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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ MusicView Options:  |  |  |   

Music on Ancient Coins

Kolophon, Ionia, c. 490 - 400 B.C.

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The kithara (cithara) was an ancient stringed musical instrument resembling the lyre. The lyre was a simpler folk-instrument with two strings and tortoise shell body. The kithara had seven strings and a flat back. The kithara is a symbol of Apollo and he is credited with inventing it. Its true origins were likely Asiatic.. The kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes. In modern Greek, the word kithara has come to mean "guitar."
GS86610. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 135 (same dies), Milne Colophon 13b, SNGvA -, SNG Mn -, VF, centered on an irregularly shaped flan, toned, etched surfaces, die break on reverse , weight 5.341 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 270o, Kolophon (near Degirmendere Fev, Turkey) mint, c. 490 - 400 B.C.; obverse KOΛOΦΩN (retrograde, counterclockwise), laureate head of Artemis right, wearing earring and necklace, hair in a queue looped up and bound to wreath; reverse Kithara, in an incuse square; ex Savoca Numismatik, auction 1 (9 Apr 2015), lot 189; rare; $270.00 (229.50)


Chalkidian League, Olynthos, Macedonia, c. 432 - 348 B.C.

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In 432 B.C. Olynthos broke away from Athens and, with several other cities, formed the Chalkidian league. In 393, Amyntas III of Macedonia temporally transferred territory to Olynthos when he was driven out of Macedonia by Illyrians. When he was restored and the league did not return his lands, he appealed to Sparta. Akanthos and Apollonia, also appealed to Sparta, claiming league membership was not voluntary but enforced at the point of a sword. After a long war, in 379 these cities were made "autonomous" subject allies of Sparta. Weakened by the division, the league was destroyed by Philip II of Macedon in 348 B.C.
GS87687. Silver tetrobol, BMC Macedonia p. 68, 13; SNG ANS 537, SNG Cop 235; SNG Dreer 266, SNG Berry 22, VF, light toning, tight flan, lightly etched surfaces, weight 2.228 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 270o, Olynthos mint, c. 432 - 348 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, circle of dots around; reverse XAΛKIAEΩN (clockwise from upper left), kithara (lyre) with seven strings, all within incuse; $240.00 (204.00)


Roman Republic, P. Clodius M.f. Turrinus, 42 B.C.

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This coin refers to the Sabine origin of the moneyer's family, worship of Diana was introduced into Rome by the Sabines.

Lucifer means lightbringer, from the Latin lux light and ferre to bear or bring. The word Lucifer is found in only one place in the Bible -- Isaiah 14:12 -- but only in the King James and related versions: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! The King James Version is based on the Vulgate, the Latin translation of Jerome. Jerome translated the Hebrew helel (bright or brilliant one) as lucifer, which was a reasonable Latin equivalent. And yet it is this lucifer, the bright one or lightbearer, that came to be understood by so many as the name for Satan, Lord of Darkness.
RR88401. Silver denarius, Crawford 494/23, RSC I Claudia 15, Sydenham 1117, BMCRR I Rome 4287, RBW Collection 1727, Sear CRI 184, SRCV I 492, gVF, attractive iridescent toning, high points flatly struck, small test cut on edge, off center, weight 3.735 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 42 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, lyre behind; reverse Diana Lucifera (the light bringer) standing slightly right, head right, holding two long lit torches, MF left, PCLODIVS right; $170.00 (144.50) ON RESERVE


Leontini, Sicily, c. 405 - 402 B.C.

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Leontini was founded as by colonists from Naxos in 729 BC, itself a Chalcidian colony established five years earlier. It was the only significant Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, being some 6 miles inland. The site, originally held by the Sicels, was seized by the Greeks owing to its command of the fertile plain to the north. The city was reduced to subject status in 498 BC by Hippocrates of Gela, and in 476 BC Hieron of Syracuse moved the inhabitants from Catania and Naxos to Leontini.
GI86576. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 77, 3/27 (this coin); SNG Cop 360; SNG ANS 270; SNG Morcom 606; SNG Lloyd 1070; BMC Sicily p. 92, 56; Laffaille 169; HGC 2 709 (R1), gVF, dark patina, well centered and struck, weight 2.165 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, Leontini mint, c. 405 - 402 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, olive leaf and olive behind; reverse tripod lebes with loop handles, a barley kernel flanking on each side, kithara between legs of tripod, three pellets in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 6 (22 Feb 2014), lot 45; Calciati III plate coin! ; $160.00 (136.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C., Struck in the Name of Philip

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Struck in the name of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great's half-brother, under the regent Perdikkas. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip was murdered by Olympias to ensure the succession of her grandson.
SH75320. Silver drachm, Price P43, Mller Alexander P50, SNG Mnchen 938, aEF, some die wear, weight 4.238 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ionia, Kolophon (near Degirmendere Fev, Turkey) mint, c. 323 - c. 319 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, Zeus Atophoros seated left on throne without back, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right foot drawn back, feet on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, lyre left; ex Forum (2005); $125.00 (106.25)


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

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In 243, Timesitheus, Gordian's father-in-law and praetorian prefect became ill and died under suspicious circumstances. Gordian III appointed Philip the Arab as his new praetorian prefect.
RB76166. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 303a, Hunter III 117, Cohen V 262, SRCV III 8732, Choice VF, attractive green patina with red earthen fill, nice portrait, well centered, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 17.522 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 4th issue, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Apollo enthroned left, laurel-branch in right hand, left forearm resting on lyre on back of his seat, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $125.00 (106.25)


Tarentum, Southern Apulia, Italy, c. 275 - 200 B.C.

