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Home>Catalog>CollectingThemes>Numismatics>ArchaicOrigins PAGE 1/7123»»»

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.
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); $400.00 (€300.00)

Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 3rd Century B.C.
Click for a larger photo
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)

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Catalog current as of Saturday, April 19, 2014.
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Archaic Origins