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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Archaic OriginsView Options:  |  |  |   

The Archaic Origins of Coinage

The coins below are among the first struck by mankind. Coins struck in the later classical and Hellenistic periods, but in archaic or archaized style are also included here. Click here to read "From the Origin of Coins to Croesus."


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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As reported by B.V. Head in Chapter 5 of Excavations at Ephesus: The Archaic Artemisia, a coin of this type was one of five coins found in excavations underneath the foundations of the southern wall of the B cella of the Artemisia at Ephesus. The other four coins were lion head and lion paw types. Head wrote these coins must have been deposited during construction of the First Temple (A). Weidauer 145 is the coin found at the Artemisia (= Head Artemisia 79), now at the Arkeoloji Müzesi, Istanbul. The Weidauer coins appear to be struck with the same obverse die.
SH84450. Electrum 1/24 stater, Milesian standard; Weidauer 145 - 146; Head Artemisia p. 86 and pl. 2, 79; cf. SNGvA 1781 (different style); Rosen 287 (same); SNG Kayhan 717 (same), gVF, centered, edge cracks, some die rust (also found on other examples of this type), weight 0.579 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse bridled head and neck of Pegasos left, with top edge of wing visible; reverse four raised squares in a cross pattern within incuse square punch; very rare; $1620.00 (€1441.80)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. In early Greek art, Sirens were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers, and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps. Later Sirens were sometimes depicted as beautiful women, whose bodies, not only their voices, were seductive.
SH84464. Electrum hemihekte, Unpublished in major references; Naville auction VII (1924), Bement Collection, lot 1435; CNG, Triton XI (8 Jan 2008), lot 253, aEF, tight flan, earthen deposits, weight 1.367 g, maximum diameter 8.8 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse siren standing left; reverse incuse square punch; ex Numismatica Ars Classica, auction 92, part 2 (24 May 2016), lot 1476; this type is not published in the major references but many examples are known from auctions; rare; $1440.00 (€1281.60)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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The referenced Triton XIV coin is similar, but from different dies, and the only other coin of this type known to Forum.
SH84465. Electrum 1/24 stater, Unpublished in references; Classical Numismatic Group, Triton XIV (4 Jan 2011), lot 309 ($1800 plus fees), VF, well centered on a tight flan, edge cracks, weight 0.630 g, maximum diameter 7.1 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse cock standing left; reverse quadripartite incuse square punch; extremely rare; $1350.00 (€1201.50)
 


Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Darios I - Xerxes II, c. 485 - 420 B.C.

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This type was minted in Lydia in Anatolia, while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest. The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire
SH84767. Gold daric, Carradice Type IIIb A/B, SNG Cop 275, SGCV II 4679, F, bumps and marks, die wear, weight 8.295 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, c. 485 - 420 B.C.; obverse kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, bearded, wearing crown and kidaris, a quiver at his shoulder, transverse spear downward in right hand, bow in extended left hand; reverse irregular approximately rectangular punch; $1350.00 (€1201.50)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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SH84753. Electrum 1/24 stater, Phokaic standard, SNG Kayhan 719, Weidauer -, Rosen -, Traité I -, VF, well centered, die wear, scratches, weight 0.638 g, maximum diameter 6.1 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse boar head left, linear form; reverse incuse irregular roughly square punch; extremely rare; $1200.00 (€1068.00)
 


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Rough Irregular "Typeless" Type

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Some sales catalogs describe similar coins as the striated type. The roughly parallel lines on the striated type appear to be impressed into the "obverse" by lines cut into the anvil. On this coin, it appears the rough irregular "typeless" surface is simply flattened rough pre-strike features from the raw irregular nugget-like "planchet." Based on the apparent wear on the reverse punch, huge numbers of this type may have been struck. Very few have survived. This is the first example handled by Forum.
SH77378. Electrum 1/24 stater, cf. SNGvA 7768, SNG Kayhan 682, Traité I 14 -15, Weidauer -, Rosen -, VF, weight 0.647 g, maximum diameter 5.7 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened rough irregular "typeless" surface; reverse roughly square incuse pyramidal punch with striated sides, divided roughly in half by a raised irregular line, striated sides and the irregular line appear to be the result of wear; very rare; $970.00 (€863.30)
 


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS85068. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, VF, attractive archaic style, well struck, toned, some marks and bumps, small edge cracks, weight 17.101 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, part of lot 1906; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

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Mankind's first coin type! Rare and important. This is an example of the very earliest form of coinage; a type-less (blank) electrum globule, weighed to a specific standard, with a simple square punch mark on one side (two or three punch marks on larger denominations). Nine similar electrum pieces were within the famous "Artemision Find" at Ephesus in 1904.
SH84751. Electrum 1/24th stater, SNG Kayhan 678, Weidauer -, Rosen -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, VF, bumps, marks, and scratches, reverse struck with a damaged punch (one corner broken), weight 1.129 g, maximum diameter 6.9 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse incuse punch: roughly square pyramid with sides striated from wear; rare; $720.00 (€640.80)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references but known from auction listings, some of which fail to notice the two "eyes."
SH84755. Electrum hemihekte, 1/12 stater Lydo-Milesian standard; cf. CNG auction (9 Mar 2016), lot 156 (same dies); Elektron I 9 corr.; Weidauer -; Traité I -; SNG Kayhan -, aVF, scratches, weight 1.136 g, maximum diameter 7.8 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse plain with to pellets side-by-side on the edge (crude scarab beetle?); reverse irregular six-lobed incuse pattern; very rare; $700.00 (€623.00)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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The referenced coins are not very similar. It might be more appropriate to describe this coin as unpublished but perhaps the pattern is purely random and it is from the same mint and issue as the Kayhan or Von Aulock coin.
SH76827. Electrum 1/24 stater, cf. SNG Kayhan 688, SNGvA 7768, (neither very similar), Weidauer -, Rosen -, Traité I -, Mitchiner ATEC -, Zhuyuetang -, VF, weight 0.710 g, maximum diameter 6.8 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse random(?) pattern of shapes and pellets; reverse a roughly square incuse punch with a central pellet surrounded by a random(?) pattern of curved lines; $500.00 (€445.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Imhoof-Blumer, F. ed. Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands. (1898 - 1913).
Kagan, J. "An Archaic Greek coin hoard from the Eastern Mediterranean and early Cypriot coinage" in NC 1994.
Karwiese, S. Die Münzprägung von Ephesos. I. Die Anfänge: Die ältesten Prägungen und der Beginn der Münzprägung überhaupt. (Cologne/Weimar, 1995)
Kim, H.S. & J.H. Kroll. "A Hoard of Archaic Coin of Colophon and Unminted Silver (CH I.3)" in AJN 20 (2008).
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Poole, R.S. ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Thrace, etc. (London, 1877).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock. (Berlin, 1957-1968).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
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Van Alfen, P., M. Almagro-Gorbea, and P. Ripollès. "A New Celtiberian Hacksilber Hoard, c. 200 BCE" in AJN 20. (New York, 2008).
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Catalog current as of Thursday, May 25, 2017.
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The Archaic Origins of Coinage