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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Anatolia| ▸ |Lesbos||View Options:  |  |  |   

Lesbos

Lesbos is the third largest Greek island, located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. Abundant pottery finds and the worship of Cybele suggest cultural continuity of the population from Neolithic times. Greek emigrants, mainly from Thessaly, arrived probably beginning in the Late Bronze Age. When Cyrus defeated Croesus in 546 B.C. the island became subject to Persia, until the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. The island was governed by an oligarchy in archaic times, followed by quasi-democracy in classical times. For a short period it was a member of the Athenian confederacy, its apostasy from which is described in a stirring chapter of Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War. In Hellenistic times, the island belonged to various successor kingdoms until 79 B.C., when it passed into Roman hands. The most powerful cities were Mytilene and Methymna. In addition to the local coins bearing the names of the various Lesbian cities, there were two important coinages, one in billon and another in electrum, both of which doubtless had a general circulation throughout the island. The word lesbian is derived from the name of the island, owing to the poems of the 6th-century B.C. poet Sappho, who was born on Lesbos and who wrote with powerful emotional content directed toward other women.


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH86292. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, Boston MFA 1679; BMC Lesbos p. 157, 20; HGC 6 938 (S), Choice EF, weight 2.547 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH21934. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 90 (unlisted dies), gVF, weight 2.569 g, maximum diameter 9.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 356 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse head of Satyr facing within linear square; ex Freeman and Sear; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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SH85689. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 81; SNG Cop 322; Boston MFA 1717; BMC Troas p. 165, 82 & pl. 33, 25; HGC 6 1007; SNGvA -, EF, superb style, excellent strike, some die wear, weight 2.565 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right wearing ivy wreath; reverse head of youthful male (Pan?) right, wearing tainia, within linear square in incuse square; ex London Coin Galleries; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH86212. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13 (b/ζ), SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, BMC Lesbos p. 157, 20; HGC 6 938 (S), gVF, well centered, edge cracks, weight 2.579 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 90o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head right; scarce; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH87788. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 12; BMC Lesbos p. 158, 23, pl. xxi, 24; Weber III 5605; SNG Fitzwilliam 4334; SNGvA 1687 & 7721; SNG Aberdeen 258; HGC 6 937 (R1), Choice gVF, well centered and struck, unusually clear details, a few light marks, flow lines, weight 2.574 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 270o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left, rectangular incuse punch behind truncation; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 417; rare; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH73442. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 99; SNG Cop 321; SNGvA 1729; HGC 6 1025; Boston MFA 1735; Weber 5631, gVF, fine style, minor die wear, weight 2.564 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Kabeiros right, wearing wreath and pileus, two stars flanking cap; reverse head of Persephone right in linear square; ex Triton XVII (6 - 7 Jan 2015), lot 599; ex CNG auction 72 (14 Jun 2006), lot 714; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 454 - 427 B.C.

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Mytilene revolted against Athens in 428 BC but was overcome by an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children into slavery but changed its mind the next day. A fast trireme sailed the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought the decision to cancel the massacre.
SH33290. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 41, SNGvA 1694, SNG Cop -, VF, weight 2.5111 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 60o, Mytilene mint, obverse boar forepart right; reverse lion head right in linear square within incuse square; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 450 - 330 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH08864. Electrum hekte, BMC Troas p. 165, 90; SNG Cop -, gem aUNC, two small marks on obverse cheek (visible in picture) probably as struck defects, weight 2.54 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, die axis 180o, Mytilene mint, c. 450 - 330 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse female head right, hair tied in a bunch behind, drapery on neck, framed by linear square; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH21935. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 100, gVF, weight 2.550 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 332 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse head of Artemis right, hair in sphendone, snake lower left, all within linear frame and incuse square; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH81272. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, EF, weight 2.538 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, die axis 180o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left; obverse "die rust"; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
Bloesch, H. Griechische Münzen In Winterthur, Vol. 2. (Winterthur, 1987).
Bodenstedt, F. Die Elektronmünzen von Phokaia und Mytilene. (Tübingen, 1981).
Brett, A. Catalogue of Greek Coins. Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (Boston, 1955).
Burnett, A. & M. Amandry. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Forrer, L. Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Greek Coins formed by Sir Hermann Weber, Volume III, Part 1: Asia. (London, 1926).
Franke, P. 'Zur Münzprägung von Methymna" in H. Buchholz, Methymna. (Mainz, 1975).
Hoover, O. D. Handbook of Coins of the Islands: Adriatic, Ionian, Thracian, Aegean, and Carpathian Seas (Excluding Crete and Cyprus), Sixth to First Centuries BC. (Lancaster/London, 2010).
Klein, D. Sammlung von griechischen Kleinsilbermünzen und Bronzen. Nomismata 3. (Milano, 1999).
Kraay, C. M. Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. (London, 1976).
Lazzarini, L. "A Contribution to the Study of the Archaic Billon Coinage of Lesbos" in Obolos 9.
Mildenberg, L. & S. Hurter, eds. The Dewing Collection of Greek Coins. ACNAC 6. (New York, 1985).
Price, M. The Coinage of in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. (London, 1991).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Schönert-Geiss, E. Die Münzprägung von Bisanthe, Dikaia, Selymbria. (Berlin, 1977).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 4: Bosporus - Lesbos. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 19: Troas - Lesbos. (Berlin, 1991).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia. (Berlin, 1957).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain IV, Fitzwilliam Museum, Leake and General Collections, Part 6: Asia Minor: Pontus - Phrygia. (London, 1965).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection, Part 5: Lesbos - Cyrenaica. (London, 1949).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Sweden II, The Collection of the Royal Coin Cabinet, National Museum of Monetary History, Part| 3: Attica-Lesbos. (Stockholm, 1991).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, United States, Burton Y. Berry Collection, Part 2: Megaris to Egypt. (New York, 1962).
Waggoner, N. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen. ANS ACNAC 5. (New York, 1983).
Wroth, W. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Troas, Aeolis and Lesbos. (London, 1894).

Catalog current as of Sunday, December 15, 2019.
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Lesbos