Destruction of Emperors’ Images on Roman Coins from the ANS Collection

Numerous coins from the Roman collection of the American Numismatic Society make an outstanding portrait gallery of the founders and rulers of the Roman Empire and reflect the historical development of this society’s rise and fall.

Among these is a silver denarius with a laureate head of Julius Caesar, struck in the early months of 44 BC under the magistrate M. Mettius. Caesar was the first Roman ruler whose portrait bust appeared on Roman coins during his lifetime to represent his absolute power.

Fig. 1. ANS 1937.158.290

Caesar’s assassination at the hands of conspiring senators is commemorated on a silver denarius struck in northern Greece, ca. 43–42 BCE. It illustrates the chief conspirator, Brutus, on the obverse, while the reverse names the date of the deed—the Ides of March—and illustrates the assassins’ daggers and the pileus cap, a symbol of liberty.

Fig. 2. ANS 1944.100.4554

Another remarkable example in the collection is a gold aureus of Caesar’s nephew Octavian, the future first Roman emperor, Augustus (27 BC–AD 14). It was struck in Gaul, ca. 43 BCE. This coin bears the portrait of Octavian on the obverse and an image of Julius Caesar on the reverse and advertises Octavian’s relationship to Caesar, who was proclaimed a divinity. It was extraordinary for ancient Rome and became a sign of Octavian’s growing power and his transformation into an autocrat.

Fig. 3. ANS 1967.153.29

Among the Society’s coins of the early period of the Roman Empire are a sestertius with the bust of Agrippina the Elder (14 BCE–33 CE), granddaughter of Augustus, and a bronze as with an image of Germanicus (15 BCE–19 CE), prominent general, known for his military campaigns in Germania. The coins depicting this legendary couple, issued by their youngest son, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known by his nickname “Caligula,” demonstrated the family connection among the first emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

            Fig. 4. ANS 1957.172.1524

            Fig. 5. ANS 1957.172.1522

Caligula (“Little Boots”, as how his father’s soldiers called him), became emperor at the age of 25. He has passed into history as a ruthless and violent emperor, known for his eccentric actions. However, the images of Caligula on his coins do not give any hint of his brutal personality; on his coins he looks very much like other members of the Julio-Claudian family, with the typical forked locks of hair over the forehead and very few individualized facial features.

Fig. 6. ANS 1944.100.39337

During his short reign (37–41 CE), Caligula declared himself a god and tried to exclude the Senate from the political process to establish an absolute monarchy in Rome. This situation finally led to his murder on January 24, 41 CE. He was so hated that he received the dubious distinction of being the first Roman ruler whose memory was condemned. This damnatio memoriae, “condemnation of memory,”included the destruction of his statues and public inscriptions. His coins did not escape this condemnation; they were pulled from circulation and melted down whenever possible. Some of them were countermarked, like several bronze coins from the ANS collection. These bear the countermark TICA celebrating the new emperor Tiberius Claudius Augustus and also effacing the features of Caligula’s portrait.

            Fig. 7. ANS 1953.171.1075

            Fig. 8. ANS 1953.1079.1082

Another Roman ruler, mostly remembered for his extravagance and tyrannical behavior, was the emperor Nero (54–68 CE). After his suicide on 9 June 68 CE, the Senate formally declared him an official enemy of the Roman state and his memory was condemned. His commemorative monuments, such as the triumphal arch in Rome honoring victories in Armenia seen on an ANS sestertius, were destroyed.

Fig. 9. ANS 1937.158.472

Neronian bronze coins, like the Caligula coins before, were countermarked. The stamp SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) not only canceled and revalidated Nero’s coins, but also symbolically reclaimed them for the Senate and Roman People.

            Fig. 10. ANS 1953.171.1308

The last of the Flavian emperors, Domitian (81–96 CE), became the third ruler whose memory was condemned. His persecutions of the nobility and his unstable and megalomaniacal behavior led to his assassination on 18 September 96 CE. His wife Domitia Longina was allegedly involved in this murder. On coins struck for Cibyra in Asia Minor, whose obverse originally depicted facing busts of Domitian and Domitia, the portrait of Domitian has been defaced as a result of his damnation, while the image of his wife has been left intact.

