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 . . .
Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, 449 - 413 B.C.
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.
SH68244. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31 ff., SGCV I 2526, gVF, banker's mark on cheek, weight 17.02 g, maximum diameter 24.33 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 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; $1200.00 (900.00)
Lyttus, Crete, c. 450 - 320 B.C.
References do not describe the obverselegend, but it is also present on the Svoronos plate.
SH65976. Silver drachm, Svoronos Crete p. 231, 19 and pl.XXI, 13; BMC 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; $850.00 (637.50)
Dynasts of Lycia, Uvug, c. 470 - 440 B.C.
SH66266. Silver tetrobol, Winsemann 92, SNGvA 4119, SNG CopSupp. 430, SGCV II 5194, gVF, weight 3.005 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 180o, c. 470 - 440 B.C.; obverse forepart of winged man-headed bull right; reverse OFOV, young female (Sphinx?) head right in dotted square within incuse square; $550.00 (412.50)
Aspendos, Pamphylia, 415 - 400 B.C.
On later examples the positions become standardized with the wrestler on the left holding the arm of the wrestler on the right.
SH65992. Silver stater, Tekin Series 1; SNG BnF 47 (same dies), aVF, struck with a worn obverse die, weight 10.874 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 415 - 400 B.C.; obverse two wrestlers with advanced legs crossed; on the left holds opponents left leg with his right hand and his right is on his opponents waist; on the right holds the left shoulder of opponent with his right hand and his left is on his opponent's waist; reverse EΣTCE∆HVΣ, slinger discharging sling to right, left leg forward with knee bent, wearing chiton longer than on later issues, triskeles on right with feet clockwise, all in square border of dots within square incuse; very rare; $520.00 (390.00)
Persian Empire, Dynasts of Lycia, Uncertain Dynast, c. 520 - 480 B.C.
Minted in Lycia, Anatolia while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest.
SH63914. Silver stater, SNG CopSupp. 370, SNGvA 4049 - 4050, VF, soft strike, weight 8.701 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 90o, Lycian mint, c. 520 - 480 B.C.; obverse forepart of a boar left; reverseIncuse with square projections entering from three sides, transected by crossed narrow lines; $500.00 (375.00)
Cilicia (Uncertain City, Kelenderis?), 4th Century B.C.
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; $450.00 (337.50)
Roman Republic, Cast Coinage, c. 280 - 265 B.C.
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, obverse acorn; reverse large Σ (mark of value); $450.00 (337.50)
Taras, Tarentum, Calabria, Italy, c. 500 - 430 B.C.
Nearly all the similar litra of Taras clearly depict a female, the nymph Satyrion, Taras' mother (his father was Poseidon). This head appears to be male. In Vlasto, Ravel identifies it as Taras(?).
SH63460. Silver litra, Vlasto 1160 (same dies), VF, weight 0.816 g, maximum diameter 9.9 mm, die axis 135o, Taras mint, c. 500 - 430 B.C.; obverse cockle shell, linear border; reverse head of Taras(?) left, in round incuse; very rare; $400.00 (300.00)
Akragas (Agrigentum), Sicily, c. 450 B.C.
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; $400.00 (300.00)
Thasos, Thrace, c. 525 - 463 B.C.
Nymphs are nature spirits who appear as beautiful, young nubile maidens. They dwell in mountains, valleys and groves, by springs and rivers, and also in trees and cool grottoes. Nymphs love to dance and sing and are the frequent target of satyrs. Satyrs are male companions of Pan and Dionysus with goat-like features, including a goat-tail, goat-like ears, and sometimes a goat-like phallus. As Dionysiac creatures, Satyrs are lovers of wine and women and ready for every physical pleasure. They are obsessed with nymphs.
SH63504. Silver stater, SNG Cop 1008 ff., SGCV I 1357, F, struck with a typically worn, damaged die, weight 8.865 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 315o, c. 525 - 463 B.C.; obverse naked ithyphallic satyr in kneeling running attitude right carrying in his arms a struggling nymph who raises her right hand in protest; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $380.00 (285.00)