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Home>Catalog>CollectingThemes>Numismatics>ArchaicOrigins PAGE 1/3123»»»

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 . . .


Lyttus, Crete, c. 450 - 320 B.C.
Click for a larger photo References do not describe the obverse legend, but it is also present on the Svoronos plate.
SH65976. Silver drachm, Svoronos Crete p. 231, 19 and pl.XXI, 13; BMC Crete p. 55, 7; SNG Cop 494, aVF, slightly grainy, well centered, weight 5.352 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Lyttus mint, c. 380 - 320 B.C.; obverse ΛY−TΣ (clockwise starting above, ΛY ligate), eagle flying left; reverse ΛYTTION, boar’s head right in beaded square border, all within incuse square; rare; $760.00 (€570.00)

Himera, Sicily, 430 - 420 B.C.
Click for a larger photo The style of the early coinage of Himera varied greatly. This coin has the most cartoon-like style. Calciati describes the beveled flan as a "truncated cone."
SH68313. Bronze tetras, Calciati I p. 32, 18; SNG Cop 315; SNG ANS 181; SNG Morcom 596; HGC 2 467 (R1), VF, smoothing, weight 11.965 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 135o, Himera mint, 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing gorgoneion with cartoon-like style, protruding tongue, curly hair with no part, almond eyes, and pellet nostrils; reverse three pellets, within round incuse; rare; $650.00 (€487.50)

Cilicia (Uncertain City, Kelenderis?), 4th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Cilicia extended along the Mediterranean coast east from Pamphylia, to the Amanus Mountains, which separated it from Syria.
SH34910. Silver obol, SNG Levante 253, SNG BnF -, Choice aEF, weight 0.572 g, maximum diameter 9.9 mm, die axis 0o, Kelenderis? mint, obverse head of Athena facing, wearing triple-crested helmet; reverse Pegasos right, uncertain symbol or letter above, within shallow incuse square; rare; $400.00 (€300.00)

Roman Republic, Cast Coinage, c. 280 - 265 B.C.
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RR65391. Aes grave (cast) semuncia, Sydenham 14, Thurlow-Vecchi 7, Crawford 14/7, Historia Numorum Italy 274, F, weight 14.86 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 90o, Italian mint, c. 280 - 265 B.C.; obverse acorn; reverse large Σ (mark of value); $400.00 (€300.00)

Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 3rd Century B.C.
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CE70515. Silver ingot, cut from a larger bar, 32.7mm, 26.964g (= one Roman ounce), $400.00 (€300.00)

Salamis, Cyprus, Evelthon, c. 560 - 520 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Evelthon is the first historically documented king of Salamis and the first king of Salamis to strike coins. Coins probably continued to be struck in his name after his death.
GS69897. Silver 1/12 siglos, Tziambazis 98, Bank of Cyprus 7, BMC Cyprus 9, SNG Cop 33, SGCV 3590, F, toned, weight 0.832 g, maximum diameter 9.9 mm, die axis 0o, Salamis mint, c. 530 - 500 B.C.; obverse Cyprosyllabic inscription: elu, ram head right; reverse smooth blank; rare; $380.00 (€285.00)

Akragas (Agrigentum), Sicily, c. 450 B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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.
SH65985. Cast bronze hexas, Calciati I p. 146, 7; BMC Sicily p. 24, 5; SNG Cop 63; SNG ANS -; conical tooth-like shape with round base, VF, weight 7.156 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 0o, Akragas mint, c. 450 B.C.; obverse AK, eagle standing left; reverse crab; two pellets on base; rare; $320.00 (€240.00)

Assos, Troas, c. 480 - 450 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Assos was a harbor city on the Gulf of Adramytteion, just north of the island of Lesbos. Hermias, a student of Plato, ruled Assos for a time during the 4th century B.C. He invited Plato's most famous student, Aristotle, who lived and taught in Assos for more than three years. When the Persians took the city, they executed Hermias and Aristotle fled to Lesbos. After visiting Alexandria Troas, Paul walked to Assos and visited the Christians there (Acts 20:13).

