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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Numismatics ▸ Archaic OriginsView Options:  |  |  |   

Archaic Origins

On this page we offer some of the first coins of mankind. The simplest and earliest coin type was a natural electrum lump without design and with only a punch to indicate it was more than just a nugget.

BEHOLD portrayed in miniature, yet clear,
The changing seasons of Hellenic art;
Fair spring-time, when dim haunting visions start
Forth into life, and forms divine appear . . .


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Rough Irregular "Typeless" Type

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Some sales catalogs describe similar coins as the striated type. The roughly parallel lines on the striated type appear to be impressed into the "obverse" by lines cut into the anvil. On this coin, it appears the rough irregular "typeless" surface is simply flattened rough pre-strike features from the raw irregular nugget-like "planchet." Based on the apparent wear on the reverse punch, huge numbers of this type may have been struck. Very few have survived. This is the first example handled by Forum.
SH77378. Electrum 1/24 stater, cf. SNGvA 7768, SNG Kayhan 682, Traité I 14 -15, Weidauer -, Rosen -, VF, weight 0.647 g, maximum diameter 5.7 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened rough irregular "typeless" surface; reverse roughly square incuse pyramidal punch with striated sides, divided roughly in half by a raised irregular line, striated sides and the irregular line appear to be the result of wear; very rare; $1350.00 SALE PRICE $1215.00
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references but several known from auction listings.
SH77380. Electrum hemihekte, Lydo-Milesian standard; cf. CNG auction (9 Mar 2016), lot 156 (same dies); Elektron I 9 corr.; Weidauer -; Traité I -; SNG Kayhan -, VF, light marks, weight 1.189 g, maximum diameter 7.2 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 BC; obverse crude scarab beetle(?); reverse irregular six-lobed incuse pattern; very rare; $1080.00 SALE PRICE $972.00
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, 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.
RR79287. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 2.7, green patina with heavy earthen deposits, weight 850 g, maximum diameter 121 mm, Italian mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse convex obverse; reverse flat reverse; very rare; $1000.00 SALE PRICE $900.00
 


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

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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.
SH79829. Electrum 1/12 stater, SNG Kayhan 676; SNGvA 7763; Rosen 324; cf. Traité II p. 19, 13 and pl. 1, 11 (striated obverse); Weidauer -, VF, weight 1.141 g, maximum diameter 7.6 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Ionian mint, period of the Artemision Find, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain flattened globular surface; reverse incuse roughly square pyramidal punch; $800.00 SALE PRICE $720.00
 


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH72559. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered, high relief, reverse test cuts, weight 17.117 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; ex Forum (2007); $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 477 - 388 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empúries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.
SH79729. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 93b; Boston MFA 1921; SNGvA 7954; BMC Ionia p. 212, 63; SNG Cop -, aVF, attractive style, tight flan, light bumps and scratches, closed crack, weight 2.524 g, maximum diameter 10.0 mm, Phocaea mint, c. 477 - 388 B.C.; obverse head of a female (nymph?) left, wearing drop earring, wavy hair on forehead and before ear, sakkos covering most of hair including chignon, small seal behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $660.00 SALE PRICE $594.00
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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The referenced coins are not very similar. It might be more appropriate to describe this coin as unpublished but perhaps the pattern is purely random and it is from the same mint and issue as the Kayhan or Von Aulock coin.
SH76827. Electrum 1/24 stater, cf. SNG Kayhan 688, SNGvA 7768, (neither very similar), Weidauer -, Rosen -, Traité I -, Mitchiner ATEC -, Zhuyuetang -, VF, weight 0.710 g, maximum diameter 6.8 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse random(?) pattern of shapes and pellets; reverse a roughly square incuse punch with a central pellet surrounded by a random(?) pattern of curved lines; $640.00 SALE PRICE $576.00
 


Ionia, c. 625 - 600 B.C.

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SH77549. Electrum 1/24 stater, Elektron I 51, cf. Rosen 269 (hemihekte) and 309 (1/96th stater), Weidauer-, Traité -, SNG Kayhan -, VF, well centered, bumps and marks, earthen deposits, weight 0.537 g, maximum diameter 5.5 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 625 - 600 B.C.; obverse raised square; reverse incuse square punch; $540.00 SALE PRICE $486.00
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, c. 230 B.C.

