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Ancient Greek Coins from Illyria to Crete

Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus I Monophthalmus or Antigonus II Gonatus, 306 - 270 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references and not yet fully attributed, this is only the second specimen of this extremely rare and important drachm known to Forum. Both specimens were struck with the same reverse die. Gorny & Mosch wrote of their specimen: "Troxell recorded a very rare issue of Alexandrine tetradrachms in the name of Gonatas (The Peloponnesian Alexanders, ANSMN 17, 1971, 75-6, note 68), which through hoard evidence was conclusively proven to be struck at Pella circa 272 (see R. W. Mathisen, Antigonus Gonatas and the Silver Coinages of Macedon circa 280-270 BC, ANSMN 26, 1981, pp. 79-123, esp. p. 104). However, this unique drachm has no controls that would explicitly tie it to the Pella mint tetradrachms, and even more perplexing is the style of the engraving, which is clearly dissimilar to the tetradrachms as well. One might suppose that it is in fact not a coin of Gonatas at all, but rather a hitherto unknown drachm of his grandfather, Antigonos I Monophthalmos. However, this also does not sit well, again for reasons of style, which is inconsistent with the period of Monophthalmos' reign. For the time being, therefore, this coin must remain a numismatic enigma until further evidence can shed additional light on it."

There are two auction records for the Gorny & Mosch specimen: Roma Numismatics auction 7 (22 Mar 2014), lot 454, sold for £ 4,800 plus fees; and Gorny & Mosch auction 203 (5 Mar 2012), lot 150, sold for ? 3,200 plus fees. Our coin sold at Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, (4 May 2014), lot 152, apparently slipping through unnoticed by all but our astute consignor for ? 575 plus fees.
SH71048. Silver drachm, unpublished in standard refs; cf. Roma Numismatics auction 7, lot 454 (same rev die) = Gorny & Mosch auction 203, lot 150, VF, reverse struck a bit flat, weight 3.845 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Greece or Macedonia mint, 306 - 270 B.C.; obverse Herakles' head right, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIΓONOY, Zeus Aetophoros enthroned left, throne with high back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, lot 152; extremely rare, only two know specimens; $2500.00 (€2175.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, New Style Tetradrachm, c. 86 - 84 B.C., Issued by Sulla

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After 1 March 86 B.C., Sulla was the master of Athens. He recovered from the Pontic king Mithradates, who had taken it by force. This issue was struck for Sulla, either at Athens or outside Athens during the siege, to pay his legions and expenses during the war against Mithradates. The silver was collected from Greeks who supported the Romans against Mithradates and requisitioned from the sacred temple treasuries at Epidaurus, Olympia and Delphi. The ancients admired these Roman-Athenian coins and called them "flats of Lucullan." The MARKOY monogram may refer to Marcus the brother of the Roman general and politician Lucullus.
SH70948. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 1293; Svoronos Athens pl. 78, 11; Dewing 1653; Boehringer AMUGS V, pp. 28-31 and pl. 9, 10; Kraay-Hirmer pl. 120, 366, gVF, attractive style, well struck, nicely toned, centered on a crowded slightly irregular shape flan, weight 16.581 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 86 - 84 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl standing right on amphora on its side right, head facing, MARKOY monogram left, TAMIOY monogram right, A on amphora, all within olive wreath; ex John Jencek; rare; $2500.00 (€2175.00)


Lyttus, Crete, c. 450 - 320 B.C.

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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; $680.00 (€591.60)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 449 - 413 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 ff., Kroll 8, SGCV I 2526, F, centered, obverse rough, test cuts, weight 16.302 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 449 - 413 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; $600.00 (€522.00)


Claudius and Messalina, 24 January 41 - 48 A.D., Knossos, Crete

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Messalina was Claudius' 3rd wife and mother of Britannicus and Claudia Octavia. They were married when she was 14. In 48 A.D., while Claudius was away in Ostia, even though she was married to the emperor, Messalina married her lover, Gaius Silius. Silius was executed and Messalina driven to suicide.
SH67600. Bronze AE 20, RPC I 1001 (rev legend ending IIVIR) or 1002, Svoronos Crete 214 corr (IIVIR) or 212, SNG Cop -, BMC Crete -, aVF, edge chipped, weight 4.045 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Crete, Knossos mint, 41 A.D.; obverse TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS, bare head of Claudius left; reverse VALERIA MESSALINA [CAPITONE CYTHERONTE IIVIR] or [CYTHERO CAPITONE] (end of legend off flan), draped bust of Messalina right; extremely rare; $560.00 (€487.20)


Thebes, Boiotia, Greece, 405 - 395 B.C.