An astragalos was a gaming piece, made from the knuckle-bone of a sheep or goat, used in antiquity for divination and games in a manner similar to dice.
GA63461. Silver tetartemorion, Klein 475 (Teos), SNG Kayhan -, BMC Ionia -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, VF, broad flan, weight 0.203 g, maximum diameter 6.7 mm, Assos mint, 480 - 450 B.C.; obverse griffin leaping right; reverse astragalos within incuse square; extremely rare; $280.00 (€210.00)

Lete, Macedonia, c. 500 - 480 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Lete is Liti today, a town in the northern suburbs of Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece. The attribution of this type to Lete is less than certain.
SH68422. Silver trihemiobol, SNG ANS 971 ff., SNG Cop 190, SNG Lockett 1333, Rosen 157, VF, dark toning, weight 1.100 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 315o, Lete mint, c. 500 - 480 B.C.; obverse Satyr squatting right, flanked by a pellet upper left and another right; reverse incuse square diagonally divided; ex Stacks auction 8/2009, lot 4080; $250.00 (€187.50)

Italy, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Bronze axe heads were used for exchange across Europe even before 1000 B.C. This broken fragment of a bronze axe head dates much later, c. 5 - 4th Century B.C. It was never used to cut wood but was cast to served as currency, and was broken for change.
AR70508. Bronze Aes Formatum, Aes formatum bronze axe head fragment; maximum length 39.8mm, weight 38.814g, $250.00 (€187.50)

Italy, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Bronze axe heads were used for exchange across Europe even before 1000 B.C. This broken fragment of a bronze axe head dates much later, c. 5 - 4th Century B.C. It was never used to cut wood but was cast to served as currency, and was broken for change.
AR70510. Bronze Aes Formatum, Aes formatum axe head fragment; maximum length 37.0mm, weight 28.261g, $250.00 (€187.50)

Calchedon, Bithynia, 4th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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.
SH66267. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 352; SNG BM 105 (different monogram); SNGvA 487 var (no monogram); SGCV II 3742 var (same), gVF, obverse off center, weight 3.793 g, maximum diameter 14.6 mm, Kalchedon mint, 4th Century B.C.; obverse KAΛX, cow standing left on grain ear, kerykeion and ∆A monogram before legs; reverse quadrapartite incuse square with stippled surface; $225.00 (€168.75)

Lesbos, c. 550 - 440 B.C.
Click for a larger photo In 570 B.C., Lesbos took part in the founding of Naucrate, the Greek Colony in Egypt. This coin, depicting an African, and others with Egyptian related types, likely boast of Lesbos' role at Naucrate.
GA67792. Billon 1/12 stater, SNG Cop 296; SNGvA 7715; BMC Troas p. 153, 42 - 44; SNG München -, VF, toned, weight 0.718 g, maximum diameter 8.4 mm, die axis 0o, Lesbos, uncertain mint, c. 550 - 440 B.C.; obverse head of a Nubian right; reverse rough quadripartite incuse square punch; rare; $225.00 (€168.75)

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: "YHD" (Yehudah), owl standing left, head facing, olive spray right; rare; $200.00 (€150.00)

Therma, Macedonia, 510 - 480 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Around 315 B.C., King Cassander of Macedonia, founded Thessalonica on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma.
SH63538. Silver tetrobol, cf. AMNG III p. 117, 30; Rosen 115, SNG Cop 343, SNG ANS -, VF, weight 2.400 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, die axis 225o, Macedonia, Thermai mint, 510 - 480 B.C.; obverse Pegasos forepart right, with curved wing; reverse irregular incuse punch; ex Münhandlung ATHENA GmbH (Munich); rare; $200.00 (€150.00)

