Celtic engraver who should be honored among the best artists ever known. Makes me wonder if they had discovered a halucinogen that also improved eyesight. remarkable.
Update - 2013. Mitresh Singh submitted several coins from India/Kush area. I chose 2 to add. The first is on my to-get list. The Kushan king Kanishka is depicted on the obverse sacrificing at an altar. the reverse has Helios. Both sides have Greek inscriptions showing the continued influence they had even during the time of Hadrian when this coin was minted (127 C.E.)
2013 update. Mitresh's 2nd coin is from the Deccan Sultanate from AH 726 (1326 C.E.). Beautiful caligraphy, as is often the case on Muslim coins.
2013 update. A stunningly detailed sestertius of Hadrian commemorating his tour of Britannia submitted by Geoffrey Cope. A great depiction of Hadrian and the reverse is remarkable. The bearer of the Aquila (aquilifer) is shown with his animal headress. There appears to be an eagle (or another fold) and globe? at the bottom of the cuirass of Hadrian.
This is my selection and it is more about the specific coin than the coin type. This is a coin from a recent CNG auction. It is a tetradrachm of Magnesia ad Maeandrum in Ionia. Maybe it is the face of artemis on the beveled flan, or the nonchalant pose of Apollo on the reverse. I can't put my finger on it but this coin really impressed me! Of course, then there is...

Picture courtesy of CNG
Alexander the Great lifetime gold stater from Abydos was nominated by Reid Goldsborough. The obverse depicts a strong and beautiful Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare, the reverse Nike, goddess of victory, with stunning body-length wings. Reid adds: "As with all ancient gold, this coin is intrinsically radiant, speaking with a bright voice about how humankind through the ages has prized this metal above all others.
The classic Athens Tetradrachms were well respected in their day. Heather Howard. nominated the new style version as one of her favorites. Great detail, ornate helmet, and owl staring you in the eyes makes this a classic.
Beautiful stater of Lokris nominated by Jim Gossett. This has a beautiful portrait with an action reverse featuring Ajax. Persephone is on the obverse.
The coins of Syracuse have been traditionally regarded as the pinnacle of the celator's art. The compostion of this 16 Litrae coin of Hieron II is superb.
Hannes Mayer voted for the Lokris stater and felt this Baktrian coin of Antimachos I represents one of the best male portraitures.
Another great male portrait of Pergamon representing Philetairos, the treasurer for the king, was nominated by Dewey Maggard. One almost wants to touch the skin, it seems so real. How did they capture the skin texture like that??
Harry Stewart wants the Romans to get their due. The stunning portrait amidst a patina that highlights Caligula's feature make this coin special.
And from the later Roman period, comes this Licinius II 19 from Gar Travis. Great color and composition. Helmets and armor do add nice structure to a coin's look.
And, the Licinius family makes it again with this of Licinius II contibuted by Scott Uhrick. Great myth scene on reverse and excellent portrait on obverse. BTW this is from an uncleaned lot!
There is beautiful reverse detail on this coin submitted by Andrei Gandila of Romania. A rare procopius with a fascinating reverse.
Edgar Owen votes for a Tetradrachm of Myrina. These coins were also noted by Wayne Sales as an example of the best consttructed/balanced coins in his series of books. Beautiful!
From Cyprus, Dr. Gyula Petranyi proposed the Dyrrhachian Stater. On his website concerning these coins, I learned a lot about the history and mystery of these coins. Sometimes you need the background to full appreciate the art.
Harry Stewart has a soft spot for the coins of Maroneia. This stallion prancing and grapes in incuse on the reverse is a classic beauty. I have to get someone to nominate a Sicilo-Punic with the horse looking back.

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These are not in order, thus there are stunning ones there, as well.

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