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

Facing Heads on Ancient Coins

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.
GI76363. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 193.3; Calciati III p. 55, 19; SNG ANS 1224; SNG Cop 167; HGC 2 546, EF, well centered, nice green patina, a few light marks, nose a little flat, weight 3.341 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 135o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), radiating locks, no hair band, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right, head facing, holds lizard with head downward in claw, three pellets (value mark) in exergue; $700.00 SALE PRICE $630.00


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 TŁbingen -; 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; $630.00 SALE PRICE $567.00


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

Click for a larger photo
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; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00


Byzantine Empire, Constans II and Constantine IV, 13 April 654 - 15 July 668 A.D.

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Grierson notes, in the Dumbarton Oaks catalog, "the inscriptions [on this type] are very variable, since it was difficult to get so much on the coin."
SH70048. Gold solidus, DOC II part 2, 25i; Wroth BMC 50; Tolstoi 251; Morrisson BnF 50; Sommer 12.18; Hahn MIB 26; SBCV 959; Ratto -, aEF, light graffiti (Π?)on reverse, weight 4.402 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, 9th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 654 - 659 A.D.; obverse d N CONSTANTINVS C CONSTAN, facing busts of Constans & Constantine IV (beardless) each wearing crown and chlamys, cross between their heads; reverse VICTORIA AVGY Θ (the victory of the Emperor, 9th officina), cross potent on three steps, CONOB in exergue; $420.00 SALE PRICE $378.00


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; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00


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, Rhodes (or Lampsakos?) 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(?); $320.00 SALE PRICE $288.00


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 365 - 356 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.
GS73417. Silver drachm, BMC Thessaly p. 30, 61 var. (horse right); BCD Thessaly II 288 var. (exergue inverted); HGC 4 452 var. (S, same); BCD Thessaly I -, aVF, scratches, light etching, encrustations, weight 5.862 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Larissa mint, c. 365 - 356 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, pendant earring, and wire necklace; reverse ΛAPIΣ/AIΩN, horse crouching left preparing to roll over, plant below; ex BCD Collection; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00


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 MŁnchen 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; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00


Selinous, Sicily, c. 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinous was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI79939. Bronze cast tetras, Calciati I p. 235, 4; SNG Lloyd 1272; HGC 2 1233 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG MŁnchen -; SNG Morcom -; SNG TŁbingen -, F, green patina, weight 11.019 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), anepigraphic; reverse wild celery (selinon) leaf, three pellets (mark of value) around, anepigraphic; rare; $280.00 SALE PRICE $252.00


Parion, Mysia, 400 - 300 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.
GS84183. Silver hemidrachm, SNGvA 1319; SNG BnF 1357; SNG Delepierre 2530; BMC Mysia p. 95, 14 - 16; SNG Cop 257 ff. var. (various control symbols), EF, mint luster, weight 2.427 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 0o, Parion mint, 400 - 300 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, looking right, ΠA/PI in two lines above and below bull, no control symbol; reverse Gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), surrounded by snakes; ex FORVM (2009), ex Numismatik Lanz; $280.00 SALE PRICE $252.00




  



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Facing Heads