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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek CoinsView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Greek Coins

The sculpture of the ancient Greeks is acknowledged supreme and, although the art has often been revived over the last two millennia, man has rarely equaled the splendid classic Greek forms. In circles of mere millimeters, ancient Greek coins contain most of the finest qualities of the sculpture, and a subtle record of the harmonies of line and form. Taken collectively, ancient Greek coinage chronicles the archaic origins, the rise to classical height, and the decay of ancient Greek art, and also explains the causes of that rise and decline. The numismatic record thoroughly documents the political, commercial, cultural, and economic history of the ancient Greek world.

Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus I Monophthalmus or Antigonus II Gonatus, 306 - 270 B.C.

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Unpublished in the standard references and not yet fully attributed, this is only the second specimen of this extremely rare and important drachm known to Forum. Both specimens were struck with the same reverse die. Gorny & Mosch wrote of their specimen: "Troxell recorded a very rare issue of Alexandrine tetradrachms in the name of Gonatas (The Peloponnesian Alexanders, ANSMN 17, 1971, 75-6, note 68), which through hoard evidence was conclusively proven to be struck at Pella circa 272 (see R. W. Mathisen, Antigonus Gonatas and the Silver Coinages of Macedon circa 280-270 BC, ANSMN 26, 1981, pp. 79-123, esp. p. 104). However, this unique drachm has no controls that would explicitly tie it to the Pella mint tetradrachms, and even more perplexing is the style of the engraving, which is clearly dissimilar to the tetradrachms as well. One might suppose that it is in fact not a coin of Gonatas at all, but rather a hitherto unknown drachm of his grandfather, Antigonos I Monophthalmos. However, this also does not sit well, again for reasons of style, which is inconsistent with the period of Monophthalmos' reign. For the time being, therefore, this coin must remain a numismatic enigma until further evidence can shed additional light on it."

There are two auction records for the Gorny & Mosch specimen: Roma Numismatics auction 7 (22 Mar 2014), lot 454, sold for £ 4,800 plus fees; and Gorny & Mosch auction 203 (5 Mar 2012), lot 150, sold for € 3,200 plus fees. Our coin sold at Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, (4 May 2014), lot 152, apparently slipping through unnoticed by all but our astute consignor for € 575 plus fees.
SH71048. Silver drachm, unpublished in standard refs; cf. Roma Numismatics auction 7, lot 454 (same rev die) = Gorny & Mosch auction 203, lot 150, VF, reverse struck a bit flat, weight 3.845 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Greece or Macedonia mint, 306 - 270 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIΓONOY, Zeus Aetophoros enthroned left, throne with high back, eagle in extended right, long scepter vertical behind in left, right leg drawn back; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 16, lot 152; extremely rare, only two know specimens; $2250.00 SALE PRICE $2025.00

Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy IX Lathyros, Reign as King of Cyprus, 101 - 88 B.C.

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Ptolemy IX Lathyros ("grass pea") was king of Egypt three times, 116 B.C. to 110 B.C., 109 B.C. to 107 B.C. and 88 B.C. to 81 B.C., with intervening periods ruled by his brother, Ptolemy X Alexander. When this coin was struck Ptolemy IX ruled in Cyprus and Ptolemy X in Egypt.

Serifs are unique to just a few rare Ptolemaic coins from this time period. Perhaps all are the work of a single engraver. Serifs also appear on a very rare Kition tetradrachm of this ruler. They appear on the K behind the head of Arsinoe II on the latest of the octadrachms. The heavy-set portrait compares well to MFA 59.51, and not so well to images of Ptolemy I.
SH72904. Silver tetradrachm, apparently unpublished and unique!, VF, weight 13.234 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Paphos mint, as King of Cyprus, year 27, 91 - 90 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy IX right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, eagle standing left on a thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, date LKZ (year 27) before, ΠA mint mark behind, all letters with serifs; $2250.00 SALE PRICE $2025.00

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.
SH70877. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer 509 (V268/R362), SNG ANS 162 (same dies), VF, attractive Arethusa, obverse die worn, edge flaw, weight 16.852 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 460 - 450 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, reins in both hands, Nike flying right above crowning horses, ketos swimming right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, diademed head of Arethusa right, hair rolled and tucked under diadem, wearing earring and necklace, four dolphins swimming around clockwise; $1800.00 SALE PRICE $1620.00

Roman Civil Wars, Revolt of Galba, Governor of Spain, April - June 68 A.D.

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Galba lived in Tarraco for eight years. This coin was issued by Galba as governor of Spain in revolt against Nero. The obverse is copied from Republican denarii struck in 62 B.C. by the moneyer L. Scribonius Libo.
SH63560. Silver denarius, RIC I 9 (R4), RSC II 396, BMCRE I 9, SRCV I 2072, F, toned, weight 3.515 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 225o, Tarraco(?) mint, Apr - Jun 68 A.D.; obverse BON EVENT, young female head (Bonus Eventus) right, fillet around forehead; reverse ROM RENASC, Roma standing right in military garb, Victory on globe in right hand, eagle-tipped scepter over left shoulder in left; bargain priced for this interesting R4 rarity implying the restoration of the Republic!, from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare (R4); $1300.00 SALE PRICE $1170.00

Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH73442. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt Em. 99; SNG Cop 321; SNGvA 1729; HGC 6 1025; Boston MFA 1735; Weber 5631, gVF, fine style, minor die wear, weight 2.564 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Kabeiros right, wearing wreath and pileus, two stars flanking cap; reverse head of Persephone right in linear square; ex Triton XVII (6 - 7 Jan 2015), lot 599; ex CNG auction 72 (14 Jun 2006), lot 714; $1300.00 SALE PRICE $1170.00

Hellenistic Greek, Bronze Relief Ring Fragment, Anatolia, 3rd - 2nd Century B.C.

