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Egyptian Scarabs

Alex G. Malloy Fixed Price Catalog Spring 1974 

Cataloged by Peter Sharrer.  Illustrations by Irene Fraley.  Reprinted by permission from Alex G. Malloy
Additional content and color photos and electronic format and layout by Joseph Sermarini (2009).



The Egyptian Scarab

Along with the pyramids, sphinxes, and mummies the scarab amulet is probably the most familiar object representing Egypt.  Although scarabs have been collected for centuries and with particular interest in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this has not been true since the period before the second world war.  We believe this to be the first catalog after that time offering scarabs to collectors which does not simply add a few scarabs to a general offering of antiquities. 

The meaning of the Kheper or Scarab is becoming, being, metamorphosing, generation, new life, virility, resurrection; certainly an essential symbol in Egyptian art.  Although there is some disagreement as to when the scarab amulet was first made, it is generally accepted that with the beginning of the Middle Kingdom the form was being used. 

Of the literature available on scarabs the majority has been published between the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the period just before the second world war.  As a general introduction one could select from any number of works from this period, but I think part of the first paragraph from W.F.M. Petrie's classic work Scarabs and Cylinders with Names, published in 1917, serves this purpose admirably.    

The little amulets of beetle form, which are the most usual production of Egyptian art, have fascinated the amateur collector for a century past, but have not yet fully received the scientific attention which is due to them.  the most obviously interesting class of them are those with the names of kings, of the royal family, and of officials.  These carry with them in most cases a dating, which fixes their historical position.  they stand thus to Egyptian history much as coins stand in relation to Western history.  They often add historical matter which is otherwise lost to us; and the style of their art and manufacture serves as an index to the changes which went on in the civilization.  (Scarabs and Cylinders with Names, p. 1)

The offering of this collection of scarabs affords the collector and excellent cross section of the Egyptian scarab from the early  12th Dynasty through Roman times.  It is our hope that this sale catalog will renew interest in this fascinating field and will be used as a collector's guide.  Included herein are many rarely seen specimens; for example the fine group of heart scarabs and the large selection of Amenhotep III commemorative pieces.  The color of many pieces, unfortunately, cannot be appreciated.  The exceptional glaze colors, vivid glass, and intense semi-precious tone hues should be viewed in person for full appreciation. 

Careful consideration has been given to the pricing of the scarabs.  The major criteria are quality, condition, rarity and size. 

Dynastic Periods Relating to Scarabs

Middle Kingdom2040 - 1786 BC
11th2040 - 1991 BC
12th 1991 - 1786 BC
Second Intermediate Period1786 - 1570 BC
13th - 14th1786 - 1680 BC
15th - 16th (Hyksos)1720 - 1570 BC
17th 1600 - 1570 BC
New Kingdom1570 - 1085 BC
18th1570 - 1349 BC
19th1342 - 1197 BC
20th1197 - 1085 BC
21st1085 - 950 BC
22nd950 - 730 BC
23rd817? - 730 BC
24th730 - 715 BC
25th (Kushite-Ethiopian)751 - 656 B
Persian Period525 - 332 BC
27th525 - 404 BC
28th404 - 398 BC
29th398 - 378 BC
30th378 - 341 BC
31st 341 - 332 BC
Ptolemaic Period332 - 30 BC
Roman Period30 BC - AD 324

page 4


Heart Scarabs

If inscribed, text is generally from chapter XXXb of the Book of the Dead.

Heart Scarb <a href='view.asp?key=Inscription'><a href='view.asp?key=Inscription'>Inscription</a></a> - Book of the Dead
My heart, my mother; my heart, my mother.
My heart whereby I come into being.
May there be nothing to withstand me at my judgement;
may there be no resistance against me by the Tchatcha;
may there be not parting of thee from me
in the presence of him who keepeth the Scales!
Thou are my ka within my body, which knitteth and
strengtheneth my limbs. Mayest thou come forth in
the place of happiness to which I advance.
May the Shenit, who make men to stand fast,
not cause my name to stink.

(from Budge, E. A Wallis, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, page 309.)

Heart scarabs functioned as a replacement of the heart organ of a mummy, and represented the person or spirit of the deceased individual.  The earliest heart scarabs appeared during the second intermediate period (c. 1700 B.C.) and became relatively more common during the New Kingdom

1.  Faience, glaze light blue/blue, single break across width rejoined, inscribed 5 zones of text, l. 5.9cm., 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep II, ex collection of Lady Meux, sold by Waring and Gillow Ltd., 1911.  $400

2.  Grey durite, uninscribed, finely cut with excellent detail, chip off right front leg, grooved wing cases, l. 6.1 cm, 25th - 30th Dynasty.  $275

3.  Green durite, uninscribed, l. 5.1 cm, slightly chipped, fine cutting with excellent detail.  25th - 30th Dynasty.  $250

4.  Green durite, inscribed 6 zones of text, l. 4.8 cm, cut low to ground, almost perfect condition.  19th - 22nd Dynasty.  $450


5.  Black slate, uninscribed, l. 4.75 cm, good cutting, corded border to grooved wing cases, chipped base.  25th - 30th Dynasty.  $175

6.  Green durite, uninscribed, l. 4.7 cm, good cutting, in perfect condition but less detail.  25th - 30th Dynasty.  $225

7.  Grey/green durite, uninscribed, l. 5.25 cm, good cutting minor chip on front part of base, bold and expressive style.  25th - 30th Dynasty.  $300.


