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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Non-Olympian ▸ NymphsView Options:  |  |  |   

Nymphs on Ancient Coins

Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reins in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2270.00 (€1929.50)
 


Thasos, Thrace, c. 480 - 463 B.C.

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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.
GA87298. Silver stater, SNG Cop 1013; Svoronos HPM p. 97, 12, pl. X, 21; McClean 4198; Franke-Hirmer 436; BMC Thrace p. 218, 28; HGC 6 331, gVF, well centered and struck, light tone, die wear, weight 8.833 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, Thasos mint, c. 480 - 463 B.C.; obverse nude ithyphallic satyr kneeling-running right, carrying in his arms a struggling nymph, raising her right hand in protest, both with long strait hair indicated with lines, she wears a long chiton, her palm is facing, Θ (Thasos) below; reverse quadripartite incuse square; ex Steven Battelle, ex Harlan J. Berk, buy or bid sale 198 (7 Jul 2016), lot 74; rare with Θ; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.

The star on the reverse could represent Halley's comet which was visible for 75 days in 466 B.C.
GB88328. Bronze hemilitron, ex Ancient Imports Calciati II p. 39, 16; Favorito Signed type 74 (c. 425-420 BC); SNG ANS 398; SNG München 1100; HGC 2 1481 (S); BMC Sicily -, VF, the finest classical style, attractive glossy dark green and black patina, patina flaking (stable), weight 4.484 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, Syracuse mint, c. 410 - 405 B.C.; obverse ΣVPA, head of nymph Arethusa left, wearing diadem and pearl necklace, E (signature of the master engraver Euaninetos) behind; reverse star of eight rays within incuse circle in center of quadripartite incuse square; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


Sicily, Abakainon, 339 - 317 B.C.

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Abakainon was a native Sicel city that adopted Greek culture, but allied with Carthage. In the 5th century B.C., it was powerful and important. In 396, Dionysios I of Syracuse seized part of its territory and founded the city Tyndaris. The Carthaginian general Mago came to their aid but was defeated outside the city walls. Abakainon fell under the hegemony of Syracuse and as Tyndaris grew and prospered, Abakainon diminished to insignificance. It suffered a major earthquake in the 1st century A.D. but survived at least until the 2nd century. Tommaso Fazello (1498 - 1570) described the ruins as indicating a large city which had been destroyed to its foundations. The village of Tripi was founded on the ruins in 1061.
GB86300. Bronze tetras, Calciati I 5; SNG ANS 901; HGC 2 34 (S); SNG Cop -, SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Lloyd -, gVF, well centered, dark green patina, bumps and scratches, tiny spots of slight corrosion, obverse center struck a little flat, weight 2.404 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 225o, Abakainon (Tripi, Sicily) mint, 339 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of a nymph left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, wearing drop earring; reverse ABAKAINI-NΩN, forepart of bull charging left, head turned facing; very rare; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysios I, c. 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
GS86597. Silver hemilitron, SNG ANS 301; SNG Cop 669; SNG Lloyd 1379; BMC Sicily p. 182, 237; Boehringer Münzprägungen pl. II, 19; HGC 2 1392 (R2) , VF, dark toning, light marks and corrosion, tiny edge cracks, weight 0.434 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 395 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa left, wearing drop earring, hair bound in ampyx and sphendone, no control symbol or signature; reverse four-spoked wheel, SY-PA in upper quarters, two dolphins heads downward nose to nose in lower quarters; very rare; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Sicily, Abakainon, c. 410 - 396 B.C.

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Even today, Sicilian farmers allow their indigenous Sicilian Black Swine to forage for acorns in the oak forests of the Nebrodi Mountains near ancient Abakainon. Physically resembling and often mistaken for wild boar, they stand about 70 centimeters high and have a prominent ridge of spinal bristles running from its large head to about midway along its back. There are fewer than 2000 of these swine today. Their meat, especially Nebrodi ham, is highly prized as the pig's wild woodlands diet enhances the flavor.
GI86596. Silver litra, SNG München 4 (same rev. die); SNG Tübingen 552; SNG ANS 899; BMC Sicily p. 2, 8; Weber 1171; HGC 2 20 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG Lloyd -, gVF, toned, some bumps and scratches, some corrosion, weight 0.675 g, maximum diameter 11.7 mm, die axis 45o, Abakainon (Tripi, Sicily) mint, c. 410 - 396 B.C.; obverse head of water nymph facing slightly left; reverse sow and piglet walking right, piglet before her, below her head, double exergue line, BA above, A in exergue, within round incuse; rare; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


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

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BCD Thessaly II notes this obverse die appears to have been altered (reworked).
GS73413. Silver drachm, Lorber-Shahar early group 3 (O25/R6), BCD Thessaly II 197 (same dies), Lorber Early 11.- (same obverse die), F, etched surfaces, die wear, weight 5.793 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 405 - 370 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly right, partially radiate hair with hornlike locks of hair on crown above ampyx, drop earring, plain necklace; reverse horse grazing right, legs straight, ΛAPI above; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "T/ne ex Thessaly, Sept. 2004, €55.-" ; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 356 - 342 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.
GS73416. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 313; BMC Thessaly p. 31, 76; SNG Cop 122; HGC 4 453, F, some light scratches, weight 5.223 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Larissa mint, c. 356 - 342 B.C.; obverse head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, pendant earring, and simple necklace; reverse horse crouching right, left foreleg bent and raised, preparing to roll onto the ground, ΛAPI/ΣAIΩN in two lines starting in exergue, ending above; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "T/ne ex Thessaly, June 95, SFr. 50.-"; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 369 - 360 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.
GS73410. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly I 1146, HGC 4 439 (R1), BCD Thessaly II 281 - 282, F, etched obverse surface, punch on obverse left eye, weight 5.906 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 369 - 360 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly right, hair floating freely, round curl on right, neck truncation elongated and very gently bow-shaped; reverse ΛAPI above, horse grazing right with straight legs; ex BCD Collection with his tag; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 356 - 342 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
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.
GS73426. Silver drachm, BCD Thessaly II 324; BMC Thessaly p. 31, 76; SNG Cop 122; HGC 4 453, gF, etched surfaces, porous, weight 5.781 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 315o, Larissa mint, c. 356 - 342 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Larissa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx, earring, and wire necklace; reverse horse crouching right, left foreleg raised, preparing to lie down, ΛAPIΣ/AIΩN in two lines, first line in exergue, ending above; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "G/ni ex Thessaly, May 1997, SFr 60.-"; $160.00 (€136.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Imhoof-Blumer, F. “Nymphen und Chariten auf griechischen Münzen” in JIAN 11 (1908).

Catalog current as of Monday, March 18, 2019.
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Nymphs