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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ ItalyView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Greek Coins of Italy (Magna Graecia)

Taras, Calabria, Italy, c. 280 - 272 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, Phalanthos, 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.
GS85114. Silver nomos, Vlasto 739 ff., HN Italy 1006, SNG ANS 1106 ff., SNG BnF 1904 ff., SNG München 669 ff., SNG Lloyd 206, Dewing 211, EF, lovely old cabinet toning with hints of iridescence, well centered, beautiful depiction of Phalanthos, some obverse die wear, weight 6.537 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 45o, Taras (Taranto, Italy) mint, magistrates Zo…, Neyme…, & Poly…, c. 280-272 B.C.; obverse nude youth on horseback right crowning horse with wreath; magistrates' names ZΩ above and NEY/MH in two lines below; reverse Taras (or Phalanthos) astride dolphin left, nude, legs crossed, helmet in extended right hand, stars flanking before and behind, magistrates name ΠOΛY above right, TAPAΣ below; ex Goldberg auction 96, lot 1498; $800.00 (€712.00)
 


Roman Republic, Large Domed Ingot, Aes Formatum, 4th Century B.C.

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Called aes formatum by Haeberlin, this very rare bronze currency was a precursor to the issues of aes grave but later than aes rude. Presumably, molten bronze-iron alloy was poured into a shallow hole in the dirt. This left a disc-shaped metal mound with a flat reverse. Broken examples are much more common than complete ones like this.
AR11900. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 2.7; 1.64 kg (3 lbs, 10 oz), maximum diameter 14.6 cm, Italian mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse convex obverse; reverse flat reverse; the denarius is in the photograph to indicate the size, denarius not included; very rare; $800.00 (€712.00)
 


Osco-Latin, Central Italy, Late 4th - Early 3rd Century B.C.

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Large and attractive example.
AS85409. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell; 115.566g, 56.5mm, Choice VF, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $600.00 (€534.00)
 


Italy, Bronze Axe Head, Aes Formatum, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C.

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Bronze axe heads were used for exchange across Europe even before 1000 B.C. This complete bronze axe head dates much later, c. 5 - 4th Century B.C. It was probably never used to cut wood, but was cast to serve as currency.
AR11909. Bronze Aes Formatum, Aes formatum bronze axe, 320.3g, 14.6cm, Choice, $518.00 (€461.02) ON RESERVE


Tutere (Tudor), Umbria, Italy, 280 - 240 B.C.

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Todi was founded by the ancient Italic people of the Umbri, in the 8th - 7th century BC, with the name of Tutere. The name means "border," it being the city located on the frontier with the Etruscan dominions. It was conquered by the Romans in 217 BC. According to Silius Italicus, it had a double line of walls that stopped Hannibal himself after his victory at the Trasimeno. Christianity spread to Todi very early, through the efforts of St. Terentianus. Bishop St. Fortunatus became the patron saint of the city for his heroic defense of it during the Gothic siege. In Lombard times, Todi was part of the Duchy of Spoleto.
SH73969. Bronze hemiobol, HN Italy 37, Campania CNAI 2, SNG Cop 75, SNG ANS 105; BMC Italy p. 39, 1, F, well centered, pitted, flan crack, weight 3.364 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Tuder (Todi, Italy) mint, 280 - 240 B.C.; obverse bearded head of the satyr Silenus (Seilenos) right, wearing ivy wreath; reverse Umbrian: TVTEDE (downward on left, TVT top outward, EDE top inward), eagle standing left, wings spread; rare; $440.00 (€391.60)
 


Roman Republic, Fragment of a Large Domed Ingot, Aes Formatum, 4th Century B.C.

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Called aes formatum by Haeberlin, this very rare bronze currency was a precursor to the issues of aes grave but later than aes rude. Presumably, molten bronze-iron alloy was poured into a shallow hole in the dirt. This left a disc-shaped metal mound with a flat reverse. Broken examples like this one are much more common than complete ones.
AR12017. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 2.7, fragment, broken from a large domed ingot, weight 45.4 g, maximum diameter 99.7 mm, Italian mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse convex obverse; reverse flat reverse; very rare; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


Italy, Bronze Axe Head, Aes Formatum, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C.

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Bronze axe heads were used for exchange across Europe even before 1000 B.C. This complete bronze axe head dates much later, c. 5 - 4th Century B.C. It was never used to cut wood, but was cast to serve as currency.
AS11911. Bronze Aes Formatum, Aes formatum bronze axe, 160.8g, 8.6cm, rough green patina, $280.00 (€249.20)
 


Herakleia, Lucania, Italy, 3rd Century B.C.

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The sea god Triton, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, lived with his parents in a golden palace on the bottom of the sea. Also called Tritons were a group of fish-tailed sea gods or daimones, the Satyrs of the sea. Some, called Ikhthyokentauroi (Sea-Centaurs), had the upper bodies of men and the lower bodies of Hippokampoi (fish-tailed horses).