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Tarentum's independence and power ended when the Romans expanded across Italy. Tarentum was aided by Pyrrhus, who surprised and defeated Rome with the use of war elephants. However, after Pyrrhus departed, the city surrendered in 272 B.C. In 209 B.C., Tarentum would suffer for supporting Hannibal. The commander of a Bruttian force betrayed the city to the Romans. Indiscriminate slaughter ensued and among the victims were the Bruttians who had betrayed the city. Thirty thousand of the Greek inhabitants were sold as slaves and the city's art treasures, including the statue of Nike (Victory) were carried off to Rome.
GI85894. Brass AE 14, Vlasto 1850, HN Italy 1092, SNG Morcom 259, aVF, rough, weight 2.212 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 180o, Tarentum (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 275 - 200 B.C.; obverse scallop shell; reverse kithara; very rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Lymira, Lycian League, Lycia, c. 167 - 84 B.C.

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Limyra was one of the oldest cities in Lycia, located near the southern coast of Anatolia, on the Limyrus River, about 5 1/2 km from its mouth. It was a prosperous small city with rich abundant soil, and became one of the finest Greek trade settlements. Pericles made it the capital of the Lycian League. Limyra was conquered by Cyrus the Great and remained under Persian control until it was conquered and sacked by Alexander the Great. The city is mentioned by Strabo (XIV, 666), Ptolemy (V, 3, 6) and several Latin authors. Gaius Caesar, adopted son of Augustus, died there. The ruins, about 5 km northeast of the town of Finike (ancient Phoenicus) in Antalya Province, Turkey, include a theater, tombs, sarcophagi, and about 3 km east is the Roman Bridge at Limyra, one of the oldest segmented arch bridges.Theater
GS88219. Silver hemidrachm, Troxell Lycia, p. 71, period II, series 2, 50; SNG Cop 77; BMC Lycia p. 60, 4; Waddington 3069; Hunterian II p. 501, 1, VF, porosity, multiple small edge splits/cracks, low relief as usual for this issue, weight 2.359 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Lymira (near Finike, Turkey) mint, c. 167 - 84 B.C. (series 2 of 3 in this period); obverse laureate head of Apollo right, hair rolled, bow and quiver over shoulder; reverse kithara (lyre), ΛYKIΩN above, Λ-I divided low across field, all within an incuse square; ex Wilson H. Guertin; $125.00 (106.25)


Roman Republic, Lucius Scribonius Libo, 62 B.C.

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The ruins of the Puteal Scribonianum were discovered in the Forum in 1950's. The reverse is either a play on Scribonius' name or the origin of his family name and the Scribonianum were related. Perhaps he was also a music lover explaining the lyres. The same type was also minted with an anvil or tongs in place of the hammer. Sear indicates the tools are symbolic of the moneyer's position. -- Roman Coins and Their Values by David R. Sear

Crawford believes the lyres may be purely decorative and the tools, symbols of Vulcan, recall that the Puteal was located on a spot that was struck by lightning. -- Roman Republican Coinage by Michael H. Crawford
RR88399. Silver denarius, Crawford 416/1a, Sydenham 928, RSC I Scribonia 8a, BMCRR I Rome 3377, RBW Collection 1500, SRCV I 367, gVF, toned well centered and struck, porous, weight 3.940 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 62 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Bonus Eventus right, BON EVENT downward before, LIBO downward behind; reverse Puteal Scribonianum, ornamented with garland and two lyres, hammer at base, PVTEAL above, SCRIBON in exergue; $120.00 (102.00)


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

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In 194, Septimius Severus Augustus and Clodius Albinus Caesar were the two Roman Consuls. Septimius Severus marched with his army of 12 legions to Cilicia and defeated Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria, at Battle of Issus. Pescennius retreated to Antioch but was executed by Severus' troops. For siding with Niger, Septimius Severus besieged Byzantium from 194 until 196; the city walls suffered extensive damage.
RS87230. Silver denarius, Bickford-Smith p. 56 & pl. I, 9; RIC IV 345 (R), BMCRE V W320, RSC III 42a; cf. SRCV II 6264 (Rome), F, light toning, tight flan, scratches, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.827 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria mint, Feb 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG, laureate head right; reverse APOLLINI AVGVSTO, Apollo standing slightly left, head left, patera in extended right hand, kithara in left hand; rare; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00 ON RESERVE




  



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