First global currency
Silver drachms were once minted by many ancient Greek cities and spread across the entire European continent. Through the conquests led by Alexander the Great even as far as India. Known for their beautiful and impressive portraits as well as the fantastic depictions of heraldic animals, the drachms served as a reference and deeply inspired their neighbouring ancient cultures.
Prime of medieval craft
Unlike the preceding Romanesque period and also the subsequent Renaissance, the Gothic period was not based on ancient models. It was a style of its own that developed out of the society of the time. Today, the Gothic style is best known in architecture, with its towering cathedrals and masterful stained-glass windows, but it is also clearly recognisable in the art of coinage.
Masterpieces in details
When compared to coins, medals stand out through high relief, larger size and higher artistic merit. As they were not intended to circulate, there were no limits for the engraver to express his artistic skills. Produced since the Renaissance, they are true treasures for every art enthusiast and collector with a deep interest in history.
Who shall lead?
Restless times follow a weak ruler. And in AD 193, again the mighty members of the elite Praetorian Guard successfully assert their influence as no emperor can be proclaimed without their consent. Out of the five pretenders to the throne following the murder of Commodus, Septimius Severus emerges victorious.
Most welcome Silver coin
For almost 500 years, the Roman Denarius was the most important Silver coin for trade in ancient Rome and its provinces. The silver coin pleases the collector with interesting and varied motifs, remarkable portraits of Gods and Goddesses as well as rulers and the symbolic illu-strations of their achievements.
Imperial Crisis, 235-284
Currency problems, a plague and invasions by barbarian tribes across Roman borders led to great instability. In response, emperors were chosen directly by the military. Popularity with the troops, generosity to the military and the ability to produce immediate and recognizable results: If any of these criteria were not met, he was replaced by another. Over 25 emperors in 49 years shaped what is called the Imperial Crisis.
Their fight for sovereignty and independence was long. Even the right to mint coins, which for centuries had belonged to the Bishop of Utrecht, was reached. In 1579, the Spanish monarch Philip II of the Habsburg dynasty, still ruler of the lands, allowed the provinces to strike their own coins for the first time. Then, through their famous fleets, the Dutch East- and the Dutch West Indian Companies, VOC (est. 1602) and WIC (est. 1621), the diligent people established a Dutch colonial empire that surpassed everything.
Rising Eastern Empire
In AD 306, the young Constantine was declared emperor by his late father's soldiers. During the 18 years that followed, he fought three rivals and finally achieved sole rule under the legendary christian sign Chi Rho. Byzantion became his favoured city in the East and while the star of the Western Roman Empire slowly sank, Constantine's and his successors Eastern Empire rose.
The mythical guardian
Well over three thousand years ago, in the times of the Minoans on Crete, the mythical hybrid creature already adorned the walls of the temple complexes. The Griffin is known for its vigilance, sharp-eyed cunning & strength. In Numismatics, we meet it on the coins of the two ancient coastal cities of Abdera and Teos as well as accompanying Athena. Till this day it has a firm place in heraldry as an extraordinary heraldic animal.
HOUSE OF CAPET
Ruling house of France, 987-1328
Hugo Capet was the name-giving founder of the Capetian dynasty, which succeeded the Merovingians and Carolingians. One of the famous dynastic representatives was Philip IV the Fair (1268-1314). Known for his uncompromising authority, Philip established France as a major power, transferred the papacy to Avignon and smashed the Knights Templar.
What fundamental role animals have played throughout time can be seen through their symbolic use in the iconography of money. Last year the University of Calgary dedicated a special exhibition to this topic called: 'Money Zoo - Fantastic Beasts in the History of Money'. Here we have put together some nice examples for you that are offered for sale on our platform.
President & emperor
Nephew of the famous Bonaparte, who died in exile in 1821, Louis Napoleon reached for political influence with success. He first became President of the Second French Republic and then Emperor. Louis Napoleon believed in progress and strove to fight poverty and social injustice through reforms. However, his dictatorial rule and imperial dream ended abruptly in 1870 with the Franco-Prussian War, his subsequent capture and finally in his deposition.