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In 230 B.C., Rome sent envoys to the Illyrian Queen Teuta to obtain her aid in ending attacks and murders of Roman merchants by Illyrian pirates. After the Roman ambassador Lucius Coruncanius and the Issaean ambassador Cleemporus offended Queen Teuta, the were murdered at sea by her soldiers. In response, Roman forces occupied the island of Corcyra with the aim of humbling Teuta.
SH77477. Aes grave (cast) triens, Libral standard; Vecchi ICC 68; HN Italy 328; Crawford 24/5; Thurlow-Vecchi 33; Haeberlin pp. 60-61, 1-76 pl. 25, 8-11, gF, nice green patina, pitting, marks, weight 58.717 g, maximum diameter 40.2 mm, Rome mint, c. 230 B.C.; obverse horse prancing left, two pellets above and two pellets bellow (mark of value); reverse wheel of six spokes, four pellets (mark of value) between spokes; From the Andrew McCabe Collection; very rare; $540.00 SALE PRICE $486.00
 


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS73681. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, F, centered, obverse rough, test cuts, weight 16.302 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00
 


Akragas, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

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Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Akragas was founded c. 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela. It grew rapidly, becoming second only to Syracuse in importance on Sicily, but was sacked by Carthage in 406 B.C. and never fully recovered. It was renamed Agrigentum after it fell to Rome in 210 B.C.
GI76829. Cast bronze trias, Calciati I, p. 143, 1; Westermark Fifth pl. I, 1; SNG Cop 61; SNG ANS 1015; SNG Lloyd 832; HGC 2 126 (R1);, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, some light corrosion, weight 16.186 g, Akragas mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; cast near tooth-shaped flattened cone form, four pellets on flat top, sea-eagle standing left on one side, crab opposite; rare; $400.00 SALE PRICE $360.00
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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Both the obverse die and the reverse punch used to strike this coin had breaks and significant wear. Perhaps the obverse die was always abstract or geometric, or perhaps it started as something more recognizable. If the irregular raised lines and shapes are not entirely the result of die wear, the wear is so great that we still cannot determine what it once was. The number of types, dies and the die wear on many electrum types suggest that the total number of electrum coins struck in this archaic period many have been in the millions. The low survival rate indicates that in the following years most were melted, refined, and probably recycled into gold and silver coins.
SH79808. Electrum 1/24 stater, Rosen 280, SNG Kayhan 688, SNGvA 7768, Weidauer -, Zhuyuetang -, Traité -, VF, struck with worn dies (typical for the type), weight 0.537 g, maximum diameter 5.79 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse irregular raised lines and shapes; reverse rough irregular square incuse punch, irregular shapes within; very rare; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00
 


Side, Pamphylia, 430 - 400 B.C.

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Side was founded by Greeks from Cyme, Aeolis, most likely in the 7th century B.C. The settlers started using the local language and over time forgot their native Greek. Excavations have revealed inscriptions written in this language, still undeciphered, dating from as late as the 2nd century B.C. The name Side is from this indigenous Anatolian language and means pomegranate.
GS70329. Silver stater, SNG BnF 628 - 629, SNG Cop 369, Traité II 883, SNGvA -, VF, reverse a bit off center, weight 10.642 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 270o, Side mint, 430 - 400 B.C.; obverse pomegranate; reverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, within incuse square; $270.00 SALE PRICE $243.00
 


Lesbos, 500 - 440 B.C.

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Apotropaic magic is a ritual observance that is intended to turn away evil. Curiously, eyes were often used to ward off the "evil eye".
GA71546. Billon 1/48th stater, BMC Troas, p. 152, 28; SNG Cop 292; SNGvA 7716; SNG München 650; Rosen 548; HGC 6 1074 (1/36th stater, R1), VF, weight 0.207 g, maximum diameter 5.8 mm, Lesbos mint, 500 - 440 B.C.; obverse two apotropaic eyes (or two barley kernels); reverse incuse square; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 300 - 150 B.C.

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CE73560. Silver hacksilver fragment, cut, perhaps from a disk ingot; cf. Kim and Kroll 59; Van Alfen Hacksilber 53 ff., 26.964g, 32.7mm, weight 23.758 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Kebren, Troas, 5th Century B.C.

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Kebren (or Cebren, or Cebrene) was in the middle Skamander valley in the Troad region of Anatolia. Its remains have been located in the forested foothills of Mount Ida (modern Kaz Dagi), approximately 7 km to the south of the Skamander. Archaeological remains suggest that in the mid-7th and early 6th century B.C. Kebren as a mixed Greco-Anatolian community. Writing in the early 4th century B.C., Xenophon implies that the population of Kebren was still both Greek and Anatolian. In the 5th century B.C., Kebren was a member of the Delian League and is listed in the Hellespontine district paying tribute to Athens. Following the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 B.C., Kebren came under the control of Zenis, the tyrant of Dardanus, and his wife Mania who together controlled the Troad on behalf of the Persian satrap Pharnabazos. Kebren was captured by the Spartan commander Dercylidas in 399 B.C., but soon after returned to Persian control. In 360 to 359, the Greek mercenary commander Charidemus briefly captured the city before being repelled by the Persian satrap Artabazos. At some point in the 4th century B.C. Kebren produced coinage depicting a satrap's head as the obverse type, indicating the city's close relationship with its Persian overlords. Kebren ceased to exist as an independent city about 310 B.C., when Antigonus I Monophthalmus founded Antigonia Troas (after 301 B.C. renamed Alexandria Troas) and included Kebren in the synoecism.
GA76288. Silver obol, Klein 312, SNG Kayhan 1051 - 1052 (Lykia?), SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Troas -, aEF, toned, grainy etched surfaces, weight 0.570 g, maximum diameter 7.3 mm, Kebren mint, 5th Century B.C.; obverse head of ram left; reverse irregularly divided incuse square; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


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

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GA77417. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, weight 13.925 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


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

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GA77838. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, VF, weight 17.248 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


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

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GA77842. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, VF, weight 22.892 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 510 - 494 B.C.