Salamis, Cyprus, Evagoras I, 411 - 374 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Evagoras claimed descent from Teucer, the son of Telamon and half-brother of Ajax. His family had long ruled Salamis. During his childhood Phoenicians took Salamis and he was exiled to Cilicia. He returned secretly in 410 with 50 followers and retook his throne. Expecting an eventual Persian attack, he cultivated the friendship of the Athenians. For a time, he also maintained friendly relations with Persia and secured the aid of Artaxerxes II for Athens against Sparta. He took part in the battle of Cnidus of 394 B.C. which he provided most of the resources for and in which the Spartan fleet was defeated thanks to his efforts, and for this service his statue was placed by the Athenians side by side with that of Conon in the Ceramicus. Relations with Persia deteriorated and from 391 they were at war. Aided by the Athens and Egypt, Evagoras extended his rule over the greater part of Cyprus, crossed over to Asia Minor, took several cities in Phoenicia (including Tyre), and persuaded the Cilicians to revolt. Under the peace of Antalcidas in 387, Athens abandoned him and recognized Persian lordship over Cyprus. The Persian generals Tiribazus and Orontes at invaded Cyprus in 385 B.C. Evagoras managed to cut off Persian resupplies and the starving troops rebelled. The war then turned in the Persian favor when Evagoras' fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Citium, and he was compelled to flee to Salamis. Here, although closely blockaded, Evagoras managed to hold his ground, and took advantage of a quarrel between the two Persian generals to conclude peace in 376. Evagoras was allowed to remain nominally king of Salamis, but in reality a vassal of Persia, to which he was to pay a yearly tribute. The chronology of the last part of his reign is uncertain. In 374 he was assassinated by a eunuch from motives of private revenge. He was succeeded by his son, Nicocles.
GS68007. Silver 1/12 siglos, Bank of Cyprus 9; BMC Cyprus p. 55, 44; cf. SNG Cop 42 (0.80, obol); Tziambazis 119 (0.27g, 1/48 siglos), VF, weight 0.355 g, maximum diameter 9.2 mm, die axis 0o, Salamis mint, 411 - 374 B.C.; obverse young male head right, curly short hair, dot circle border; reverse smooth blank (as struck); rare; $200.00 (€150.00)

Phokis, Greece, Federal Coinage, c. 478 - 460 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Phocis was mainly pastoral. Delphi, with its oracle, sanctuary dedicated to Apollo, Pythian Games, and treasuries was the main urban center.

The Phocians were unpopular with other Greeks. In 480 B.C., a Phokian force of 1,000 volunteer shepherd boys was assigned to the heights at Thermopylae. They took one look at the advancing Persians and fled leaving open the back trail, which allowed the Persians to destroy Leonidas and the Spartans. The following year the Phokians actually joined the Persian side, the losing side, in the Battle of Plataea.
GA68399. Silver obol, BCD Lokris 205 (same dies, dies not in Williams Phokians), gVF, toned, obverse off center, weight 0.925 g, maximum diameter 10.8 mm, die axis 90o, Phokis mint, c. 478 - 460 B.C.; obverse Φ−O, facing bull head; reverse Φ−O, forepart of boar right, showing both legs, right foreleg bent; $200.00 (€150.00)

Dikaia, Macedonia, 5th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Apparently unpublished in major references. The referenced Pecunem Gitbud & Naumann coin is very similar, but from different dies. The referenced VAuctions coin, presumably a later issue, is also very similar but with ∆IKAI and a dotted square border around the grapes within a shallower square incuse. Dikaia was located between the rivers Nestos and Hebros.
GA69941. Silver hemiobol, cf. Pecunem Gitbud & Naumann auction 11, lot 89; VAuctions 270, lot 112; Schönert-Geiss -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; BMC Macedonia -; Klein -; Rosen -, VF, weight 0.451 g, maximum diameter 7.3 mm, die axis 180o, Dikaia mint, 5th century B.C.; obverse head of bull right; reverse bunch of grapes on stem within incuse square; extremely rare; $200.00 (€150.00)

Three Rings, Celtic Ring Money, Black Sea Region, c. 800 - 100 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Ring money of bronze, of silver, and of gold was used by the Celts in trade from Ireland to the Danube region. The dating of Celtic ring money is uncertain. Some authorities date the use of ring money from 800 to 500 B.C., but it may have been used as late as 100 B.C. Some believe the bronze rings are actually just strap fittings, not a trade currency. Undoubtedly they were used as fittings. Others claim, however, that although the rings vary in weight; they are all multiples of a standard unit, indicating a uniform principle regulated their size - i.e., their use as coinage. Bronze rings have been found in quite large hoards, which also strongly indicates they were used as money.
CE69204. Bronze Ring Money, Topalov Apollonia I p. 88, Victoor -, (1) numerous knobs, 18.176g, 40.6mm; (2) same, 17.108g, 36.1mm; (3) 5 groups of three knobs, 17.009g, 45.2mm, $200.00 (€150.00)