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The largest city in Boeotia, leader of the Boeotian confederacy, and rival of Athens, Thebes sided with Persia during Xerxes' invasion in 480 B.C. Thebes ended Sparta's power of at the Battle of Leuctra in 371. The Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell to Philip II at Chaeronea in 338. After a revolt in 335, Alexander the Great destroyed the city, except, according to tradition, the house of the poet Pindar.
GS74435. Silver tetartemorion, BCD Boiotia 466; BMC Central p. 77, 87; SNG Cop 294; Bérend Fractions 35; Head Boeotia 37, Choice VF, toned, weight 0.163 g, maximum diameter 6.4 mm, Thebes mint, 405 - 395 B.C.; obverse Boiotian shield; reverse bunch of grapes on stem, Θ−E flanking above; ex BCD Collection; $450.00 (€391.50)


Leukas, Akarnania, Greece, c. 350 - 320 B.C.

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There should be Λ behind the goddesses head but it is missing on this coin. Perhaps it was, in error, not engraved on the die, or perhaps it was unstruck because the letter on the die was filled with dirt. Although we have seen coins of this type struck from nearly a dozen different reverse dies, we have not found a die match to help determine why the Λ is missing.
SH63533. Silver stater, Pegasi II 413, 84 (same obverse die); BMC Corinth p. 129, 51 ff.; BCD Akarnania 221 var (types right); SNG Cop -, VF, toned, weight 8.163 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 180o, Leukas mint, c. 350 - 320 B.C.; obverse Pegasus flying left, Λ below; reverse head of Athena (or Aphrodite) left in Corinthian helmet over leather cap, Λ (unstruck) and kerykeion behind; $435.00 (€378.45)


Phaistos, Crete, c. 3rd Century B.C.

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In Greek mythology, Talos (or Talon) was a giant winged man of bronze who protected Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders. He circled the island's shores three times daily. The author of Bibliotheke thought Talos’ bronze nature might indicate he was a survivor from Hesiod's mythical Age of Bronze. The satirist Lucian took this absurd notion that men of Hesiod's Age of Bronze were actually made of bronze and, for humorous effect, extended it to men of the Age of Gold.
GB73363. Bronze AE 17, Svoronos Crète 74; SNG Cop 520; BMC Crete p. 64, 27-28, F, struck with worn dies, weight 3.702 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 270o, Phaistos mint, c. 3rd century B.C.; obverse Talos, nude, advancing right, hurling stone in his right hand, holding another in his left; reverse hound on the scent to right, ΦAIC/TIΩN in two lines, starting above, ending in exergue; rare; $360.00 (€313.20)


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, 400 - 380 B.C.

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During religious games, the young men of Thessaly participated in bull jumping and bull wrestling. In bull wrestling, participants would jump from a horse, naked save a chlamys and cap, to bring a bull down to the ground. The obverse shows a wrestler bringing down a bull and the reverse shows the horse running free after the leap was made. The game may have originated in Asia Minor and then travelled to Crete, where it is known the people of Thessaly learned the sport.
SH71321. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 372.10 (same dies), SNG Delepierre 1108 (same reverse die); SNG Cop 108 ff. var (ethnic arrangement); Herrmann pl. III, 18 var (same), VF, scratches and marks, weight 5.521 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 0o, Larissa mint, 400 - 380 B.C.; obverse Thessalos left restraining bull leaping left using band around bull's forehead held in both hands, he is naked but for chlamys over shoulders, petasos with cord around his neck flying above; reverse bridled horse galloping right, rein trailing, no ground line, ΛAP above, I horizontal below horse's head, IAΣ below, all within incuse square; rare ethnic arrangement; $350.00 (€304.50)


Lokri Opuntii, Lokris, Greece, 340 - 333 B.C.

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Locrian Ajax (the Lesser) was a Greek mythological hero, son of Oileus, the king of Locris. He was the leader of the Lokrian contingent during the Trojan War. He was called the "lesser" or "Locrian" Ajax, to distinguish him from Ajax the Great, son of Telamon. He is a significant figure in Homer's Iliad and is also mentioned in the Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid.
GS73966. Silver triobol, BCD Lokris 99; SNG Cop 50; SNG Lockett 1700; de Luynes 1958; Pozzi 1339; BMC Central -, Choice VF, weight 2.762 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 0o, Lokri Opuntii mint, 340 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Demeter right, wreathed in grain, wearing drop pendant earring and pearl necklace; reverse OΠONTIΩN, Ajax son of Oileus, advancing right in fighting attitude, nude but for crested Corinthian helmet, short sword in right, shield in left ornamented inside with coiled snake (control symbol); kantharos (control symbol) below; $330.00 (€287.10)










REFERENCES

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Hoover, O.D. Handbook of Coins of the Islands: Adriatic, Ionian, Thracian, Aegean, and Carpathian Seas (Excluding Crete and Cyprus), 6th to 1st Centuries BC. (Lancaster, 2010).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 12: Thessalien-Illyrien-Epirus-Korkyra. (Berlin, 2007).
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Catalog current as of Tuesday, August 04, 2015.
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Ancient Coins of Greece