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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Anatolia ▸ Ionia ▸ Archaic ElectrumView Options:  |  |  | 

Archaic Electrum Coinage from Ionia (and its Neighbors)

The earliest dated coin hoard was deposited in the foundation of the Artemision, the temple of Artemis at Ephesos, as an offering during construction, c. 600 B.C. These earliest coins, which included many of the types on this page, were struck from electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. The very earliest coins (sometimes described as proto-coins) were type-less (blank) electrum globules weighed to a specific standard with simple square punch marks on one side. After lines cut into the anvil (probably to prevent the blank globule from slipping) were transferred to coin, the obverse design was discovered. Soon, more complex designs were engraved into the anvil (and later into dies) and coinage as we know it was created. Click here to read "From the Origin of Coins to Croesus."


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Striated Type

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Mankind's first coin type with an obverse and reverse! Rare and important. The earliest dated coin hoard was deposited in the foundation of the Artemision, the temple of Artemis at Ephesos, as an offering during construction, c. 600 B.C. These earliest coins, which included this type, were struck from electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver found as nuggets in the rivers and streams of Lydia and Ionia. This striated type is the first type to have an obverse design in addition to the reverse punch. Because of its simple obverse design, it is described by some authorities as the first true coin.
SH87928. Electrum hekte, 1/6 stater, Milesian standard; Weidauer 6, Traité I 12, SNGvA 1769, SNG Kayhan 680, Karwiese Artemision I.6, SNG Fitzwilliam -, Rosen -, Zhuyuetang -, VF, light marks, earthen deposits, weight 2.293 g, maximum diameter 10.2 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened striated surface; reverse two rough approximately square incuse punches; rare and important; $6000.00 (€5280.00)
 


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 550 - 450 B.C.

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Kyzikos, purportedly the first Milesian colony, was located on the southwest shore of the Propontis in ancient Mysia next to the river Aisepos. Its prosperity was due principally to its two fine harbors, which made the city a convenient stopping point for merchant ships trading between the Aegean and Black Seas. Its principal export was the tunny, of which its waters had abundant stock. The prevalence of winged beings in Kyzikene coinage is a reflection of archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. In the case of the winged animals, we should probably understand these to be attributes of or animals sacred to a particular Olympian god.
SH86217. Electrum stater, Von Fritze I (Nomisma VII) 104 & pl. 3, 23; Boston MFA 1433; SNG BnF 245; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Mysia -, VF, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 16.091 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos mint, c. 550 - 450 B.C.; obverse winged dog seated left, head turned back right, curved archaic wing, wearing collar, tunny fish below to left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; extremely rare; $5850.00 (€5148.00)
 


Western Anatolia, c. 620 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

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Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

Unpublished! The majority of the earliest electrum issues were struck on the lighter Milesian weight standard, with hectes weighing approximately 2.35 grams. This example, however is on the heavier Phocaic standard that was used at mints such as Cyzicus, Mysia and Phocaea, Ionia.
SH85577. Electrum hekte, Phokaic standard 1/6 stater; unpublished, EF, flan cracks, weight 2.721 g, maximum diameter 8.96 mm, uncertain western Anatolia mint, c. 620 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse one small incuse square punch; extremely rare; $2560.00 (€2252.80)
 


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 500 - 450 B.C.

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Cyzicus was one of the great cities of the ancient world. It was said to have been founded by Pelasgians from Thessaly, according to tradition at the coming of the Argonauts; later, allegedly in 756 B.C., it received many colonists from Miletus. Owing to its advantageous position it speedily acquired commercial importance, and the gold staters of Cyzicus were a staple currency in the ancient world till they were superseded by those of Philip of Macedon. The site of Cyzicus, located on the Erdek and Bandirma roads, is protected by Turkey's Ministry of Culture.
SL89446. Electrum hekte, SNG BnF 241; SNGvA 1180; BMC Mysia p. 32, 98; Von Fritze I 102; Rosen 482; de Luynes pl. XCII 2460; SNG Cop -, NGC XF, strike 3/5, surface 3/5 (2490378-004), weight 2.674 g, maximum diameter 11.4 mm, Kyzikos (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, c. 500 - 450 B.C.; obverse satyr left, tunny fish vertical with head down to left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; extremely rare; $1000.00 (€880.00)
 


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.
SH91877. Electrum 1/24 stater, Karwiese Artemision type I.1, SNG Kayhan 678, Weidauer -, Rosen -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, Traité I –; Lydo-Milesian standard, EF, weight 0.572 g, maximum diameter 6.6 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse incuse punch: roughly square, striations from punch wear, punch damaged on one corner; ex CNG e-auction 445, lot 229; ex Ealing Collection, ex John Cummings (Feb 1995); rare; $650.00 (€572.00)
 


Ephesos(?), Ionia, c. 610 - 575 B.C.

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This type is among the earliest of coins. The location of the mint is not certain but examples have been found at and near Ephesos.
SH89744. Electrum 1/24 stater, Rosen 284 (Asia Minor uncertain), SNG Kayhan 724 (Myletos?), Mitchiner ATEC 105 (Ephesos), Karwiese 68 ff. (same), Weidauer -, aVF, bumps and marks, weight 0.556 g, maximum diameter 5.8 mm, Ephesos(?) mint, c. 610- 575 B.C.; obverse crude lion's paw seen from above; reverse deep incuse square; very rare; $400.00 (€352.00)
 







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REFERENCES

Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
Brett, A. Catalogue of Greek Coins, Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (Boston, 1955).
Bodenstedt, F. Die Elektronmünzen von Phokaia und Mytilene. (Tübingen, 1981).
Head, B. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Ionia. (London, 1892).
Karwiese, S. Die Münzprägung von Ephesos. I. Die Anfänge: Die ältesten Prägungen und der Beginn der Münzprägung überhaupt. (Cologne/Weimar, 1995)
Karwiese, S. "The Artemisium coin hoard and the first coins of Ephesus," RBN 137 (1991), pp. 1 - 28.
Konuk, K. & C. Lorber. White Gold: Revealing the World's Earliest Coins. (Jerusalem, 2012).
Linzalone, J. Electrum And The Invention of Coinage. (New Jersey, 2011).
Meadows, A. & R. Kan. History Re-Stored: Ancient Greek Coins from the Zhuyuetang Collection. (Hong Kong, 2004).
Mitchiner, M. Ancient Trade and Early Coinage. (London, 2004).
Münzen und Medaillen Deutschland. Sammlung Elektron. Catalog of public auction 7, 20 October 2000. Stuttgart.
Robinson, W. "The Date of the Earliest Coins" in Numismatic Chronicle 16. (1956) 1-8.
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 5: Ionia, Caria and Lydia. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 20: Ionien 1: (Frühes Elektron-Priene). (Berlin, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Münzsammlung Universität Tübingen, Part 4: Mysien - Ionien. (Berlin, 1989).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia. (Berlin, 1957).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Finland, The Erkki Keckman Collection in the Skopbank, Helsinki, Part II: Asia Minor except Karia. (Helsinki, 1999).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Vickers, M. "Early Greek Coinage: A Reassessment" in NC 145 (1985) 1-4.
Waggoner, N. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen (ANS ACNAC 5). (New York, 1983).
Weidauer, L. Problemeder frühen Elektronprägung, Typos I. (Fribourg, 1975).

Catalog current as of Thursday, June 20, 2019.
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Archaic Electrum