Another example of numismatic damnatio appeared over 100 years later. It was connected with the most notorious condemnation in the history of the Roman Empire. The emperor Septimius Severus (193–211 CE) planned that both of his sons, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as “Caracalla” (198–217 CE), and Publius Septimius Geta (209–211 CE), should rule the Empire jointly after his death. Indeed, these two attempted to share power after Septimius Severus died on 4 February 211 CE. However, on 26 December 211 CE, Geta was murdered as a result of an allegation that he had been involved in a plot to assassinate his brother Caracalla. He was immediately declared a hostis, an enemy of the Empire, and Caracalla demanded that statues and coins which carried Geta’s image be melted down. Geta’s coins survive in enough quantity to indicate that destruction of his coinage was not extensive. However, Geta’s name and representation were eliminated from various coins struck in the eastern provinces. Some bronze examples in the collection of the American Numismatic Society attest the destruction of Geta’s portraits. Some of these coins also have been countermarked with a small image of a helmeted female head and the inscription ΘEOY, referring to Caracalla’s position as son of the deified Septimius Severus.

            Fig. 11. ANS 1971.230.20

            Fig. 12. ANS 1953.171.830

            Fig. 13. ANS 1967.152.461

The practice of attacking the images on coins, as well as countermarking of the coins of condemned emperors, lasted into the third century. It was an effective way of slandering defeated rulers, as well announcing loyalty to the new emperors. The enormous propaganda power of Roman coins, which circulated through the vast territories of the Empire, declared the strength of the Roman state, which seemed in those centuries like it would never be destroyed.

The Free Silver Campaign of 1896 and its Influence on African-American Voters

In the latest issue of the ANS Magazine, Helena Kagan wrote an admirable article that articulated the nuances of the Free Silver campaign led by Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan, during the Presidential race of 1896. Republicans, with William McKinley as their candidate, were in favor of keeping the gold standard as the sole basis for our nation’s currency. This group of monometallists was dubbed the “St. Louis platform.” Democrats on the other hand were for the free coinage of silver, allowing silver and gold to circulate together at a rate of 16:1—polymetallists known as the “Chicago platform.” Notably, as Kagan concludes, Bryan and the Free Silver campaign was not a mere blip in United States politics that was gone by the next election cycle, but one that had initiated a shift of progressive ideals towards the Democratic Party that culminated with President Franklin D. Roosevelt—who often receives credit for this turn. In fact, Kagan notes that much of the New Deal had incorporated much of the Democratic platform of 1896 and the basic motives for Bryan are now fully implemented into the national monetary system. While the United States uses neither gold nor silver coinage, the fiat currency now in circulation largely encapsulates the spirit of the Free Silver campaign.

In the 1890s, there was, perhaps, no other group of people where this shift was more apparent than with African-American voters. Despite being largely disenfranchised and driven from the political process in much of the United States, various African-American leaders voiced their opinion on the topic of the currency standards of the United States. A number of these leaders backed the Democrats on the free coinage of silver, even going as far as throwing their entire support behind the Democratic Party and against the Party of Lincoln, supporting the same Democrats who were the most active in keeping African-Americans voters from participating in the political processes. In May of 1895, for instance, the Daily Public Ledger commented that “the Democratic Party is always for something free. It has advocated free whisky and Free-trade, and of course it must next declare for free silver. The only thing which the Democrats did not want free was the Negro.”[1]

In his Advice to the Colored Voters of the United States (1896), John Duker, African-American author and proprietor argued two main reasons of why the usage of silver alongside gold would be beneficial to the economy, and why this would not reduce the national currency to “commercial demoralization,” as many monometallists had predicted. The first is that the usage of silver “will give this country the full benefit of its product of the white metal, which is more than one half of the output of the world.”[2] Under the gold standard, the Treasury Department clearly did not use silver to maximum capabilities. The millions of ounces of silver that the federal government was required to purchase—as stipulated in the Bland-Allison Act of 1878—were coined into silver dollars and placed into Treasury vaults, where they remained until the 1950s and 1960s, only to be melted or sold for face value. Duker also stated that the usage of silver would also “increase the circulation medium, or foster business enterprises and increase wages.”[3] With a bimetallic system, more money could circulate, which would result in more business, better wages, and an overall more efficient economy.

