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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ GriffinView Options:  |  |  | 

Griffins on Ancient Coins

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are normally known for guarding treasure and well valued priceless possession.


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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This type commemorates vows made to Apollo invoking his protection against the revolt of Aureolus. During the siege of Milan, at a late hour but while he was still lingering with pleasures of the table, a false alarm was suddenly given, reporting that Aureolus, at the head of all his forces, had made a desperate sally from the town. Gallienus, who was never deficient in personal bravery, started from his silken couch, and without allowing himself time either to put on his armor or to assemble his guards, he mounted on horseback and rode full speed towards the supposed place of the attack. There he was ambushed by enemies from among his own officers. Amidst the nocturnal tumult, he received a mortal wound from an uncertain hand. Perhaps his request to Apollo was too specific and asked only for protection from Aureolus?

According to Philostratus, the griffin was sacred to Apollo or Sol. On coins of Aureliopolis in Lydia, griffins are represented drawing the chariot of the Sun.
RA91293. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 718z, RIC V-1 S165, RSC IV 77, Hunter IV S88, SRCV III 10180 var. (no IMP), VF, nice dark near black patina, weight 3.080 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Rome mint, 10th emission, 267 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse IMP GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse APOLLINI CONS AVG (to Apollo the preserver of the Emperor), griffin walking left, ∆ in exergue; $130.00 (€114.40)
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 387 - 246 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empúries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.
GS91377. Silver hemidrachm, Ashton-Kinns I 2 (O1/R2), SNG München 812, Waddington 1892, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, F, toned, rough, edge flaws, weight 1.915 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 315o, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) mint, c. 387 - 246 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left in crested Attic helmet, bowl wreathed in olive leaf; reverse griffin head left, AΘ monogram left; rare; $100.00 (€88.00)
 


"Kainon," Sicily, c. 367 - 340 B.C.

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This issue, assigned to Alaisa in many references, was perhaps produced by Thracian mercenaries operating in Sicily in the 4th century B.C.
GI89575. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 252, 10; SNG Cop 134 (Alaesa); SNG München 218 (Alaisa); SNG ANS 1178 (Alaesa); BMC Sicily p. 29, 8 (Alaesa); HGC 2 509, aVF, flat strike, scattered porosity, tight flan cutting off head of griffin, edge cracks, weight 8.657 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain mint, c. 367 - 340 B.C.; obverse griffin springing left, wings open, grasshopper left below; reverse horse prancing left, loose reigns flying behind, KAINON in exergue, star with eight rays around a central pellet above; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


Assos, Troas, c. 400 - 241 B.C.

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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).
GB86554. Bronze AE 11, cf. SNG Cop 237 - 238; SNGvA 7587 - 7589; SNG München 158 - 162; SNG Tübingen 2567; BMC Troas p. 37, 10 - 22 (all various control symbols), aVF, dark patina, slightly off center, pitting, weight 1.327 g, maximum diameter 11.1 mm, die axis 180o, Assos mint, c. 400 - 241 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena right, Attic helmet crested and ornamented with laurel branch and scroll; reverse griffin reclining left, AΣΣI above, obscure control symbol in exergue; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $50.00 (€44.00)


"Kainon," Sicily, c. 367 - 340 B.C.

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This issue, assigned to Alaisa in many references, was perhaps produced by Thracian mercenaries operating in Sicily in the 4th century B.C.
GI88961. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 252, 10; SNG Cop 134 (Alaesa); SNG München 218 (Alaisa); SNG ANS 1178 (Alaesa); BMC Sicily p. 29, 8 (Alaesa); HGC 2 509, aF, green patina, porous, edge split, weight 7.862 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain mint, c. 367 - 340 B.C.; obverse griffin springing left, wings open, grasshopper left below; reverse horse prancing left, loose reigns flying behind, KAINON in exergue, star with eight rays around a central pellet above; $40.00 (€35.20)
 


"Kainon," Sicily, c. 367 - 340 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
This issue, assigned to Alaisa in many references, was perhaps produced by Thracian mercenaries operating in Sicily in the 4th century B.C.
GI89072. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 252, 10; SNG Cop 134 (Alaesa); SNG München 218 (Alaisa); SNG ANS 1178 (Alaesa); BMC Sicily p. 29, 8 (Alaesa); HGC 2 509, F, dark patina, some corrosion, weight 8.185 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain mint, c. 367 - 340 B.C.; obverse griffin springing left, wings open, grasshopper left below; reverse horse prancing left, loose reigns flying behind, KAINON in exergue, star with eight rays around a central pellet above; $40.00 (€35.20)
 







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Catalog current as of Friday, July 19, 2019.
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