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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."


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 Electrum hemihekte, Unpublished in major references; Naville auction VII (1924), Bement Collection, lot 1435; CNG, Triton XI (8 Jan 2008), lot 253, aEF, tight flan, earthen deposits, weight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)
 


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)
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references but known from auction listings, some of which fail to notice the two "eyes."
SH84755. Electrum hemihekte, 1/12 stater Lydo-Milesian standard; cf. CNG auction (9 Mar 2016), lot 156 (same dies); Elektron I 9 corr.; Weidauer -; Traité I -; SNG Kayhan -, aVF, scratches, weight 1.136 g, maximum diameter 7.8 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse plain with to pellets side-by-side on the edge (crude scarab beetle?); reverse irregular six-lobed incuse pattern; very rare; $630.00 (€535.50)
 


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 454 - 427 B.C.

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Mytilene revolted against Athens in 428 B.C. but was overcome by an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children into slavery but changed its mind the next day. A fast trireme sailed the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought the decision to cancel the massacre.
SH85699. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 52; Boston MFA 1700; SNG Cop 325; SNGvA 7731; SNG Fitzwilliam 4344; BMC Troas p. 121, 56 & pl. 32, 25; HGC 6 978 (R1), aVF, weight 2.573 g, maximum diameter 11.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 454 - 427 B.C.; obverse young male head (river god?) right, short hair, wearing taenia; reverse archaizing bearded male head (Dionysos?) right, long pointed beard, within incuse square; $580.00 (€493.00)
 


Miletos, Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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By the 6th century B.C., Miletus had earned a maritime empire with many colonies, but brushed up against powerful Lydia at home, and the tyrant Polycrates of its neighbor to the west, Samos. When Cyrus of Persia defeated Croesus of Lydia in the middle of the 6th century B.C., Miletus fell under Persian rule.
SH85713. Electrum 1/24th stater, SNG Kayhan 453, SNGvA 1803, Klein 416, Mitchiner ATEC 210, SNG Cop -, Rosen -, Choice VF, attractive well centered lion head, weight 0.586 g, maximum diameter 6.3 mm, die axis 0o, Miletos (near Balat, Turkey) mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse facing lion's head, mane radiating around; reverse irregular incuse punch; $350.00 (€297.50)
 







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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 Monday, October 23, 2017.
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Archaic Electrum