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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ DolphinView Options:  |  |  |   

Dolphins on Ancient Coins

Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.
SH85694. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XXII, 672 (V338/R459); SNG ANS 222 (same dies); BMC Sicily, p. 162, 123 (same); Jameson 778 (same); Pozzi 586 (same); HGC 2 1320, VF, fine classical style, obverse die wear, bumps and scratches, somewhat ragged tight flan, weight 16.769 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by male charioteer holding kentron and reins, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, head of Arethusa right, earring, necklace, hair bound with taenia and wound four times around; four dolphins swimming around; $900.00 (Ä765.00)


Octavian and Divus Julius Caesar, Second Triumvirate, 36 B.C., Lugdunum, Gaul

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Lyon was originally founded as the Roman city Colonia Copia Felix Munatia, a name invoking prosperity and the blessing of the gods. The city became increasingly referred to as Lugdunum by the end of the 1st century A.D. The etymology of Lugdunum is a latinization of the Gaulish place name Lugodunon. While dunon means hill fort, the source of Lug is uncertain. The most commonly offered meaning is the Celtic god named Lug. During the Middle Ages, Lugdunum was transformed to Lyon by natural sound change.
RR70870. Bronze dupondius, RPC I 515, Giard Lyon 7, SNG Cop 689, F, weight 16.797 g, maximum diameter 29.9 mm, die axis 0o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 36 B.C.; obverse IMP CAESAR DIVI F DIVI IVLI, two heads back to back: laureate head of Divus Julius Caesar to left and bare head of Octavian to right; between them palm branch with its tip bent to right over Octavian's head; reverse Prow of galley to right, ornamented with an eye and dolphin; star superimposed on globe and meta above deck, COPIA below; rare; $490.00 SALE PRICE $441.00


Messana, Sicily, c. 324 - 318 B.C.

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Founded in the 8th century B.C., until the 5th century Messina was called Zancle, meaning "scythe" because of the shape of its harbor. Carthage sacked the city in 397 B.C. and then Dionysius I of Syracuse conquered it. In 288 B.C. the Mamertine mercenaries seized the city by treachery, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives. The city became a base from which they ravaged the countryside, leading to conflict with Syracuse. Initially Carthage assisted the Mamertines. When Syracuse attacked a second time, the Mamertines asked Rome for help. Rome was initially reluctant, but allied with the Mamertines to limit Carthaginian power.In 264 B.C., Roman troops were deployed to Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian Peninsula. At the end of the First Punic War, Messana was a free city allied with Rome.
GB85698. Bronze litra, Caltabiano 761 group III (D28/R51); cf. Calciati I p. 52, 15; SNG ANS 393; HGC 2 833 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG Mun -; BMC Sicily -, gVF+, superb style, attractive patina, areas of corrosion and encrustation, weight 6.303 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Messana (Messina, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 324 - 318 B.C.; obverse ΠOΣEI∆AN, laureate head of Poseidon left, torch behind, K below; reverse MEΣΣANIΩN, ornate trident head, flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; rare; $280.00 (Ä238.00)


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Deultum, Thrace

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Colonia Flavia Pacensis (or Pacifica) Deultum was founded by Vespasian. The colony assumed his family name, Flavia, and on account of Vespasian's devotion to the goddess of Peace (to whom he built a temple at Rome); it was called Pacensis (or Pacifica).
RP77123. Bronze AE 22, SNG Deultum 1746-1749 (same dies); Jurukova Deultum 454, Varbanov II 3023(?); BMC Thrace -, gVF, nice patina, nice style, reverse die wear and crack, weight 6.695 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, Deultum (Debelt, Bulgaria) mint, Feb 244 - End Sep 249 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind, centration dimple; reverse CO-L FL PAC DEV,LT (LT in exergue), prow of galley left on waves, ram's head on point of ram, octopus and dolphin swimming left beside hull above waves; Pecunem Gitbud & Naumann auction 31 (3 May 2015), lot 313; rare; $215.00 SALE PRICE $194.00


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.
GI77003. Bronze tetras, BMC Sicily p. 218, 608; Calciati II p. 395, 197 (ΛY right not listed); SNG Cop 852; SNG Munchen 1403; SNG ANS 964 ff.; HGC 2 1550 (S), gVF, nice Poseidon, reverse about 1/5 off-center, very light corrosion and encrustation, light bumps and marks, weight 5.556 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 268 - 218 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon left; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphin downward flanking on each side, IEPΩ−NOΣ horizontal across field divided by shaft, ΛY lower right; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00


Taras, Calabria, Italy, c. 380 - 355 B.C.