Figure 1. George E. Taylor, African-American journalist and politician, helped sway the decisions of voters towards the Free Silver campaign.

George Edwin Taylor (1857–1925), African-American journalist and politician, took the same stance, but related the issue to class struggles (fig. 1). In Why We Should Favor the Chicago Platform, Taylor stated “that the laboring classes enjoy some of the society of silver money, is a truth, and that the gold barons have cunningly garnered away the gold in such a manner as to actually hold the government upon her knees.” While asking rhetorical questions, Taylor used many words that his target audience could relate to. He asks, “Can you, my fellow Negro, reason out any objections that you should make to the remonetization, or the liberation of silver? Can you answer to your own satisfaction, ‘Why should gold be king and silver slave?’ Are you afraid that silver will drive from your pocket book the gold that you now possess?”[4] By using such words as “liberation” and “slave,” Taylor relates the struggle of silver to that of African-American identity. In 1904, Taylor became the first African-American to official run for President of the United States, under the National Negro Liberty Party.

This shift of support from Republican issues to those of the Democratic Party may not have roused the entire African-American community, but it was also not isolated to these two men. Several African-American organizations were created to attract others to this cause. On October 6, 1896, The Morning Times from Washington, D.C. stated that “a number of colored free silver Democrats met at the Interstate Democratic headquarters last evening. An organization was effected to be known as the Negro Free Silver League.” Not surprisingly, the elected vice chairman of the organization was none other than John Duker.[5] In addition to national Free Silver organizations for African-Americans, there were also more localized efforts. For instance, by late August of 1896, Topeka, Kansas had three distinct organizations for the cause. J. R. Lyttle, organizer of the Free Silver Negro League of Topeka, noted that “this fight is not so much a party fight, as it is one for Americanism.” The first meeting, held at 615 North Kansas Avenue, comprised of only eighteen members, who elected Alfred Kuykendall as President, B. Elder as Vice President, and P. Gibson as Secretary (fig. 2).[6]

Figure 2. Alfred Kuykendall was elected President of the Free Silver Negro League of Topeka in 1896—one of many local organizations that championed the cause.

Amongst white Americans, there was some pushback in the political shift by African-Americans. For instance, the Staunton Spectator reported that “Gold bug Democrats have found a new excuse for quitting the party. The last one is because the negroes are going for free silver.”[7] Other accounts focused on racist stereotypes of African-Americans to demean their political actions and ideologies. The Evening Times of Washington, D.C., for example, reported that when M. Hoke Smith—at the time, the United States Secretary of the Interior—was in Georgia, he asked an African-American voter whether or not he was for Free Silver, the man “scratched his woolly head and said: ‘Wal, Mars’ Smif, I did favor free silber, suah’s you’s b’n, leetle while ago. But since you’s been in de State, Mars’ Smif, de ‘taters am a-growin’ and de ‘possum getting’ plenty. An’ I tell you what ‘tis, Mars’ Smif, gib dis here niggah plenty ‘possum and ‘taters, and’ yum, yum! Get up, chile an’ sing halluyah! I doan’ want no free silber. ‘Possum an’ ‘taters an’ free gol am good nuff fer me.’”[8]

The Free Silver campaign resulted in hundreds of different of types of tokens and medals struck for the cause—many others against. Several of these were highlighted in Kagan’s ANS Magazine article. Perhaps one of the most glaring difference between Free Silver organizations led by white Americans and those founded by African-American is the lack of numismatic material. Despite the hundreds of tokens and medals, none were issued by any of the latter groups. The Free Silver campaign ended up failing. Although Bryan lost the election, it laid the groundwork for future shifts in the US political system. At the time, the issue aroused enough people to actually initiate a shift in African-American support towards the Democratic Party—something that was unheard of before the New Deal of the 1930s.