Res Publica Romana
After the banishment of the Etruscan kings around 500 BC, the Romans established their state "res publica - the common cause”. However, the Roman Republic was not a democracy but was governed by the Roman nobility, who held decisive political offices. Not less than 370 names of men, hungry for reputation and prestige, can be listed during the moving period when Rome's control expanded from the city's surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.
Emerging victorious out of the imperial crisis in AD 69, Vespasian was quite a contrast to his predecessor Nero. Vespasian was said to be accurate, conscientious and modest. Within his 10 years' reign, he reduced the pile of debts by raising additional and rather odd taxes, thus giving the city of Rome new splendour. It was under his reign when the construction of the legendary Colosseum was begun, and under his son Titus when it was inaugurated in AD 80.
LOUIS XV, 1715-1774
Coins are a wonderful medium to discover and explore a person's life. We hope to inspire you for a monarch who is usually overshadowed by Louis the Great, the Sun King. Louis XV was proclaimed king at the age of only 5 because the two true successors died shortly after each other from illnesses. It is worth taking a closer look at the life of this man and the challenges of the time through his coinage.
End of an imperial era
The Antonines were the four emperors Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus succeeding Hadrian to the throne. These four men, who were the last to become head of the empire by the ‘optimo-principi’ adoption arrangement, could not have been more different. Discover the complex personalities and some of their family members through their coins.
Trade & Crafts crowned with success
Not too far from now, belonging to a guild was the key to status and prosperity. But admission to such a professional group was also bound to strict rules that not everyone could fulfil. Seen in this light, the guild medals were a precious symbol of membership bringing their recipients a sense of honour & pride.
Unity in discord
Freedom-loving and hard-working people who spent their lives as successful merchants and skilled craftsmen shaped the history of the Netherlands. With their ships they rose to become a colonial power, founded new cities, but also experienced terrible wars of freedom and confession and the division of their homeland into North & South. The achievements of these maritime provinces had a significant influence on the course of European history.
Diocletian knew that being proclaimed emperor was very dangerous. No one should succeed in removing him and therefore ruled with an iron hand. He implemented profound reforms, established the rule of the four and thus achieved order again in the Roman Empire. However, the division of power among four tetrarchs was only short-lived, for their sons did not want to renounce their dynastic right of inheritance.
The Duke's coin
Derived from the Latin inscription mentioning 'ducatus', ‘dukedom’, the Ducat spread from his Venetian origin in 1284 throughout the European continent. Thanks to its stable fineness, it advanced to become a world trade coin notably in the 14th and 15th centuries and its purchasing power made him an inspiring example for other imperial gold coins.
Silver pieces of art
Anyone who has ever held a Tetradrachm in his own hands is impressed by its feel and weight. It's therefore not surprising that Tetradrachms were the favourite payment for soldiers and mercenaries and the most popular unit of exchange. Known for consistency in good metal, the hand-made silver beauties never lost their attraction.
Napoleon Bonaparte, determined and resolute, became a legend in many ways. In the chaos of the French Revolution, he rose to become consul and later emperor of a reformed and proud nation. He was celebrated for his many military victories and adored and loved by his people. By reaching for the impossible, he turned Europe upside down.
The heraldic shield
The Écu, minted in gold and silver, is one of the oldest French coins. Since the Middle Ages, it has borne the characteristic 'coat of arms' - called 'écu' in French - of its kings. Along with the Florins and Ducats, the Écu d'or was one of the most important European gold coins of the 14th to the 17th centuries.
Rome's great opponents
As the Roman Empire grew, so did the empire of the proud Parthian kings in Iran and Mesopotamia. Parthia fought the declining Seleucid Empire and resisted the rising power and expansion of Rome repeatedly and successfully. Trade developed greatly and many Parthian coins have circulated far beyond its ancient boundaries. The Parthian coins are evidence of an impressive ancient power and and proud civilisation.
Early Medieval Coins
After the collapse of the centralized Roman authority, new kingdoms were formed in Western Europe. Eventful centuries followed and pagan Europe slowly Christianized. The Anglo-Saxons established the Kingdom of England and the Franks the Carolingian Empire. But soon external invaders showed up: Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east and Saracens from the south. Browse some coins of those moving times here.
With patience, skill, and efficiency, Octavian, also known as Augustus, controlled every aspect of the public Roman life. His achieved durable peace brought prosperity to the ancient Greco-Roman world. Known as the first emperor of the Roman Empire, the portraits on his coins still recall his legendary magnanimity.
