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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Anatolia ▸ Ionia ▸ Archaic ElectrumView Options:  |  |  |   

Archaic Electrum Coinage from Ionia

The earliest dated coin hoard was deposited in the foundation of the Artemision, the temple of Artemis at Ephesos, as an offering during construction, c. 600 B.C. These earliest coins, which included many of the types on this page, were struck from electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. The very earliest coins (sometimes described as proto-coins) were type-less (blank) electrum globules weighed to a specific standard with simple square punch marks on one side. After lines cut into the anvil (probably to prevent the blank globule from slipping) were transferred to coin, the obverse design was discovered. Soon, more complex designs were engraved into the anvil (and later into dies) and coinage as we know it was created. Click here to read "From the Origin of Coins to Croesus."


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 550 - 450 B.C.

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Kyzikos, purportedly the first Milesian colony, was located on the southwest shore of the Propontis in ancient Mysia next to the river Aisepos. Its prosperity was due principally to its two fine harbors, which made the city a convenient stopping point for merchant ships trading between the Aegean and Black Seas. Its principal export was the tunny, of which its waters had abundant stock. The prevalence of winged beings in Kyzikene coinage is a reflection of archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. In the case of the winged animals, we should probably understand these to be attributes of or animals sacred to a particular Olympian god.
SH86217. Electrum stater, Von Fritze I (Nomisma VII) 104 & pl. 3, 23; Boston MFA 1433; SNG BnF 245; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Mysia -, VF, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 16.091 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos mint, c. 550 - 450 B.C.; obverse winged dog seated left, head turned back right, curved archaic wing, wearing collar, tunny fish below to left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; extremely rare; $7800.00 (€6630.00)
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 625 - 522 B.C.

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Phocaea, or Phokaia, was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Greek colonists from Phocaea founded the colony of Massalia (modern day Marseille, in France) in 600 B.C., Emporion (modern day Empúries, in Catalonia, Spain) in 575 B.C. and Elea (modern day Velia, in Campania, Italy) in 540 B.C.
SH86204. Electrum hekte, Triton XVI, lot 464; Bodenstedt - (cf. Em. 1), aEF, well centered and struck, small edge cracks, weight 2.575 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) mint, c. 625/0 - 522 B.C.; obverse forepart of seal right, dolphin swimming downward behind, annulet or ring below; reverse irregular incuse square punch; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 40, lot 270; extremely rare; $3800.00 (€3230.00)
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 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.
SH86213. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt em. 32, 7 (d/γ); Weber III 5736 (= Bodenstedt 7); Boston MFA 1906, SNG Kayhan -; SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Ionia -, Rosen -, EF, superb archaic style, well struck, tight flan, weight 2.529 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Phocaea mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse archaic style head of Athena right, wearing Corinthian helmet, almond shaped eye, slight smile, long hair in rows of dots, dotted necklace, seal upward behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
 


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 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.
SH86214. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 31, 3 (b/β); SNGvA 7943 (= Bodenstedt 3); SNG Kayhan 518; BMC Ionia -; SNG Cop -; Boston MFA -, EF, attractive archaic style, minor die wear, tiny edge cracks, seal off flan, weight 2.559 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 0o, Phocaea mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse archaic style head of nymph left, almond eye, slight smile, curly hair as rows of dots, wearing close fitting cap ornamented with a row of dots, rosette earring, seal downward behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
 


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 (€1224.00)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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As reported by B.V. Head in Chapter 5 of Excavations at Ephesus: The Archaic Artemisia, a coin of this type was one of five coins found in excavations underneath the foundations of the southern wall of the B cella of the Artemisia at Ephesus. The other four coins were lion head and lion paw types. Head wrote these coins must have been deposited during construction of the First Temple (A). Weidauer 145 is the coin found at the Artemisia (= Head Artemisia 79), now at the Arkeoloji Müzesi, Istanbul. The Weidauer coins appear to be struck with the same obverse die.
SH84450. Electrum 1/24 stater, Milesian standard; Weidauer 145 - 146; Head Artemisia p. 86 and pl. 2, 79; cf. SNGvA 1781 (different style); Rosen 287 (same); SNG Kayhan 717 (same), gVF, centered, edge cracks, some die rust (also found on other examples of this type), weight 0.579 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse bridled head and neck of Pegasos left, with top edge of wing visible; reverse four raised squares in a cross pattern within incuse square punch; very rare; $1300.00 (€1105.00)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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The referenced Triton XIV coin is similar, but from different dies, and the only other coin of this type known to Forum.
SH84465. Electrum 1/24 stater, Unpublished in references; Classical Numismatic Group, Triton XIV (4 Jan 2011), lot 309 ($1800 plus fees), VF, well centered on a tight flan, edge cracks, weight 0.630 g, maximum diameter 7.1 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse cock standing left; reverse quadripartite incuse square punch; extremely rare; $1210.00 (€1028.50)
 


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)
 


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Rough Irregular "Typeless" Type

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Some sales catalogs describe similar coins as the striated type. The roughly parallel lines on the striated type appear to be impressed into the "obverse" by lines cut into the anvil. On this coin, it appears the rough irregular "typeless" surface is simply flattened rough pre-strike features from the raw irregular nugget-like "planchet." Based on the apparent wear on the reverse punch, huge numbers of this type may have been struck. Very few have survived. This is the first example handled by Forum.
SH77378. Electrum 1/24 stater, cf. SNGvA 7768, SNG Kayhan 682, Traité I 14 -15, Weidauer -, Rosen -, VF, weight 0.647 g, maximum diameter 5.7 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened rough irregular "typeless" surface; reverse roughly square incuse pyramidal punch with striated sides, divided roughly in half by a raised irregular line, striated sides and the irregular line appear to be the result of wear; very rare; $900.00 (€765.00)
 


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)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
Brett, A. Catalogue of Greek Coins, Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (Boston, 1955).
Bodenstedt, F. Die Elektronmünzen von Phokaia und Mytilene. (Tübingen, 1981).
Head, B. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Ionia. (London, 1892).
Karwiese, S. Die Münzprägung von Ephesos. I. Die Anfänge: Die ältesten Prägungen und der Beginn der Münzprägung überhaupt. (Cologne/Weimar, 1995)
Karwiese, S. "The Artemisium coin hoard and the first coins of Ephesus," RBN 137 (1991), pp. 1 - 28.
Linzalone, J. Electrum And The Invention of Coinage. (New Jersey, 2011).
Meadows, A. & R. Kan. History Re-Stored: Ancient Greek Coins from the Zhuyuetang Collection. (Hong Kong, 2004).
Mitchiner, M. Ancient Trade and Early Coinage. (London, 2004).
Münzen und Medaillen Deutschland. Sammlung Elektron. Catalog of public auction 7, 20 October 2000. Stuttgart.
Robinson, W. "The Date of the Earliest Coins" in Numismatic Chronicle 16. (1956) 1-8.
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 5: Ionia, Caria and Lydia. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 20: Ionien 1: (Frühes Elektron-Priene). (Berlin, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Münzsammlung Universität Tübingen, Part 4: Mysien - Ionien. (Berlin, 1989).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia. (Berlin, 1957).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Finland, The Erkki Keckman Collection in the Skopbank, Helsinki, Part II: Asia Minor except Karia. (Helsinki, 1999).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Vickers, M. "Early Greek Coinage: A Reassessment" in NC 145 (1985) 1-4.
Waggoner, N. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen (ANS ACNAC 5). (New York, 1983).
Weidauer, L. Problemeder frühen Elektronprägung, Typos I. (Fribourg, 1975).

Catalog current as of Saturday, November 18, 2017.
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Archaic Electrum