World Coins

Ancient coins in sale show Twelve Labors of Heracles

A bronze drachm of Antoninus Pius is one of 12 different coins in a series depicting the famed Labors of Heracles (or Hercules). This shows the Third Labor, of Heracles capturing the Cerynean Hind.

Coin images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

The Labors of Hercules (or Heracles) are a series of episodes relating to acts of penance that were carried out by Heracles (or Herakles).

His name was later Romanized as Hercules, and he is known as the greatest of Greek heroes. 

He completed these acts over 12 years at the service of King Eurystheus, and the events are commemorated on a series of bronze ancient coins issued for Antoninus Pius, who reigned from A.D. 138 to 161.

All of the coins were issued at varying points during the period from A.D. 140 to 146, and were issued for Alexandria in Egypt. 


The Dangers of Counterfeits”The quality of the coins is getting better, and so are the counterfeits. Europe is experiencing the same problems seen in the United States, warns Coin World's correspondent in Germany.


Classical Numismatic Group offers 12 individual lots in its Triton XXI auction Jan. 9 and 10 in New York City, each containing a bronze drachm depicting one of the sequential labors. 

The star among the coins is the coin for the Third Labor. Heracles was required to capture the Cerynean Hind (or Hind of Keryneia), with its brazen hooves and golden horns, alive and bring it from Oenoe to Mycenae. 

Heracles chased the stag for one full year before it finally tired, and then he captured it — as shown on the coin type. This type was struck at Alexandria for Pius’ regnal years 4, 5, 6, and 10.

The reverse shows Heracles standing at the right, grasping the antlers of the Cerynean Hind with both hands and leaning on its back with his left knee. 

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The example in the auction is graded Good Very Fine by the auction house, and features a “lovely dark brown patina with smooth surfaces.” 

Only two examples of this type, both “inferior,” have sold at auction since 2000, according to the firm.

This piece, from the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection, has an estimate of $15,000, representing about 25 percent of the $69,500 total of the estimates for all 12 of the Labors of Heracles coin lots in the auction. 

The coins are offered for sale individually, but present an opportunity for an aggressive bidder to create an instant, and classic, collection of popular ancient coins with meaning. 


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