[1] Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, KY), May 14, 1895: 2.

[2] Duker, 11.

[3] Duker, 11.

[4] Taylor, 7–8.

[5] The Morning Times, October 6, 1896.

[6] “Another Free Silver Club: J. R. Lyttle Organizes a Third Colored Club of 18 Members,” The Topeka State Journal, August 26, 1896: 1.

[7] Staunton Spectator (Staunton, VA), July 15, 1896: 2.

[8] “Sent from Washington,” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), August 16, 1895: 4.

The Atlantic International Club, 1864

ANS 1967.225.23
ANS 1967.225.23

Among the more unusual and curious objects in the ANS’s collection is a silver medal (ANS 1967.225.23) 56.8 mm in diameter that was donated to the Society, along with ca. 3,000 other medals, in 1967 by the Wadsworth Athenaeum, which had received the medals as a bequest from J. Coolidge Hills in the 1920s. The obverse of the medal depicts the paddlewheel steamship RMS Persia and is inscribed “The Atlantic International Club” along with the dates of a voyage from New York City to Liverpool between April 20th and 30th, 1864. The reverse of the medal lists the “Members” of the Club including A.H. Schultz, Pres., Robt. Nicol, Treas., C.L. Derby, Theodore C. Weeks, Lt. Col. W.S. O’Connor, J.W. Bates, and the “Honorary Member,” Henry D. Cooke. There is no record of such a Club existing in either the US or England so it is probable that this medal commemorates an ephemeral association of a half dozen or so gentlemen who perhaps met for the first time and formed friendships during their ten-day Atlantic crossing in April 1864.

RMS Persia
RMS Persia

For roughly twenty years between the end of the 1830s and the end of the 1850s, paddlewheel steamships had superseded sailing packets as the fastest and most luxurious means of crossing the Atlantic, before they in turn were replaced by propeller driven steamships. Launched in 1856, RMS Persia was, for a brief period, the Cunard line’s flagship and held between 1856 and 1863 the Blue Riband, top honors for the fastest east bound and west bound Atlantic crossings. By 1864, Persia’s glory days were waning and it would be just a few more years before she was taken out of service. Nevertheless, Persia was still an impressive ship and offered passengers exceptional service on a preeminent trans-Atlantic line. Presumably, the members of the Club were reasonably prominent and well-to-do (club-)men, who arguably were not traveling in steerage but rather paid the full $80 first class fare on Cunard (ca. $1,400 today) and could afford to commission and strike such a medal afterwards. But who were they?

To date, I have been able to find few clues in various sources like British and American directories about Theodore C. Weeks, Robert Nicol, or Lt. Col. O’Connor, or indeed which military–US, British, or Irish?–he might have served. With the Civil War raging at the time of this crossing, it is unlikely that a Confederate Lieutenant Colonel would board a ship in New York City! The New York City Directory for 1864 provides clues about the identity of some of the others. The Club’s president might have been Alexander H. Schultz, who lived on West 25th Street, and perhaps the namesake of a steam tugboat launched in New York City in 1850 that was later converted into the warship USS Columbine as part of the effort to blockade the Confederates. Justus W. Bates was a broker with offices on Hudson Street and a home on Spring Street. It is unclear if the honorary member of the Club, Henry D. Cooke, is the same fellow of that name who was based in Washington, D.C. (later he was the first Governor of the District of Columbia) co-running a financial operation with his brother Jay that was profiteering off of the War. Chauncey L. Derby, with an office on lower Broadway, was an art dealer, who had been instrumental ten years earlier in acquiring the third version of Hiram Powers enormously popular statue “The Greek Slave” for the Cosmopolitan Art Association.

Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave
Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave

In other words, few, if any of these men left a significant mark aside from this token presumably made to commemorate a memorable voyage they took together on RMS Persia in the spring of 1864 and gave their small group the grand name of the “Atlantic International Club”, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek.

First known photographs of Adra Newell Discovered Online

Some years ago I wrote about Edward Newell and his wife Adra for ANS Magazine (2014/3). Edward, the Society’s president for 25 years (1916–1941), is well known to numismatists. A prolific author and scholar in the area of Greek coinage, his bequest of more than 87,000 coins still ranks as the Society’s largest single donation. Though less familiar, his wife Adra was also a collector, an active member for over 50 years, and, as discussed in my article, a sometimes contentious presence at the ANS. She joined the Society in 1910, was named a patron in 1925, and a benefactor in 1952.

1936.159.1.obv.noscale REDUCED
Uniface medal by Theodore Spicer-Simson (ANS 1936.159.1)

One factor that has prevented us from making a more personal connection with Adra has been the absence of any photographs of her. While there are many of her husband, until recently the only known image of Adra was a profile portrait  on a 1911 medal by Theodore Spicer-Simson.

1923 Adra Passport STRAIGHTENED
Adra Newell passport photograph, 1923

Now, however, thanks to the online sleuthing of researcher Dr. Leah Niederstadt, we have several photographs of Adra. Dr. Niederstadt is an associate professor of museum studies and curator of the permanent collection at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, which in 1966 was the recipient of a bequest from Adra consisting of over a thousand Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities. In 2014, Dr. Niederstadt came to New York to have a look at some materials in the ANS Archives, research used for her article, “Building a Legacy for the Liberal Arts: Deaccessioning the Newell Bequest, Wheaton College,” which was published in the book Is it Okay to Sell the Monet? (2018).

1919 Adra Edward Passport CROPPED
Adra and Edward Newell passport photographs, 1919

1921 Adra Edward Passport CROPPED
Adra and Edward Newell passport photographs, 1921

The images she found were passport photographs on familysearch.org, a free genealogical website sponsored by the Mormon Church. The image quality isn’t the greatest on a few of them, but there is one from 1923 that is clear, and it shows, as Dr. Niederstadt points out, a great resemblance to the medal portrait.

A big thank you to Dr. Niederstadt for uncovering these important photographs!

Some Greek and Roman overstrikes in the ANS Collection

While perusing the ever-surprising Richard B. Witchonke Collection at the ANS for its forthcoming published catalogue, I had the great luck to study a few overstruck coins with fairly unique features. This post represents a succinct attempt at describing at least part of the importance of these specimens.

In his Overstruck Greek Coins, David MacDonald defines overstruck coins as “coins that have been ‘recoined’ by striking them with new and different dies, whether by the original minting authority or by a different one, without having the original design completely removed beforehand.” Overstriking was usually preferred to recoining when limits in time or in the size of the coinage that needed to be produced made the expenses and the labor to melt and produce new flans unfeasible. Overstriking was done for a variety of reasons, ranging from eminently economic ones to (possibly) ideological. Overstruck coins are thus a powerful to investigate the complexities of coin circulation and production in the antiquity. Their historical importance has not escaped the attention of the scientific community and the necessity of a more systematic cataloging has lead to the creation of Greek Overstrikes Database (GOD), a still ongoing project under the scientific direction of the aforementioned D. MacDonald and François de Callataÿ. Of course, overstriking was not limited to the Greek world. Roman overstrikes have been studied as early as the mid- nineteenth century by the likes of Pierre Philippe Bourlier d’Ailly, Max Bahrfeldt, Ettore Gabrici, Charles Hersch, Rudi Thomsen, and Michael Crawford. Much more recently, Clive Stannard and Suzanne Frey-Kupper used overstrikes to study the circulation and production patterns of Central Italian mints and Andrew McCabe analyzed the Roman over Roman overstrikes on bronze and silver coins of the second and first century BC.

Figure 1. ANS 2015.20.2032.
Figure 1. ANS 2015.20.2032.