Under divine protection
In the 7th century, Christ is depicted for the first time on the obverse of the solidus. Existing by divine right and under God’s protection, the Byzantine empire, based on Roman law, Christian faith and Greek culture, flourishes and the golden Solidus carries this message into the world.
FRANC À CHEVAL
On the orders of John the Good, King of France (1350-1364), the Franc à Cheval was created on 5 December 1360 in Compiègne to finance the payment of his ransom to the English after being imprisoned at the Battle of Poitiers. Following John's death, his son Charles V continued to mint the Franc à Cheval from September 1364, but in his name. The coin was the first French royal coinage to depict the sovereign as a knight charging into battle. Although 'franc' means 'free', it is more probable that its name comes from the inscription ‘FRANCORVM REX’.
Awards for the best
Swiss shooting clubs arose out of the militia army, whose aim was to encourage men to be fit for military service and finally to defend the country. Large festivals with competitions are still regularly held to crown the best shooters. Since 1890, the Shooting Medals are artistically crafted medals and an expression of tradition, solidarity and pride of the clubs and the riflemen.
The winged goddess
Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was the messenger between the gods and the victorious people. Her Roman equivalent Victoria, cultically worshipped by the Romans, ensured the emperors' political and military victories. The very personal relationship between emperor and deity is still visible on the coins. Then as now, the preference to side with the winners has remained unchanged, as has the desire to celebrate them.
Metal of Luna
The use of Silver goes back as far as the use of Gold and during history, the metal of the moon was sometimes even more expensive than Gold. By the time of the Greek and Romans, Silver coins were a staple of the economy, reaching a peak production of 200 tons per year. Discover our dealer’s Greek and Roman Silver coin inventory.
Once as shiny as Gold
Once as shiny as Gold, it's not surprising that the Romans minted Bronze coins in large quantities to pass on their message to the people. Today, ancient Bronze coins appear in countless shades of green and brown, enhancing their beauty even more. Discover our dealers choice of Roman Bronze coins.
De Vita CAESARUM
The 12 Caesars
De vita Caesarum is a collective biography of the Roman Empire‘s first leaders written by Sueton (AD 69-122). Discover here the current stocks of coins from two centuries of moving Roman history or to be more precise, from the time of Gaius Iulius Caesar, the legendary commander, to Domitian, who was also considered a tyrant and who was also murdered.
The raising of a deceased person to the status of a god goes back to Egyptian and Greek antiquity. In Rome, deification was usually granted to deceased emperors and was part of the public emperor cult. The ennoblement was decided by the senate. The eagle or four-step funeral pyre as well as the peacock characterise the designs of the coins minted in honour of the deceased as well as the by-names DIVUS and DIVA.
Chariot races with two- or four-horse chariots were a popular sport in ancient Greece and Rome and one of the most important equestrian events as well as an essential component in several religious festivals. Among the Romans they were of great political importance and the passionate supporters of the various horse-teams sometimes fought civil war-like battles. Thanks to the coins, the fiery horses and their celebrated charioteers have remained alive to this day.
His name means 'the one who weighs' and points to the earliest function of coins as standardised weights. The Stater represented a trustworthy unit which was essential for successful trade. In circulation from 600 BC to AD 50, it became the predominant unit of coinage throughout ancient Greece and beyond and was also imitated in ancient Europe.
The pale Gold
This naturally occurring alloy of Gold and Silver was in use since the third millennium BC and is also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Many ancient ornamental objects, the coating of the pyramidions atop ancient Egyptian pyramids and obelisks and the first known metal coins were made of Electrum, the pale Gold. Discover our dealers choice of coins made from this very ancient and charming material.
In South Italy
It is believed that land shortages encouraged the Greeks to seek new settlement areas elsewhere. The mother cities sent their settlers and soon the newly founded settlements flourished through trade with the homeland and the neighbouring peoples. The coins from those settlements still show the magnificent Greek cultural richness and belong to the most popular ancient coins.
