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Home>Catalog>CollectingThemes>Numismatics>ArchaicOrigins PAGE 1/9123

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 (Uncertain City), c. 600 - 550 B.C.
Click for a larger photo
SH90673. Electrum hemihekte, Unpublished in references but examples (all from the same dies) known from trade; Naville VII, 1924 (Bement Collection), lot 1435, gVF, weight 1.282 g, maximum diameter 8.5 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse siren standing left, with the body of a bird and human head wearing cap with a long curl; reverse irregular square incuse punch; ex Roma Numismatics e-Sale 3 (30 Nov 2013), lot 201; very rare; $900.00 (783.00)

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, boars head right in beaded square border, all within incuse square; rare; $760.00 (661.20)

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 22.1 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 (565.50)

Ionia (Uncertain City), c. 600 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Third example of this early electrum fraction known to Forum.
SH72612. Electrum 1/24th stater, unpublished in standard references, Ponterio & Associates, sale 152 (NYINC, 8 Jan 2010), lot 5874 (same dies); FORVM SH21301 (same), VF, weight 0.532 g, maximum diameter 6.4 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 B.C.; obverse head of stag left; reverse incuse punch with curved lines; $550.00 (478.50)

Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C.
Click for a larger photo 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.
SH73042. Electrum 1/24 stater, SNG Kayhan 678, Weidauer -, Rosen -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, VF, weight 0.583 g, maximum diameter 5.5 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse incuse punch (very worn with die breaks); rare; $350.00 (304.50)

Roman Republic, Cast Coinage, c. 280 - 265 B.C.
Click for a larger photo
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); $330.00 (287.10)

Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 300 - 150 B.C.
Click for a larger photo  
CE70515. Silver hacksilver fragment, cut, perhaps from a disk ingot; cf. Kim and Kroll 59; Van Alfen Hacksilber 53 ff., 26.964g, 32.7mm, $320.00 (278.40) ON RESERVE

Miletos, Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Before the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century B.C., Miletus was the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities and had a maritime empire with many colonies. After Cyrus of Persia defeated Croesus of Lydia in the middle of the 6th century B.C., Miletus fell under Persian rule.
SH73025. Electrum 1/12 stater, SNG Kayhan 444 - 448, SNG Cop -, VF, compact flan, weight 1.078 g, maximum diameter 7.4 mm, Miletos mint, 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse lion head right; reverse cruciform punch with four pellets connected to central pellet; $300.00 (261.00)

Lesbos, 550 - 480 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Apotropaic magic is a ritual observance that is intended to turn away evil. Curiously, eyes were often used to ward off the "evil eye."
GA71017. Billon 1/36th stater, SNG Mnchen 650; SNGvA 7716; SNG Cop 292; HGC 6 1074 (R1); BMC Troas, p. 152, 27; Trait 2/1; Rosen 548, gVF, weight 0.326 g, maximum diameter 5.9 mm, uncertain Koinon of Lesbos mint, 550 - 480 B.C.; obverse two apotropaic eyes; reverse incuse square; rare; $290.00 (252.30)

Celt-Iberian, Billon Ring Money, c. 2nd Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo Rings of the type have been found in Central Europe, France, Britain, and Spain. In Spain they are often found alongside silver bar and disk ingots, and 2nd Century B.C. denarii of the Roman Republic. This example is double the size and weight of more common examples.
CE72233. Silver Ring Money, large ring, debased silver, narrowing to split, cf. Alvarez-Burgos P5 (5.0 - 6.6g, no narrowing), VF, weight 13.139 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, c. 2nd Century B.C.; $270.00 (234.90)

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Catalog current as of Friday, February 27, 2015.
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Archaic Origins