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Although this obol with the head right is unpublished in references we know of six examples sold at auction in the past decade. Examples with the head right are approximately 0.8 grams, not the approximately 1.3 grams normal for the type with the head left.
GA71653. Silver obol, Unpublished in references; cf. Klein 454 (head left), VF, some encrustation, corrosion, weight 0.796 g, maximum diameter 10.2 mm, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) mint, c. 510 - 494 B.C.; obverse head of nymph right, wearing sakkos and earring; reverse quadripartite incuse square; very rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Himera, Sicily, c. 472-413 B.C.

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In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
GA76588. Silver obol, cf. SNG Cop 312; SNG München 355; SNG Lloyd 1027; BMC Sicily p. 81, 47; SNG ANS -; Klein -, VF, obverse off center, reverse legend weak, uneven toning, a little rough, weight 0.586 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, Himera mint, c. 472-413 B.C.; obverse bearded male (Kronos?) head right, wearing fillet (hair band); reverse HIMEPA (or similar), Corinthian helmet right, no crest, within shallow incuse; rare; $175.00 SALE PRICE $158.00
 


Eion, Macedonia, c. 500 - 437 B.C.

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Eion was only about three miles from Amphipolis and from the late 5th century onwards served merely as a seaport of its much larger neighbor. The denomination is variously described as a diobol or trihemiobol. The significance of the obverse type is not clear, but presumably makes reference to the characteristic fauna of the region at that time.
GA77599. Silver trihemiobol, SNG ANS 280 - 283, SNG Cop 180 corr., SNG Berry 29, Klein 151, BMC Macedonia p. 75, 21, aVF, well centered, light toning, edge split, porous, weight 0.661 g, maximum diameter 11.5 mm, Eion mint, c. 500 - 437 B.C.; obverse goose standing right, looking back, lizard above; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $175.00 SALE PRICE $158.00
 


Persian Empire, Judaea (Yehudah), 375 - 333 B.C.

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Minted in Judaea while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest. Click here to see a map of the Persian Empire about 500 B.C.
JD59398. Silver obol, Meshorer TJC 5, Hendin 1051, aF, weight 0.487 g, maximum diameter 8.4 mm, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse oriental style head of Athena; reverse Aramaic inscription:, owl standing left, head facing, olive spray right; rare; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
 


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

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GA77419. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, VF, edge chip, crack, weight 22.873 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00
 


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

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These small cast bronze scallop shells were used as money in central Italy.
RR77298. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, VF, weight 9.782 g, maximum diameter 29.9 mm, $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 300 - 150 B.C.

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CE73111. Silver hacksilver fragment, cut from a disk ingot; cf. Kim and Kroll 59; Van Alfen Hacksilber 53 ff., 10.472g, 28.4mm, $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Phokaia was the most northerly of the Ionian communities in Anatolia and was the mother city of many colonies in the western Mediterranean area, including Massalia (modern Marseille, France).
GA76817. Silver hemidrachm, SNG Kayhan 514; SNG Keckman 300; SNGvA 2116; BMC Ionia 82, Traité 523; SNG Cop -; SNG München -, VF, bold, centered, toned, weight 1.482 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse head of griffin left; reverse rough quadripartite incuse square; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


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

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GA77416. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, pl. 6, 2-2e; Alvarez-Burgos P28; Thurlow-Vecchi -; molded from bipod shell, weight 16.710 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00
 


Kalchedon, Bithynia, c. 340 - 320 B.C.

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The position of Chalcedon, on the eastern shore of the Bosporus, was not as favorable as that of Byzantion on the opposite side. The Persian Megabazus (Herod. iv. 144) said the founders of Chalcedon must have been blind, for Chalcedon was settled seventeen years before Byzantium; and the settlers, we must suppose, had the choice of the two places.
GS75218. Silver half siglos, SNG BM Black Sea 118; SNGvA 484; SNG Stancomb 14; BMC Pontus p. 124, 8; HGC 7 518, gVF, off center, light marks, tiny edge split, weight 2.430 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, Kalchedon mint, c. 340 - 320 B.C.; obverse KAΛX, bull standing left on ear of grain; reverse quadripartite incuse square of mill-sail pattern, stippled texture within incuse areas; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00
 


Caria, Uncertain City (probably Mylasa), c. 420 - 390 B.C.

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Among the smallest coins ever minted.
GA76794. Silver tetartemorion, SNG Kayhan 940 - 943, SNG Keckman I 926, VF, weight 0.150 g, maximum diameter 5.7 mm, die axis 165o, Carian mint, c. 420 - 390 B.C.; obverse forepart of lion right, head turned back left; reverse bird standing left within incuse square; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00
 




  



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Catalog current as of Monday, July 25, 2016.
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Archaic Origins