HOUSE OF VALOIS
Ruling house of France, 1328-1498
Their reign was marked by the Hundred Years' War, the disputes between France and England over the succession to the throne and supremacy in France. The important Duchy of Burgundy also emerged from their ranks. Residences such as the Louvre and the castles like Fontainebleau, Vincennes, Amboise, Chambord, Blois or Chenonceau represent this dynasty's success, which lasted for over 250 years.
Born in Florence, Italy, Niccolò Macchiavelli (1469-1527) was a diplomat, author, philosopher and historian. Inspired by his studies of history, he coined the term The “Five Good Emperors”. Machiavelli argued that these emperors, who succeeded to the throne by adoption, earned the respect through good governing, their own good lives and the good-will of their subjects.
House Orléans & Angoulême, 1498-1589
These Catholic kings, coming from a branch line of the House of Valois, were confronted in their reign with the powerful House of Habsburg, which ruled Spain, and the wars against the French Protestants, the Huguenots. With the peace treaty of 1598, the Edict of Nantes, France rose to become a colonial power and its kings paved the way for their future form of rulership 'legibus absolutus'.
Victim of his time
At the age of 19, an ignorant and indecisive personality is granted God-given authority and absolute power to rule over a large and heavily indebted state. After a 19-year reign, the life of Louis XVI ends on the scaffold in the turmoil of the French Revolution. The coins from this troubled period are contemporary witnesses of a way of life consisting of king, nobility, clergy and peasants that no longer had a future.
A man with big aims
Caesar is the first Roman to be immortalized on coins during his lifetime. Highly successful militarily, ruthless and obsessed with power, he finally brought down the Roman Republic. He became autocrat, curtailing the influence of the aristocracy and thus sealing his death. But the old order of the Roman Republic could not be restored. His story is the story of an incredible rise to power.
The quadratum incusum, an imageless reverse often minted in a square, makes the high silver and electron content of the coin visible to everybody. While the depictions of mythical and hybrid creatures on the obverse tell of the long-gone world of belief of the ancient Greek peoples and their deep connection with the living cosmos. These coins are among the oldest in the world.
A difficult birth
The coins from the 19th century illustrate the political instability following the French Revolution. In just one century, the legends of the coins changed numerous times between Republic, Empire and even Kingdom. They witness the difficult birth of the French Republic as we know it today.
Impressive spectrum of coinages
It was the time of the nobles, knights and peasants, the travels of Marco Polo and the crusades of European Christians, the founding of universities, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante, the Gothic architecture and the Black Death. No wonder, that these impressive centuries gave birth to a great variety of coinages that we enjoy collecting today.
Golden Roman Empire
Known as the typical Gold coin of the Imperium Romanum, the Aureus generally portrays the rulers on the obverse and shows gods, personifications or blessings and promises of the regime on the back. The minting of gold was considered an imperial privilege and the Aurei were in use as a gift on special occasions, but also as payments to soldiers of outstanding merit or payments for long-distance trade.
Ominous & unfortunate
Have you ever wondered why they all look to the right? In ancient times, especially among the Romans, the left side was considered ominous and un-fortunate or 'sinister', derived from the Latin word ‘sinistrum’. It's therefore not surprising that the portraits on coins of this period almost always point to the right. However, there are a few exceptions to be discovered here.
To settle the question whether Alexander’s empire should dis-integrate or survive as a unity, and if so, under whose rule, the generals of Alexander's army, the Diadochi, fought several wars against each other. After 280 BC, three great states arose: Antigonid Macedonia, Ptolemaic Egypt, and the Seleucid Kingdom in Asia. Ptolemy I was first to place his own portrait on the obverse of his coins, a clear political statement that he saw himself as the legitimate successor of the great king.
Gifts of great symbolic power
Roman Bronze Medallions have been commissioned by emperors on special occasions and presented to a small number of handpicked people. They are true masterpieces of craftsmanship, particularly large and very rare. Apparently, the symbolic meaning as an award, tribute or sign of great esteem was more important than the material value.
Birth of the Louis d'or
In times of religious conflicts in France, Louis XIII had a difficult life between his charismatic father, the great king Henry IV, his ambitious and loveless mother, Marie de’ Medici, his wife Anne of Austria and the fascinating Cardinal Richelieu. In 1640, Louis introduced the Louis d’or and the silver Ecu, which now were machine-struck and perfectly round.