Glaucus began his life as a mortal fisherman from Anthedon, Boeotia. He discovered a magical herb which could bring fish back to life, and decided to try eating it. The herb made him immortal, but he grew fins and a fish tail, forcing him to dwell forever in the sea. Glaucus was initially upset by this side-effect, but Oceanus and Tethys received him well and he was quickly accepted among the deities of the sea, learning from them the art of prophecy.
GB83465. Bronze AE 13, cf. Van Keuren 144 ff.; SNG ANS 116 ff.; BMC Italy p. 234, 66; SNG Cop 1141; SNG Morcom 265; HN Italy 1437, VF, well centered, nice style, green patina, weight 2.151 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, die axis 180o, Heraklea (in Matera Province, Italy) mint, c. 276 - 250 B.C.; obverse bust of Athena right, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse marine deity (Triton or Glaukos?) right, spear in right hand, shield in left hand, HPAKΛEIΩN below; very rare; $270.00 (€240.30)
 


Vibo Valentia (Hipponion), Bruttium, Italy, c. 192 - 89 B.C.

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Vibo Valentia was originally the Greek colony of Hipponion. It was founded, probably around the late 7th century B.C., by inhabitants of Locri, a city south of Vibo Valentia on the Ionian Sea. In 388 B.C., the city was taken by Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, who deported the entire population. The population came back in 378 B.C., with the help of the Carthaginians. In the following years Hipponion came under the dominion of the Bruttii. The town fell to Rome and became a Roman colony in 194 B.C. with the name of Vibo Valentia. After a phase of prosperity during the late Republic and early Empire, the town was almost completely abandoned after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
GI76947. Bronze sextans, SNG ANS 494; SNG Cop 1856; SNG Munchen 1395; SNG Tub 510; BMC Italy p. 363, 31; HN Italy 2266; SNG Morcom -, VF, nice green patina, reverse slightly off-center, bumps and marks, areas of light corrosion, weight 1.999 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 135o, Vibo Valentia mint, c. 192 - 89 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, two pellets (mark of value) behind; reverse VALENTIA, lyre, two pellets (mark of value) right; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 300 - 250 B.C.

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Metapontum or Metapontion was an important city of Magna Graecia, on a plain of extraordinary fertility on the Gulf of Tarentum, between the river Bradanus and the Casuentus (modern Basento). It was distant about 20 km from Heraclea and 40 from Tarentum. The ruins of Metapontum are located in the frazione of Metaponto, in the comune of Bernalda, in the Province of Matera, Basilicata region, Italy.
SH70576. Bronze AE 14, Johnston Bronze 62, SNG ANS 574, SNG Cop 1261, SNG Fitzwilliam 534, SNG Forbat 55, SNG Lloyd 420, SNG Evelpidis 232, HN Italy 1698, BMC Italy -, gVF, nice style, well centered, weight 3.426 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 270o, Metapontion mint, c. 300 - 250 B.C.; obverse head of Demeter right, hair rolled and wreathed with barley, wearing pendant earring; reverse META (upwards on left), head of barley with leaf right, fly (bee?) on right flying right above leaf; $240.00 (€213.60)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Jameson, R. Collection R. Jameson. Monnaies grecques antiques. (Paris, 1913-1932).
Johnston, A. "The Bronze Coinage of Metapontum" in Kraay-Mørkholm Essays, pp. 121-136.
Johnston, A. The Coinage of Metapontum, Part 3. ANSNNM 164. (1990).
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Noe, S. The Thurian Distaters. ANSNNM 71. (New York, 1935).
Ravel, O., Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M.P. Vlasto. (London, 1947).
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Sambon, A. Les monnaies antiques de l'Italie. (Paris, 1903).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 1: Italy - Sicily. (New Jersey, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Münzsammlung Universität Tübingen, Part 1: Hispania-Sikelia. (Berlin, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale, Vol. 6, Part 1: Italy (Etruria-Calabria). (Paris, 2003).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain II, Lloyd Collection. (London. 1933-1937).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain V, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. (London. 1951 - 2008).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain IV, Fitzwilliam Museum, Leake and General Collections, Part 1: Spain (Emporiae, Rhoda)-Italy. (London, 1940).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain X, John Morcom Collection. (Oxford, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 1: Etruria - Calabria. (New York, 1969).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 2: Lucania. (New York, 1972).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 3: Bruttium - Sicily 1 (Abacaenum-Eryx). (New York, 1975).
Taliercio Mensitieri, M. "Simboli, lettere, sigle sul bronzo di Neapolis" in Studi Breglia.
van Keuren, F. The Coinage of Heraclea Lucaniae. (Rome, 1994).
Williams, R. Silver Coinage of Velia. (London, 1992).

Catalog current as of Monday, June 26, 2017.
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Italy (Magna Graecia)