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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ Other BirdView Options:  |  |  | 

Birds on Ancient Coins

Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. In early Greek art, Sirens were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers, and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps. Later Sirens were sometimes depicted as beautiful women, whose bodies, not only their voices, were seductive.
SH84464. Electrum hemihekte, Unpublished in major references; Naville auction VII (1924), Bement Collection, lot 1435; CNG, Triton XI (8 Jan 2008), lot 253, aEF, tight flan, earthen deposits, weight 1.367 g, maximum diameter 8.8 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse siren standing left; reverse incuse square punch; ex Numismatica Ars Classica, auction 92, part 2 (24 May 2016), lot 1476; this type is not published in the major references but many examples are known from auctions; rare; $1440.00 (Ä1281.60)


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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RPC notes that a worn specimen of this type "has recently turned up in a small hoard of bronzes from Syria, which otherwise had nothing later than AD 121/2." Prior to that date, only Augustus and Tiberius ruled long enough to issue coins dated year 21 and RPC suggests attribution to Augustus. We disagree. Year 21 of Augustus was seven years before his first dated coins. Tiberius ruled long enough, but the Alexandria mint stopped striking bronze in his year six. Trajan died on 8 or 9 August of his 20th year. In Alexandria, Trajan's 21st year would have begun on 29 August 117. We believe this type was struck after 29 August 117, in the few days before the mint was informed of his death. The short period explains the great rarity. After the mint was informed of Hadrian's accession, they changed the reverse type to the Apis bull right and the date to L B, year 2 of Hadrian.
RX85457. Bronze dichalkon, RPC I 5111 (5 spec.), Dattari 50, BMC Alexandria 2629, Kampmann A.5, Emmett 4260 (R5 for year 20, a misreading of year 21), Geissen -, F, irregular underweight flan, date weak, weight 0.810 g, maximum diameter 11.8 mm, die axis 315o, Alexandria mint, posthumous, 29 Aug - early Sep 117 A.D.; obverse ibis right; reverse crocodile right, L KA (year 21); very rare; $180.00 (Ä160.20)


Etruscan, Bronze Ladle Handle, 6th - 5th Century B.C.

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Ex Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia; ex Ran Ryan, from the collection of Alex G. Malloy. Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia was founded in 1889 in the Villa di Papa Giulio (Pope Julius), built in the mid-16th century for Pope Julius III. Today the museum is devoted to pre-Roman antiquities, from Umbria, Latium, and southern Etruria. In the 1950's the museum sold Roman antiquities to Rex Ryan, a dealer with a shop in Rome. Alex Malloy, an antiquities dealer in for 40 years, purchased some of these antiquities, including this piece, from Rex Ryan, in 1974.

Greek, Etruscan and Roman bronzes by Gisela Richter notes, "the shape is distinguished for its grace and simplicity" and "ladles of this type are commonly found together with black-figured and red-figured vases in tombs in Etruria."
AM12357. Bronze ladle handle; cf. Richter 648; 14 inches long; bifurcated top, each end with a duck head terminal (one head missing); green patina, $155.00 (Ä137.95)


Caria, Uncertain City (probably Mylasa), c. 420 - 390 B.C.

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Among the smallest coins ever minted.
GA76794. Silver tetartemorion, SNG Kayhan 940 - 943, SNG Keckman I 926, VF, weight 0.150 g, maximum diameter 5.7 mm, die axis 165o, Carian mint, c. 420 - 390 B.C.; obverse forepart of lion right, head turned back left; reverse bird standing left within incuse square; $100.00 (Ä89.00)







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