Coinage before 1600
The French provinces, once proud and independent territories, enjoyed many privileges, including the right to mint their own coins. The territories were under the direction of a governor, who usually belonged to the higher nobility and whose power was a thorn in the side of the French kings. Over time, the provinces successively came under centralised rule and became part of the royal property. The provincial coins dissapeared.
Galloping through history
Without the horse we wouldn’t be where we are today. It served as a beast of burden, a means of transport and a companion in war, and contributed significantly to economic and cultural progress. But the horse was always more than a working animal. It was loved and adored. Explore the powerful and beautiful animal minted in gold and silver by our ancestors already many hundreds of years ago.
Turning back the hands
The brothers of the executed King Louis XVI wished to reverse the radical changes and tried to restore the political and social system of the Ancien Regime. However, the changes were so significant that they made it impossible for Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis Philippe I to turn back the hands of time.
Europe's most magnificent dynasty
The whole world looked at Versailles when the Bourbon sun was at its zenith under Louis XIV. Even the palace and gardens of Versailles reflected an order to which all submitted. But the splendour gave way to slow decline and finally led to the dreadful events of the French Revolution. Discover related coins of those Kings that guided the destiny of France from 1589 to 1792.
Between Black & Mediterranian Sea
The coasts of Asia Minor with their offshore islands and easily defensible peninsulas, good harbours and fertile lands, offered Greek settlers a new home. Through this colonisation, Greek culture and language, and with it the craft of minting coins, spread far beyond the homeland. Discover related coins here.
Four claimants & shifting allegiances
In AD 69, the year of the four emperors, the first civil war of the Roman Empire took place, with four emperors ruling in succession: Galba, who had ruled as Nero's successor since 68, followed by Otho, Vitellius and finally Vespasian. The year was marked by rebellions and claimants who changed their allegiances several times, as well as severe unrest. In the end, Vespasian prevailed and founded the new dynasty of the Flavians.
Restitutor orbis terrarum
Hadrian (AD 117-138) ruled as 14th Roman Emperor for 21 years. He is considered one of the 'five good emperors' and is known for stability and military success. He believed the Empire should be strengthened rather than expanded and therefore built fortified defences along the borders. The most famous being Hadrian's wall in northern England.
Eastern Roman Empire
In the 4th century the eastern Roman Empire grew in prestige. Notable emperors such as Constantine, Theodosius, Justi-nian, Basil and Michael directed its fortune. The newly created coinage like the Solidus, the Siliqua and the Miliarense are today the remains of their glorious riches.
Unconventional & mysterious
Celtic coins are some of the most beautiful and mysterious coins from ancient times. Probably as a convenient way of storing wealth and buying influence, Celtic tribes imitated Greek and Roman coins in a very distinct way. Discover our dealer’s Celtic coin inventory.
Usually, pattern coins are not approved for release but produced to evaluate a proposed coin design. Because of their historical and numismatical significance, their rarity and uniqueness, they are truly treasured collector’s items. Many of the world's most valuable coins are pattern coins.
Largest island in the Medi-terranean Sea, Sicily was an important place for Medi-terranean trade. Greek settlers arrived in the 8th century BC and brought with them their civilization which left a lasting imprint on the Romans who conquered the island around 276 BC. Enjoy the Greek culture that still echoes today on coins minted in Sicily.
As one of the 12 gods of Olympus and daughter of Zeus himself, Athena embodied outstanding qualities like wisdom and strategic warfare. The Athenians named her the patron goddess of their city and built the Parthenon in her honour. Also other Greek city states worshipped the virgin goddess and adorned their coins with her portrait and the characteristic attributes helmet, spear, shield, sacred owl & serpent.
Prior to unification in 1871
The rich variety of German States coinage reflects the territorially fragmented situation of Germany since the Middle Ages until the German-French war in 1870/1871. There are numerous duchies and counties, bishoprics, monasteries as well as free imperial cities that struck their own coins, a real challenge for trade and travel. But thanks to it, we nowadays are given an incredibly rich collection area to explore.
Roman soldier's pay
After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Sextus Pompeius, Lepidus, Marcus Antonius with Cleopatra and the young Octavian enter the stage of history. The rival men coin their own money, the so-called Legionary Denarii, in order to pay their soldiers who fight bitterly against each other. The minting patterns of these coins remain unique in Roman coinage history.