Neapolis, Macedonia, c. 500 - 450 B.C.
Click for a larger photo While some examples of this hemiobol have an odd style gorgon, this example is of a style similar to Neapolis staters. Nevertheless, Klien's attribution of the type to Neapolis is less than certain.
GS68401. Silver hemiobol, Klein 154, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, Rosen -, Tzamalis -, VF, porosity, weight 0.345 g, maximum diameter 7.0 mm, die axis 270o, Macedonia, Neapolis mint, c. 500 - 450 B.C.; obverse Gorgon; reverse Kantharos within a square incuse; very rare; $185.00 (€138.75)

Thasos, Islands off Thrace, 411 - 404 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Thasos is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea, close to the coast of Thrace and the plain of the river Nestos but geographically part of Macedonia. It is the northernmost Greek island, and 12th largest by area. Thasos is also the name of the largest town of the island (also known as Limenas Thasou, "Harbor of Thasos"), situated at the northern side, opposite the mainland and about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from Keramoti.
GA68554. Silver hemiobol, Le Rider Thasiennes 13; SNG Cop 1035; SNG Lockett 1239; BMC Thrace p. 222, 63; HGC 6 341 (R1), gF, attractive style, tight flan, weight 0.251 g, maximum diameter 7.3 mm, die axis 0o, Thasos mint, 412 - 404 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left; reverse dolphin left, ΘA below, all within incuse square; $185.00 (€138.75)

Kyzikos, Mysia, 525 - 450 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Cyzicus was one of the great cities of the ancient world. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) Cyzicus was subject to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians alternately. In the naval Battle of Cyzicus in 410, an Athenian fleet completely destroyed a Spartan fleet. At the peace of Antalcidas in 387, like the other Greek cities in Asia, it was made over to Persia. Alexander the Great captured it from the Persians in 334 B.C.
GA68738. Silver trihemiobol, SNG BnF 361 - 366; SNG Cop 45 47; BMC Mysia, p. 34, 108 ff.; SGCV II 3846, EF, weight 1.152 g, maximum diameter 9.6 mm, die axis 90o, Kyzikos mint, 525 - 450 B.C.; obverse forepart of boar running left, tunny fish upwards behind; reverse roaring lion head left within incuse square; $180.00 (€135.00)

Eion, Macedonia, c. 500 - 437 B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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.
GA69955. Silver trihemiobol, SNG Cop 177 - 178; SNG ANS 287 - 290; BMC Macedonia p. 74, 11, aVF, weight 0.852 g, maximum diameter 11.6 mm, die axis 180o, Eion mint, c. 500 - 437 B.C.; obverse goose standing right, looking back, lizard above, H below behind legs; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $175.00 (€131.25)

Lampsakos, Mysia, c. 500 - 450 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Lampsacus was an ancient Greek city strategically located on the eastern side of the Hellespont in the northern Troad. An inhabitant of Lampsacus was called a Lampsacene. The name has been transmitted in the nearby modern town of Lapseki.
GA68743. Silver trihemiobol or diobol, SNG BnF 1126, SNGvA 7390, SNG Cop 184, Rosen 524, SGCV II 3879, gVF, obverse off center, weight 1.152 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 270o, Lampsakos (Lapseki, Turkey) mint, c. 500 - 450 B.C.; obverse janiform female head; reverse head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet, in incuse square; $175.00 (€131.25)

Osco-Latin, Central Italy, Late 4th - Early 3rd Century B.C.
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RR70495. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. G. Fallai, IAPN 8, plate 6, 2-2e; Thurlow-Vecchi -; scallop shell, VF, weight 24.610 g, maximum diameter 31.8 mm, uncertain Osco-Latin mint, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.; $175.00 (€131.25)

