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

Archaic Electrum Coinage from Ionia (and its Neighbors)

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; $7400.00 SALE PRICE $6660.00
 


Western Anatolia, c. 620 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

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Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

Unpublished! The majority of the earliest electrum issues were struck on the lighter Milesian weight standard, with hectes weighing approximately 2.35 grams. This example, however is on the heavier Phocaic standard that was used at mints such as Cyzicus, Mysia and Phocaea, Ionia.
SH85577. Electrum hekte, Phokaic standard 1/6 stater; unpublished, EF, flan cracks, weight 2.721 g, maximum diameter 8.96 mm, uncertain western Anatolia mint, c. 620 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse one small incuse square punch; extremely rare; $3250.00 SALE PRICE $2925.00
 


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.
SH86291. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 32, 7 (c/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, bumps and scratches (mostly on edge), tiny edge crack, weight 2.566 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) 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 SALE PRICE $1800.00
 


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; $1080.00 (€918.00) ON RESERVE


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; $840.00 SALE PRICE $756.00
 


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; $810.00 SALE PRICE $729.00
 


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; $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references but we have handled a few and more are known from auction listings.
SH82715. Electrum hemihekte, Lydo-Milesian standard; cf. CNG auction (9 Mar 2016), lot 156; Elektron I 9; Weidauer -; Traité I -; SNG Kayhan -; Rosen -; Boston MFA -, VF, irregular flan, scratches, weight 1.151 g, maximum diameter 8.0 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse crude scarab beetle(?); reverse incuse punch; very rare; $650.00 SALE PRICE $585.00
 


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Plain Globular Type

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Mankind's first coin type! Rare and important. This is an example of the very earliest form of coinage; a type-less (blank) electrum globule, weighed to a specific standard, with a simple square punch mark on one side (two or three punch marks on larger denominations).
SH82692. Electrum hemihekte, 1/12 stater; SNG Kayhan 676, SNGvA 7763, Rosen 324, Traité -, Weidauer -, VF, bumps and scratches, weight 1.151 g, maximum diameter 7.6 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, period of the Artemision Find, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse incuse roughly square pyramidal punch; $630.00 SALE PRICE $567.00
 


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

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The referenced CNG coin is one of only a few other examples of this type known to Forum. Electrum coins with a very similar obverse type have been attributed to Erythrai. CNG identified this type and the referenced von Aulock coin as distinct from that group. The coins attributed to Erythrai have a quadripartite incuse also found on the Herakles-head electrum from that city. This coin and the von Aulock trite have a plain square punch. Also, the electrum at Erythrai are all struck on the Phokaic standard, while this and the von Aulock trite are on the Lydo-Milesian standard.
SH82714. Electrum hemihekte, Lydo-Milesian standard, 1/12 stater; unpublished in the standard references; CNG e-auction 387 (30 Nov 2016), lot 191; cf. SNGvA 7776 (trite), aVF, slightly off center, red earthen deposits, edge cracks, weight 1.134 g, maximum diameter 7.6 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 625 - 600 B.C.; obverse floral or stellate pattern; reverse roughly square punch with irregular markings within; very rare; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00 ON RESERVE




  



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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, June 23, 2018.
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Archaic Electrum