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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Facing HeadsView Options:  |  |  |   

Facing Heads on Ancient Coins

Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

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Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB85628. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 486 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1210 var. (MOΨEIΩN), Rogers 412 var. (same), McClean 4648 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC -, gVF, green patina, bold centered strike on a tight flan, small pits including one on tip of nose., weight 7.719 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨEI-ATΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag; very rare; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, 404 - 370 B.C.

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When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late fifth century B.C., it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the local fountain nymph Larissa, for whom the town was named, probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses.
GS85151. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 380.18 (same dies), Lorber Early group IV H23, 65.1(a) (this obv. die), BCD Thessaly I 1144.2, Hoover HGC 430, Choice VF, toned, fine style, areas of light etching, weight 6.075 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, 404 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly right, wearing necklace, hair confined by ampyx and floating loosely; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, dotted exergual line, ΛAPI above; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); $510.00 SALE PRICE $459.00


Kamarina, Sicily, c. 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgůs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GI79953. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type C, 189; BMC Sicily p. 39, 36; Calciati III, p. 53, 16; SNG Stockholm 432; HGC 2 546; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -, Choice gVF, fine style, nice green patina, well centered and struck, light marks, very light corrosion, small edge split, weight 4.731 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) round face, wild locks, no hair band, large eyes, straight mouth; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right on right leg, grasping lizard with head down in the left talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue, Γ (control mark) right; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with rare examples signed E or EΞ. Stylistic differences suggest other engravers also worked the issue. This example, signed EE, is of the very finest style and clearly the work of Exakestidas. EΞ was probably intended. No other examples of the type signed EE are known to Forum.
SH83659. Bronze tetras, cf. Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29 (unlisted dies); SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG MŁn 1107; HGC 2 1432 (R1, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Tub -; SNG Morcom -, aEF, the finest style, nice green patina, light corrosion, edge flaws, weight 2.23 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing taenia, earring, and necklace, anepigraphic, EE (master engraver signature, blundered EΞ for Exakestidas) lower left below hair; reverse octopus; ex Savoca Numismatik GmbH & Co. KG, auction 6 (9 Apr 2015), lot 68; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00


Byzantine Empire, Justinian I, 4 April 527 - 14 November 565 A.D.

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Under Justinian Nicomedia was extended with new public buildings. Situated on the roads leading to the capital, the city remained a major military center, playing an important role in the Byzantine campaigns against the Caliphate.
BZ85014. Bronze half follis, DOC I 140, Wroth BMC 221, Tolstoi 343, Ratto 606, Hahn MIBE 116a.1, Sommer 4.68, SBCV 203, Morrison BnF -, Choice EF, bold full-circles strike on a broad flan, weight 11.596 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 195o, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, 538 - 539 A.D.; obverse D N IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, helmeted and cuirassed bust facing, globus cruciger in right hand, shield in left hand decorated with horseman right brandishing spear, cross right; reverse large K (20 nummi), cross above, ANNO left, XII (year 12) right, NI below; $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 405 - 370 B.C.

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The obverse of most of the coins of Larissa depicted the nymph of the local spring, Larissa, for whom the town was named. The choice was probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse usually depicted a horse in various poses. The horse was an appropriate symbol of Thessaly, a land of plains, which was well known for its horses. On other coins, there is a male figure, probably the eponymous hero of the Thessalians, Thessalos.
GS79835. Silver drachm, Lorber Early 89.1 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1148, BCD Thessaly II 215 var. (facing slightly right), VF, toned, area of corrosion, reverse double struck, uneven strike, weight 5.835 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 405 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, earring, and wire necklace; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, ΛAPIΣ above; ex Amphora Coins; $320.00 SALE PRICE $288.00


Rhodes, Carian Islands, c. Mid 4th Century B.C.

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This may be a fraction of the Pseudo-Rhodian "solar disk drachm" that Ashton suggests may be from Lampsakos under Memnon of Rhodes. Bronzes of a similar style are now known.
GS84169. Silver tetartemorion, Other than the two previous auction listings for this coin, apparently unpublished, VF, edge chip, weight 0.128 g, maximum diameter 6.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rhodos (Rhodes, Greece) mint, c. mid 4th century B.C.; obverse facing radiate head of Helios, delicate linear ring around; reverse rose bloom; ex CNG e-auction 377 (29 Jun 2016), lot 130; ex Numismatik Naumann Auction 39 (3 Jan 2016), lot 386; unique(?); $280.00 SALE PRICE $252.00


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76951. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 195.12; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; Calciati III p. 57, 24; SNG Cop 168; SNG Munchen V 410; HGC 2 547 (S); SNG ANS 1226 var. (style), gVF, well centered, attractive dark brown surfaces, some light corrosion, weight 3.552 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 225o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with neatly waved hair, pearled headband, smiling expression, dimpled cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $270.00 SALE PRICE $243.00


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 356 - 342 B.C.

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The obverse of most of the coins of Larissa depicted the nymph of the local spring, Larissa, for whom the town was named. The choice was probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse usually depicted a horse in various poses. The horse was an appropriate symbol of Thessaly, a land of plains, which was well known for its horses. On other coins, there is a male figure, probably the eponymous hero of the Thessalians, Thessalos.
GS73406. Silver drachm, Lorber Hoard pl. III, 27 (same dies); BCD Thessaly I 1158; BCD Thessaly II 316; SNG Cop 121; HGC 4 454, VF, well centered on a tight flan, etched surfaces, scratch on cheek, weight 5.920 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 135o, Larissa mint, c. 356 - 342 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, pendant earring, and simple necklace; reverse horse crouching right, left foreleg bent and raised, preparing to roll onto the ground, ΛAPIΣ/AIΩN in two lines starting above, ending in exergue; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "Thz. G/ni ex Thess., Apr. 94, SFr. 100.-"; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 365 - 356 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late fifth century B.C., it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the local fountain nymph Larissa, for whom the town was named, probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses.
SH73414. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 316, BCD Thessaly I 1158, SNG Cop 121, HGC 4 454, VF, etched surfaces, reverse double struck, weight 5.618 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Larissa mint, 365 - 356 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, pendant earring and wire necklace; reverse horse crouching right, left foreleg raised, preparing to lie down, ΛAPIΣ/AIΩN in two lines, the first above, the second line in exergue; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "V. ex Thessaly, Jan. 94, SFr. 175.-"; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00




  



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Facing Heads