Among the five good emperors, Trajan has been given the title Optimus princeps, the 'best leader' by the Roman Senate. During his reign he expanded with his legions the borders of the Roman Empire to their greatest extent. Today both, the Trajan’s’ column, commemorating the Dacian Wars, and the coins of this period still witness a mighty, proud and respected emperor.
Castor & Pollux
The Dioscuri were worshipped by the Greeks and Romans alike. The Romans believed that the twins aided them on the battlefield and brought news of the victory back to Rome. As horsemen, they were patron saints of the Roman Equites and cavalry. Each year on July 15, Feast Day of the Dioscuri, 1'800 equestrians would parade through the streets of Rome in an elaborate spectacle.
Fire and reconstruction
Young and ambitious, Nero strove for absolute power and made an enemy of the aristocracy and the Senate. When a great fire destroyed the city of Rome in AD 64, he was blamed for it and his grandiose reconstruction plans were heavily criticised. Again, not caring about the affairs of the empire, he was declared an enemy of the state. Although he always had a bad reputation, Nero is respected today for his great influence on Roman art and architecture and for transforming Rome into a city of power & glory.
LYDIA & MYSIA
First minted coins
The origin of our monetary system is the kingdom of Lydia, once situated on the territory of today's Turkey. Around 550 BC the first minted coins, guaranteed in their weight and value by a government, were struck in the city of Sardis. Soon the idea of the system spread all over the ancient world.
Part of Magna Graecia
On the coasts of southern Italy, famous Greek colonies were founded between 750 and 550 BC. Called ἀποικία APOIKIA “home away from home”, those colonies were well organised and developed into strong city-states with their remarkable and iconic sets of coins: Metapontum with the barley ear, Heraclea with Heracles fighting, Thurium with the butting bull or Velia with the hungry Lion devouring prey.
Laurion Silver Owl
Athens flourished thanks to the nearby rich silver mines of Laurion. The Athenians created a unique currency, the drachm. Athena’s owl, symbol of knowledge and wisdom, guaranteed the fineness of the coin. The design remained unchanged for almost 400 years and is still much beloved today.
From the interest in representing identity and origin, the coat of arms developed in the High Middle Ages to become the visual sign of a family, a state, a city or even an individual person. The art of heraldry is profound and of great importance in numismatics and can be found on numerous ancient, but also modern coins.
Strong Roman women
In ancient Rome, women actually had no legal status of their own. They were considered appendages of their fathers, husbands or brothers and were under their guardianship. Nevertheless, a small number of women are known to have had considerable influence and power. On some coins of the Roman Empire their beautiful faces still tell of their past glory.
Sparta's sole colony
Ruling over the Greek colonies in southern Italy, Tarentum was founded by immigrants hailing from Sparta and soon became a sovereign city of Magna Graecia. The depiction of Taras, son of the famous Greek sea god Poseidon who has been saved from a shipwreck by a Dolphin is often found on its coinage. Taras riding a Dolphin remains the iconic symbol of the city.
First alloy of valuables
Bronze, once shiny gold to reddish brown in colour, is considered to be one of the first alloys made and used by men. Its qualities allow the working out of finest details. Bronze work has always involved trade and it’s not surprising that in many parts of the world bronze artifacts were used for centuries. Discover our dealers inventories of Ancient Bronze coins.
Ancient Jewish Coins
Browse coins dating back to the 2nd century BC until 2nd century AD minted by the Jewish people. Large quantities of coins were issued in silver, bronze and copper, some being overstruck over Roman coins. They tell about revolts and wars but also about redemption and freedom.
German Medieval Coinage
In the Early Middle Ages, the one-sided, thin silver pfennigs or Bracteates (from Latin bractea, 'leaf') were a local currency in German-speaking areas. Despite a weight of less than 1 g. they are of outstanding quality and belong to the most curious and interesting types of coins among the pennies of the German Middle ages.
Proof of good Silver
Collectors love the distinctive look of the Roman serrated Denarii. Derived from the Latin word "serratus", the saw-edge was used to prove good silver content. Struck over a period of approx. 65 years (ca. 118-53 BC) the serrated Denarii testify the Roman ingenuity and are seen today as especially charming.