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Taras, the only Spartan colony, was founded in 706 B.C. The founders were Partheniae ("sons of virgins"), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta). These out-of-wedlock unions were permitted to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens could be soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars. Later, however, when they were no longer needed, their citizenship was retroactively nullified and the sons were obliged to leave Greece forever. Their leader, Phalanthus, consulted the oracle at Delphi and was told to make the harbor of Taranto their home. They named the city Taras after the son of Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. The reverse depicts Taras being saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent to him by Poseidon. This symbol of the ancient Greek city is still the symbol of modern Taranto today.
GI85329. Silver nomos, Fischer-Bossert group 40, 607 (V239/R464); Vlasto 454 (same dies); HN Italy 879; SNG Cop 820 (same); SNG ANS 938; BMC Italy p. 174, 107, F, tight flan cutting off youth's head, minor die damage (raised lump) below Θ, weight 7.689 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Taras (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 380 - 355 B.C.; obverse nude youth on horseback standing right, right hand lowered behind him on horse's side, reins in left hand, left foreleg raised, Θ below horse; reverse Taras astride a dolphin left, kantharos in extended right hand, left hand behind on dolphin, TAPAΣ below; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.
GI85704. Bronze litra, cf. Calciati p. 369, 194, BMC Sicily p. 218, 598; SNG Cop 846; SNG ANS 969; SGCV I 1223; HGC 2 1550 (S), Choice VF, light corrosion, a few small pits, weight 9.026 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 240 - 215 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Poseidon left; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphins at sides, IEPΩ-NOΣ across lower field divided by shank, AΓ(?) lower left; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Megara, Megaris, Greece, 307 - 243 B.C.

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Megara is in West Attica, the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was a trade port, its people using their ships and wealth as a way to gain leverage on armies of neighboring poleis. Megara specialized in exportation of wool and other animal products including livestock such as horses. It possessed two harbors, Pegae, to the west on the Corinthian Gulf and Nisaea, to the east on the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. Megara had 23,456 inhabitants at the 2011 census.
GB85282. Bronze AE 15, BCD Peloponnesos 9.5, SNG Cop 482, gF, weight 2.435 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Megara mint, 307 - 243 B.C.; obverse prow of galley left; reverse two dolphins swimming clockwise around MEΓ within dotted border; ex CNG, ex BCD Collection; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00


Thasos, Islands off Thrace, c. 411 - 404 B.C.

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In 411 B.C., Thasos revolted from Athens and received a Lacedaemonian governor. In 407 B.C. Spartans were expelled and the Athenians readmitted. After the Battle of Aegospotami in 405 B.C., Thasos again fell under the Lacedaemonians led by Lysander who formed a decarchy there. Athens must have recovered it, for later it was a subject of dispute with Philip II of Macedonia.
GA84665. Silver tritartemorion, Le Rider Thasiennes 12; SNG Cop 1033, BMC Thrace 60, SNG Fitzwilliam 3665, McClean 4218, SGCV I 1756, VF, well centered, surfaces lightly etched, weight 0.393 g, maximum diameter 8.1 mm, die axis 180o, Thasos mint, c. 411 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of satyr right; reverse ΘAΣI, two dolphins swimming; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Mygissos, Caria, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

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Many Greek cities had names beginning MY, and this type has been attributed to many of them. Most references attribute the type to Myus. Mygissos is most likely correct because nearby Nisyros issued coins with a very similar reverse with NI above the dolphin.
GB69183. Bronze chalkous, SNG Munchen 335 (MY...), SNG Cop 1022 (Myus), SNGvA 2114 (Myus), SNG Tub 3115 (Myus), SNG Keckman 235 (Myndos?), SNG Kayhan 847 (Myndos), VF, pitting, weight 1.910 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 270o, Mygissos mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Poseidon right; reverse dolphin right, MY above, trident right below; rare; $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00




  



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Dolphins