While several factors are usually at play, the necessity of altering the area of circulation of a certain coinage could be the main factor leading to overstriking in some cases, as shown by the Y. Touratsoglou and by the same MacDonald for the bronze civic coinage of Macedonia in the course of the second century BC. The necessity of broadening the circulation area and relieving local shortages of small change could also be the explanation for Fig. 1, an apparently Roman sextans struck over a Neapolitan bronze coin. In a forthcoming paper, Stannard convincingly attributes this coin to the newly discovered Second Punic War mint of Minturnae. Through overstrikes like the one presented in Fig. 1 the mint of Minturnae was “adapting” Neapolitan coinage to a larger circulation radius by adding on it Roman types. While the weight of these pseudo-Roman issues differed from the official Roman production, the types on them made them their value immediately recognizable to users.

Figure 2. ANS 2015.20.2393.
Figure 2. ANS 2015.20.2393.

Figure 3. Illyria, Apollonia. Silver drachm. Early second century BC. ΑΡΙΣΤΩΝ. Cow suckling calf left. In exergue, monogram AP/ ΑΠΟΛ - ΛΥ- ΣΗ - NOΣ. Double stellate pattern within double linear square with sides curved inwards. 3.13 g. SNG Cop. 387. Münzzentrum Rheinland 191, 3 June 2020, lot 32.
Figure 3. Illyria, Apollonia. Silver drachm. Early second century BC. ΑΡΙΣΤΩΝ. Cow suckling calf left. In exergue, monogram AP/ ΑΠΟΛ – ΛΥ- ΣΗ – NOΣ. Double stellate pattern within double linear square with sides curved inwards. 3.13 g. SNG Cop. 387. Münzzentrum Rheinland 191, 3 June 2020, lot 32.

Another factor leading to overstriking was wear. In same cases unofficial coins could be overstruck on obsolete coins, as in the case of a Dacian imitation of a denarius struck over a drachm from Apollonia (SNG Cop. 387) (Figs. 2–3) This coin, an imitation from Dacia of a denarius issued by L. Flaminius Chilo in 109/8 BC, shows on the obverse part of the legend [API] ΣΤΩΝ of the undertype. The vestigia of the name of the magistrate allow for the dating of the overstruck Apollonian drachm, which is dated to the early second century BC. The reverse of the coin clearly shows part of the undertype []ΝΟΣ. A combination of all the factors mentioned above (wear, scantiness of local coinages, and thus alteration of the original circulation area) could explain the massive presence of foreign and obsolete coins as undertypes for the bronze coins produced in the Roman world, as shown by Stannard and Frey-Kupper in a recent article.

Figure 4. Rome. Bronze sextans. 215–212 BC. Head of Mercury, right. Prow, right; below, denominational mark (two pellets). Above, ROMA. 11.03 g. 26.5 mm. RRC 41/9. Hersch 1953, p. 51, n. 39d. ANS 2015.20.1791.
Figure 4. Rome. Bronze sextans. 215–212 BC. Head of Mercury, right. Prow, right; below, denominational mark (two pellets). Above, ROMA. 11.03 g. 26.5 mm. RRC 41/9. Hersch 1953, p. 51, n. 39d. ANS 2015.20.1791.

A change in the weight standard adopted by the issuing mint was also another reason leading to overstrikes, as illustrated by Fig. 4. This coin, a triental sextans (RRC 41/9) struck over a semilibral uncia (RRC 38/6) is dated to the years 215–212 BC and shows how the sudden decreases in weight standard that took place in the course of the Second Punic War could produce overstruck coins in massive amounts. Also, silver coins were likely to be overstruck if they differed from the weight standard adopted in the area they were circulating. Coins of similar weight standards were easier to overstrike, but there also was less need to do so. On the other hand, coins of heavier weight standard were reduced to a lighter weight standard by trimming the flan and then overstruck.

Figure 5. ANS 2015.20.1273.
Figure 5. ANS 2015.20.1273.

