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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Facing HeadsView Options:  |  |  |   

Facing Heads on Ancient Coins

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."
SH86215. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 86, - (-/η, unlisted obv. die); HGC 6 1012 (R1); BMC Troas p. 163, 71; SNG Cop 319; SNGvA 7738; Trait II 2190, VF, classical style, obverse die rust, reverse die wear, tight flan, weight 2.529 g, maximum diameter 11.1 mm, die axis 15o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Athena facing slightly right, wearing triple crested Attic helmet, earring, and necklace; reverse draped bust of Hermes right, petasos on string hanging behind his neck, all within a linear square, all in square incuse but not visible because the die was larger than the flan; rare; $750.00 (637.50)


Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

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Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB85628. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 486 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1210 var. (MOΨEIΩN), Rogers 412 var. (same), McClean 4648 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC -, gVF, green patina, bold centered strike on a tight flan, small pits including one on tip of nose., weight 7.719 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨEI-ATΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag; very rare; $600.00 (510.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with rare examples signed E or EΞ. Stylistic differences suggest other engravers also worked the issue. This example, signed EE, is of the very finest style and clearly the work of Exakestidas. EΞ was probably intended. No other examples of the type signed EE are known to Forum.
SH83659. Bronze tetras, cf. Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29 (unlisted dies); SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Mn 1107; HGC 2 1432 (R1, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Tub -; SNG Morcom -, aEF, the finest style, nice green patina, light corrosion, edge flaws, weight 2.23 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing taenia, earring, and necklace, anepigraphic, EE (master engraver signature, blundered EΞ for Exakestidas) lower left below hair; reverse octopus; ex Savoca Numismatik GmbH & Co. KG, auction 6 (9 Apr 2015), lot 68; $450.00 (382.50)


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, 404 - 370 B.C.

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When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late fifth century B.C., it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the local fountain nymph Larissa, for whom the town was named, probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses.
GS85151. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 380.18 (same dies), Lorber Early group IV H23, 65.1(a) (this obv. die), BCD Thessaly I 1144.2, Hoover HGC 430, Choice VF, toned, fine style, areas of light etching, weight 6.075 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, 404 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly right, wearing necklace, hair confined by ampyx and floating loosely; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, dotted exergual line, ΛAPI above; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); $450.00 (382.50)


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 405 - 370 B.C.

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The obverse of most of the coins of Larissa depicted the nymph of the local spring, Larissa, for whom the town was named. The choice was probably inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse usually depicted a horse in various poses. The horse was an appropriate symbol of Thessaly, a land of plains, which was well known for its horses. On other coins, there is a male figure, probably the eponymous hero of the Thessalians, Thessalos.
GS79835. Silver drachm, Lorber Early 89.1 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1148, BCD Thessaly II 215 var. (facing slightly right), VF, toned, area of corrosion, reverse double struck, uneven strike, weight 5.835 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 405 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, earring, and wire necklace; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, ΛAPIΣ above; ex Amphora Coins; $320.00 (272.00)


Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, Class A3, Basil II & Constantine VIII, c. 1023 - 11 November 1028 A.D.

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The emperor's name and portrait are not part of the design on the Byzantine types referred to as anonymous folles. Instead of the earthly king, these coins depict Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
BZ86181. Bronze anonymous follis, Anonymous follis of Christ, class A3; SBCV 1818; Grierson ornaments 45, Nice gVF, well centered, attractive toned bronze surfaces, weight 8.872 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, c. 1023 - 11 Nov 1028 A.D.; obverse + EMMANOVHL, facing bust of Christ, wearing nimbus cruciger with crescents in each limb of cross, pallium, and colobium, holding gospels with both hands, to left IC, to right XC; reverse + IhSuS / XRISTuS / bASILEu / bASILE (Jesus Christ King of Kings), ornamentation above and below legend; $300.00 (255.00)


Rhodes, Carian Islands, c. Mid 4th Century B.C.

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This may be a fraction of the Pseudo-Rhodian "solar disk drachm" that Ashton suggests may be from Lampsakos under Memnon of Rhodes. Bronzes of a similar style are now known.
GS84169. Silver tetartemorion, Other than the two previous auction listings for this coin, apparently unpublished, VF, edge chip, weight 0.128 g, maximum diameter 6.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rhodos (Rhodes, Greece) mint, c. mid 4th century B.C.; obverse facing radiate head of Helios, delicate linear ring around; reverse rose bloom; ex CNG e-auction 377 (29 Jun 2016), lot 130; ex Numismatik Naumann Auction 39 (3 Jan 2016), lot 386; unique(?); $280.00 (238.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76951. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 195.12; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; Calciati III p. 57, 24; SNG Cop 168; SNG Munchen V 410; HGC 2 547 (S); SNG ANS 1226 var. (style), gVF, well centered, attractive dark brown surfaces, some light corrosion, weight 3.552 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 225o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with neatly waved hair, pearled headband, smiling expression, dimpled cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $270.00 (229.50)


Byzantine Anonymous Follis of Christ, Class I, Nicephorus III, 7 January 1078 - 1 April 1081

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BZ86180. Bronze anonymous follis, Anonymous follis of Christ, class I; SBCV 1889, gVF, excellent bust of Christ, weight 3.510 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 180o, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 7 Jan 1078 - 1 Apr 1081; obverse Christ bust facing, wearing nimbus cruciger, pallium, and colobium, raising right in benediction, gospels in left; reverse Latin cross with X at center, globule and two pellets at each extremity, floral ornaments in lower fields, crescents in upper fields; $270.00 (229.50)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GI86192. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 194; Calciati III p. 55, 20; SNG ANS 1226; HGC 2 547 (S); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, EF, dark patina, some roughness, tight flan, weight 3.573 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 150o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with radiating locks, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, no hairband, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, grasping lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $270.00 (229.50)




  



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Facing Heads