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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ Bull or CowView Options:  |  |  |   

Cattle on Ancient Coins

Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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Strabo wrote, "The Romans possess Lugdunum, founded below a ridge at the confluence of the Arar and the Rhone. It is the most populous of all the other cities except Narbo; for it is a center of commerce, and the Roman emperors strike their silver and gold coinage there." (4.3.2)
SH85701. Silver denarius, RIC I 167a, BMCRE I 451, RSC I 137, BnF I 1373, Hunter I 197, SRCV I 1610, Choice EF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, dark toning, light marks, slightest porosity, weight 3.630 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverse AVGVSTVS DIVI•F, bare head right, dot border; reverse bull butting right, left foreleg raised, lashing tail, IMP•X in exergue, linear border; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
 


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.
SH86212. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, HGC 6 938 (S), gVF, well centered, edge crack, 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 left; scarce; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus' wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as "rich as Croesus" or "richer than Croesus" are used to indicate great wealth to this day. According to Herodotus, Croesus encountered the Greek sage Solon and, secure in his own wealth and happiness, asked Solon who was the happiest man in the world. He was disappointed by Solon's response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had pulled her to a festival in an oxcart. Solon explained that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man's life cannot be judged until after his death. Sure enough, Croesus' hubristic happiness was reversed by the tragic death of his accidentally-killed son, his wife's suicide at the fall of Sardis, and his defeat at the hands of the Persians.
GS86220. Silver stater, SNG Kayhan 1018; SNG Cop 455; SNGvA 2873; SNG Ashmolean 760; BMC Lydia p. 7, 37; Traité II/1 407, pl. X, 7; Sunrise 10; Rosen 662; SGCV II 3419, F, toned, weight 10.478 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 560 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left, pellet above lion's head; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


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.
SH86205. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, HGC 6 938, Choice EF, well centered and struck, fine style, edge cracks, weight 2.577 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, die axis 30o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left; $900.00 (€765.00)
 


Eryx, Sicily, c. 344 - 339 B.C.

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Eryx was founded by Elymians on the summit of a mountain in northwest Sicily, about 10 km from Drepana (modern Trapani), and 3 km from the sea-coast, at the site of modern Erice. The Elymians maintained friendly relations and alliances with Carthage and came into frequent conflict with the Greeks. In 397 B.C., however, Eryx joined Dionysius I of Syracuse. It was speedily recovered by Himilco the following year. It again fell into the hands of Dionysius shortly before his death in 367 B.C., but was soon recovered by the Carthaginians, and probably was subject to their rule until the expedition of Pyrrhus in 278 B.C.
GS84640. Silver litra, Campana CNAI 47; Jenkins I pl. 24, 24; SNG ANS 1348; Jameson 1894; Winterthur 630; HGC 2 324 (????) corr. (male head/man-faced bull); SNG Cop -, VF, toned, tight flan, obverse slightly off center, weight 0.567 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 270o, Eryx (Erice, Sicily) mint, Punic rule, c. 344 - 339 B.C.; obverse head of nymph left, hair in a bun at the crown, wearing triple-pendant earring and necklace; reverse bull standing left, Punic "RK" above; from the Nicholas Molinari Collection; very rare; $765.00 (€650.25)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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King Kroisos minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but with his defeat by Kyros in 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy.
GS86281. Silver 1/3 stater, Traité I 412, Rosen 666, Boston MFA 2071, Sunrise 12, SGCV II 3421, SNG Kayhan -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, gVF, toned, well centered, lightly etched surfaces, weight 3.411 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 550 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; $550.00 (€467.50)
 


Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.

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Kephaloidoion, on Cape Cefalu, was under the influence of nearby Himera until c. 405 B.C. In 396 B.C., the town allied with General Himilco of Carthage against Dionysos of Syracuse but was defeated. Agathocles besieged and conquered the city in 307 B.C. Kephaloidion was again allied with Carthage at the beginning of the First Punic War but the citizens opened the gates when the Roman fleet appeared off the shore in 254 B.C. The city faded but survived at least into the second century A.D.
GI76952. Bronze AE 17, Calciati I, p. 371, 1; HGC 2 649 (R2); SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Tub -, VF, green patina, light marks, reverse off center, weight 4.367 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 135o, Kephaloidion (Cefalu, Sicily) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C. (references vary greatly); obverse KEΦAΛOI∆I, Herakles head right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse bull butting right, club above, linear border; very rare; $450.00 (€382.50)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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King Kroisos minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but with his defeat by Kyros in 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy.
GS86286. Silver 1/6 stater, SNG Kayhan 1019, Sunrise 13, Rosen 667, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Lydia -, Traité -, Boston MFA -, VF, well centered and struck, porous, uneven toning, weight 1.721 g, maximum diameter 11.3 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 550 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; rare; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Gela, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Gela, named after the river Gela, was founded by colonists from Rhodos and Crete around 688 B.C. In 424 B.C., the Congress of Gela established a "Sicily for the Sicilians" platform and formed a league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island. The city had a history of internal strife between its plebs and aristocrats. When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they easily captured the Gela with the help of its elites. In 282 B.C., Phintias of Agrigento ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. In Roman times it was only a small settlement.
SH76948. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 17, 32/1; Jenkins Gela 516; SNG ANS 115; SNG Cop 283; SNG Munchen 314; BMC Sicily, p. 73, 66; HGC 2 379 (S), gVF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, light marks and corrosion, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 90o, Gela mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head lowered and turned slightly facing, barley kernel over ΓEΛAΣ above, three pellets in exergue; reverse horned head of beardless young river-god Gela right, no diadem, floating hair, barley kernel behind; scarce; $290.00 (€246.50)
 


Thurium (Thurioi), Lucania, Italy, c. 410 - 350 B.C.

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Nearly 70 years after Sybaris was destroyed by the Crotoniats, a new colony was founded on the site on the Gulf of Taranto. Soon after, on the advice of an oracle, the settlers moved a short distance away near a fountain named Thuria, after which the new city was named.
SL85594. Silver nomos, HN Italy 1791c, SNG ANS 1041, SNG Cop 1442, SNG ANS 1028, SNG München 1196, BMC Italy -, NGC VF, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (3987747-003), weight 7.67 g, maximum diameter 22 mm, die axis 180o, Thourioi mint, c. 410 - 350 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing necklace and crested Athenian helmet decorated with Skylla holding trident in right hand, rudder over shoulder in left hand; reverse ΘOYPIΩN, bull butting right, lashing tail, head lowered, HP monogram above, tunny fish right below; NGC certified (slabbed); ex Heritage auction 231729, lot 63004; $285.00 (€242.25)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Molinari, N.J. & N. Sisci. Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity. (Oxford, 2016).

Catalog current as of Sunday, November 19, 2017.
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