Figure 6. ANS 2015.20.2135.
Figure 6. ANS 2015.20.2135.

This is the case of Fig. 5. This coin, a cistophorus from Ephesus dated to 140–139 BC, has been struck over a Macedonian tetradrachm of First Meris (Fig. 6), issued after 168 BC, as suggested by the thunderbolt still visible on the reverse. This specimen has been included in a 2011 AJN article by de Callataÿ. Since the introduction of the reduced standard cistophoric tetradrachm under the king Eumenes II, the Attalid kingdom became a closed currency area (on substantiated objections to this point of view see this article by Andrew Meadows). Silver coins on different standards thus needed to be trimmed and overstruck in order to circulate freely. This overstruck coin opens a window over the complex monetary and political interactions in the Mediterranean in the second half of the second century BC. In de Callataÿ’s words, “at the end of the Attalid dominion, tetradrachms coming from the Northern Aegean area were chosen intentionally to issue some specific batches of cistophoric tetradrachms. This was not a random process, since there is no reason to believe that coins from the First Macedonian Meris or Thasos were particularly common at the border of the Asian Province. […] The question is: which power organized this movement of coinage? To my mind, the answer points in the Roman direction, even with Asia Minor still technically under Attalid rule.”

Figure 7. ANS 2015.20.2662.
Figure 7. ANS 2015.20.2662.

Figure 8. ANS 2015.20.2196.
Figure 8. ANS 2015.20.2196.

The convergence of Eastern Mediterranean monetary systems under Roman dominion is also shown by other two very interesting overstrikes. In Fig. 7, a silver tetradrachm from Thasus, dated to 90–75 BC, is struck over a Macedonian tetradrachm issued under the Roman quaestor Aesillas. Conversely, in Fig. 8 a Macedonian tetradrachm of Aesillas is struck over a Thasian one. The mutual overstrikes of Thasian and Macedonian tetradrachms shows that these two coinages were roughly ontemporary, but also that in the course of the first century BC the monetary systems of the Eastern provinces of Roman Empire became increasingly integrated.

Figure 9. ANS 2015.20.1037.
Figure 9. ANS 2015.20.1037.

Figure 10. ANS 2015.20.2145.
Figure 10. ANS 2015.20.2145.

Another very interesting case of overstrike is represented by Figs. 9–10. The first of these coins, issued by the Roman quaestor Gaius Publilius either after 168 BC either after 148 BC, is clearly struck over a Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ issue. Given the high number of similarly overstruck coins, D. Macdonald suggested that the Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ issues, characterized by the absence of the head of Rome on the obverse were issued after 148 BC, twenty years after the ones issued under Gaius Publilius, to highlight the independence of Macedonia, a Roman province by then. However, the overstruck coins presented in Fig. 10 suggest otherwise. While the undertype is not clearly recognizable, the letters still visible on the reverse suggest that this Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ coin was struck over a specimen issued by the Roman quaestors, even if it not clear whether Fulcinnius or Publilius. This overstruck coin this invalidates the chronology proposed by Macdonald and suggests that the coinages issued by the Roman quaestors and the Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ one were most likely contemporary, even if it is not clear whether they should be dated to 168 or 148 BC.

Figure 11. ANS 2015.20.2031.
Figure 11. ANS 2015.20.2031.

Figure 12. ANS 2015.20.2041.
Figure 12. ANS 2015.20.2041.

Lastly, overstrikes could shed some light on the financing of armies. The ones presented here (Figs. 11–12), Roman quadrantes struck respectively over Iero II’s and Carthage bronze coins, are a clear indication of the hasted production of Roman coinage in Sicily in the course of the Second Punic War. The most probable explanation for such haste was of course the necessity of paying the armies fighting at the time in the island.

In conclusion, the overstruck coins are important heuristic tools to better understand ancient monetary systems. In the specific, the ones included in the Richard B. Witschonke Collection at the American Numismatic  Society present in same cases unique characteristics which make them even more valuable to the historian and the numismatist.