Skione, Macedonia, c. 424 - 421 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Skione, in Pallene, on the southern coast of the westernmost headland of Chalcidice, east of the modern town of Nea Skioni, was founded c. 700 B.C. by settlers from Achaea. The Scionaeans claimed their ancestors settled there after their ships were blown to the site by the storm that caught the Achaeans on their return from Troy. In early 423 B.C., encouraged by promises of support from the Spartan general Brasidas, Skione revolted against Athens. In summer 421, after a long siege, the Athenians took the city, put the adult males to death, enslaved the women and children, and gave the land to Plataea, an ally of Athens. By Roman imperial times, Skione had nearly disappeared.
GA68555. Silver hemiobol, SNG ANS 714 f. corr., SNG Ashmolean 2376, Klein 160, BMC - , SNG Cop -, Rosen -, VF, toned, etched surfaces, weight 0.427 g, maximum diameter 7.4 mm, die axis 0o, Skione mint, c. 424 - 421 B.C.; obverse male head right, wearing tainia; reverse ΣKI, Corinthian helmet right within incuse square; $160.00 (€120.00)

Apollonia Pontika, Thrace, Late 5th - Early 4th Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Apollonia Pontica was founded as Antheia by Greek colonists from Miletus in the 7th century B.C. They soon changed its name to Apollonia after building a temple for Apollo. The temple contained a colossal statue of Apollo by Calamis, which was later taken to Rome and placed in the Capitol. The anchor on the coinage is evidence of the importance of its maritime trade.
GA64065. Silver hemiobol, SNG Stancomb 32; SNG BM 149, VF, grainy, weight 0.417 g, maximum diameter 6.8 mm, die axis 90o, Apollonia Pontika mint, late 5th - early 4th century B.C.; obverse anchor with perpendicular crossbar and circular loop on end, two pellets; reverse incuse curled swastika pattern; $155.00 (€116.25)

Abdera, Thrace, 473 - 386 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Abdera was sacked by Philip II of Macedon in 350 B.C. and was absorbed in to Philip's empire. According to May, Philip closed the mint in 346 B.C. The city was later sacked and controlled by Lysimachos of Thrace, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and again the Macedonians. In 170 B.C., the Roman armies and those of Eumenes II of Pergamon besieged and sacked it.
GA65991. Silver triobol, Unpublished variety; cf. May 301 - 304 var (ram head left); SNG Cop 348 (same); BMC Thrace, p. 231, 52a (same), VF, weight 1.444 g, maximum diameter 11.2 mm, die axis 0o, obverse griffin seated left, right forepaw raised; reverse ram head right within incuse square; $150.00 (€112.50)

Kos, Carian Islands, 530 - 500 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Tzamalis and Svoronos attributed this type as Thraco-Macedonian.
GS69899. Silver hemiobol, SNG Kayhan 903; Klein 543; BMC Caria, p. 193, 5; SNGvA 6665; HGC 6, 1297 (R2); Tzamalis 5 (Thraco-Macedonian); Svoronos HPM pl. XV, 16 (same), VF, weight 0.499 g, maximum diameter 7.8 mm, die axis 180o, Kos mint, 530 - 500 B.C.; obverse crab; reverse rough irregular incuse; very rare; $150.00 (€112.50)

Leontini, Sicily, c. 476 - 455 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Leontini was founded by colonists from Naxos in 729 B.C. Six miles inland, it is the only Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, Originally held by the Sicels, the site was seized by the Greeks to gain control of the fertile plain to the north.
GS65784. Silver hemilitra, SNG München 548; Boehringer Leontini B; cf. HGC 2 688 (R2, obol); SNG ANS 216 (obol, finer style); BMC Sicily p. 88, 22 (same); SNG Cop 342 (same), aVF, toned, crude style (perhaps a barbaric imitative), weight 0.280 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 0o, Leontini (or unofficial?) mint, c. 476 - 466 B.C.; obverse crude facing lion scalp, dot border; reverse LE/ON (retrograde), barley grain, within shallow round incuse; from the old stock of a retiring Ohio dealer acquired by Forum in 2012; very rare; $150.00 (€112.50)



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Catalog current as of Monday, April 21, 2014.
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Archaic Origins