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This bronze ring fragment is nearly identical to referenced the ring fragment currently in The J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California, listed in Spier Rings, as shown to the right. It is clearly the same woman depicted and they are very likely from the same engraver and workshop. The Getty Museum piece is similarly missing almost the entire hoop.Skepsis
AS72537. Spier Rings 90 (nearly identical fragment!, bezel 21.1 x 17.3 x 4.5 mm), fragment, entire bezel present, only traces of the hoop remain, rough green patina, some corrosion, bezel 22.5 x 18.3 x 4.7 mm, high relief portrait of a woman facing left (perhaps a Ptolemaic queen), draped and wearing her hair in melon coiffure; $1250.00 SALE PRICE $1125.00

Herbessos, Sicily, c. 344 - 335 B.C.

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The site of the native Sikel Herbessos is uncertain but it was probably located near Leontinoi. Like other Sikel towns, it supported Carthage against Syracuse, however, in 396 B.C. Herbessos formed an alliance with Dionysos I. In 310 B.C., Agathokles installed a garrison to hold it against Carthage. In 309 B.C., with the aid of Akragas, the city expelled the garrison and claimed its freedom. In the Punic Wars, Herbessos was repeatedly held by Carthage until taken by Rome. About 213 B.C., Herbesso became a civitas decumana, paying 1/10th of its annual harvest to Rome. Although it probably continued to exist for centuries, it then disappears from history.
GI72187. Bronze drachm, Castrizio series II, 1 (354- 344 B.C); Calciati III, p. 252, 4; SNG Morcom 593; SNG Lloyd 1002; Rizzo pl. LIX, 17; HGC 2 411 (R2), VF, overstruck on Syracuse drachm, weight 32.639 g, maximum diameter 33.1 mm, die axis 270o, Herbessos mint, c. 344 - 335 B.C.; obverse EPBEΣΣINΩN, head of Sikelia right, hair adorned with myrtle olive wreath; reverse forepart of man-faced bull right; big bronze!; rare; $1200.00 SALE PRICE $1080.00

Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Tyre, Phoenicia

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Dido, the founder and first queen of Carthage, is primarily known from Virgil's Aeneid. Upon succeeding their father as king of Tyre, Dido's brother Pygmalion had her husband Sichaeus killed in a plot to seize his immense wealth. Dido, with a large group of friends and followers, escaped Tyre, carrying with them all of Sichaeus? treasure. As depicted on the reverse of this coin, Dido made a sacrifice at the temple of Melqart-Hercules before leaving. The reverse on some other Valerian types, we know of one example struck with this same obverse die, depict Dido in Carthage beginning construction.
RP75357. Bronze dichalkon, Unpublished in the many references examined by Forum, cf. SNG Righetti 2354 (radiate and cuirassed bust), Rouvier 2503 (same), VF, well centered, porous, flan adjustment marks, weight 11.064 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 180o, Tyre mint, Oct 253 - Jun 260 A.D.; obverse IMP CP LIC VALERIANVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse COL TVRO MET, Dido standing right, kalathos on head, extending both hands toward a distyle temple of Melqart-Hercules in perspective to upper right, club within the temple, flaming column altar at her feet, murex shell on right below temple; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection; the best of the few examples of the type known to Forum; extremely rare; $1100.00 SALE PRICE $990.00

Judaean Kingdom, Herod Agrippa I, 37 - 44 A.D.

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Agrippa spent much of his boyhood at the imperial court in Rome and was close to both Caligula and Claudius. One of Claudius' first acts was a treaty guaranteeing Agrippa's kingdom, with the title "great king," and granting the additional territory of Chalcis to Agrippa's elder brother Herod V. The reverse of this coin depicts a victimarius (sacrificial assistant) about to kill a pig to sanctify the oaths of this treaty. Both Josephus (Jospehus, Ant. xix.5.1) and Suetonius (Suetonius, Claud. 25.5) wrote that Claudius and Agrippa performed this fetial ceremony in the center of the Forum in Rome.
SH66828. Bronze AE 26, Hendin 1245, Meshorer AJC II p. 248, 8, Meshorer TJC 121; RPC I 4983, F, weight 15.186 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 0o, Caesarea Maritima mint, 42 - 43 A.D.; obverse TIBEPIOΣ KAICAP ΣEBAΣTOΣ ΓEPM (Tiberius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), laureate head of Claudius right; reverse BAΣIΛEYΣ MEΓAΣ AΓPIΠΠAΣ ΦIΛOKAIΣAP (the Great King Agrippa, friend of Caesar), figures of Agrippa and Claudius stand facing each other within a distyle temple, priest(?) standing in center background, victimarius kneeling in center at feet holding pig, LZ (regnal year 7) in pediment; ex William M. Rosenblum auction 43A, lot 18; very rare; $1050.00 SALE PRICE $945.00

Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH76169. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG MŁnchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, no test cuts, nice Athena and owl, well centered on a tight flan, as frequent almost all the crest off flan, toned, light scratches and contact marks, weight 17.042 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 135o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C. (probably close to 404 B.C.); obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; $1000.00 SALE PRICE $900.00


Catalog current as of Monday, November 30, 2015.
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Greek Coins