Scarabs Carved Naturalistically: 

Saite period through Ptolemaic times, some having holes for attachment to mummy wrappings.


8.  Faience, pale blue/green glaze on under side, several legs broken as well as chipping on right plate and clypeus, l. 7.3 cm., exceptionally fine modelling, minor flaking, certainly one of the finest faience examples known of this type.  $300

Click here to see ex Malloy scarb #8 offered in Forum Ancient Coins' online calalog (2009), $3500.00

9.  Faience, green glaze, 4 holes, l. 5.7 cm, legless type, fine detail.  $85

page 5 (plates pages 2 & 7)

10.  Blue frit, 5 holes, l. 4.8 cm, opaque, in perfect condition.  $150

11.  Faience, blue glaze, materialistically modelled, chipped, 6 holes, l. 4.4 cm.  $350

Click here to see ex Malloy scarb #11 offered in Forum Ancient Coins' online calalog (2009), $3000.00

12.  Faience, turquoise blue glaze, 4 holes, l. 3.2 cm.  $175


Glass and Semi-Precious Stone Scarabs

Middle Kingdom through Roman Period.  Scarabs from this group are considerably rarer than those made in steatite, faience and other materials.  In particular, those which are large, well cut and with intense color are exceptionally rare

The following summarizes some of the semi-precious stones used and the dynasties attributed (the table below has been modified and expanded from that in the original Malloy catalog (Scarabs and Cylinders with Names, pages 8 - 9).

Amethyst12th, 19th (infrequently)
AmberVery rare
Basalt (black)Rare
BerylNot used
Bronze20th (very rare)
Carnelian12th, 18th - 19th (frequently)
Diorite 11th (very rare), 12th (rare)
Durite* 18th, 19th, 22nd, 26th (frequently used heart scarabs, not suitable for smaller scarabs)
EmeraldNot used
Feldspar (green)11th, 12th, 18th, 26th
Feldspar (red)12th, 19th
Glass18th, 19th, 22nd, Roman
Glass (clear blue)18th
Glass (dark blue)19th
Glass (opaque violet)18th
Gold12th (inscribed gold plates on plain scarabs), 18th (rare)
HaematiteVery rare (Syrian)
Jade19th (large heart scarabs)
Jasper (red)19th
Jasper (yellow)18th, 26th
Jasper (green)11th, 12th, 19th
Jasper (brown)12th, 26th
Jasper (black)11th, 12th, 18th
HaematiteVery rare (Syrian)
Lapis Lazuli 12th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th
Limestone (shelly brown) 10th, 18th
Limestone (various colors)Saite
MalachiteExtremely rare
Obsidian12th (frequent), 19th (rare)
Petrified wood19th (extremely rare)
Pottery (moulded)18th, 19th
Steatite (black)18th - 22nd
Turquoise12th (very rarely for scarabs)
Wood12th (rare)

13.  Glass millefiori, grey black, blue, white, red, l. .95 cm, uninscribed.  $100

14.  Glass, lapis, l. 1.4 cm, uninscribed, excellent quality.  $100

15.  Glass millefiori, white, blue, red, green, l. 1.4 cm, uninscribed.  $350

16.  Glass millefiori, yellow, blue, red, green, l. 1.0 cm, uninscribed.  $125

17.  Amethyst, chipped, l. 1.8 cm, uninscribed.  $50

18.  Amethyst, chipped, l. 1.7 cm, uninscribed.  $30

19.  Amethyst, l. 1.5 cm, uninscribed, deep purple.  $65

20.  Amethyst, l. 1.7 cm, uninscribed, little detail.  $75

21.  Amethyst, l. 1.3 cm. uninscribed, fine carving.  $80

22.  Amethyst, l. 2.2 cm, uninscribed.  $125

23.  Crystal, l. 1.8 cm, uninscribed.  $75

24.  Crystal, l. 3.2cm, uninscribed, shows some wear.  $350

25.  Crystal, chipped, l. 1.9 cm, uninscribed.  $65

26.  Carnelian, veined with white, l. 1.9 cm, uninscribed, minor chipping, feathered legs, shows wear, fine carving, ex. Spenser Churchill Collection, ex. Christie's, December 1965.  $300

27.  Obsidian, l. 2.1 cm, uninscribed, rather crude workmanship, intact.  $50

page 6 (plates pages 7 & 9)

28.  Obsidian, clipped, l. 3.3 cm, uninscribed.  $75

29.  Lapis Lazuli, l. 1.6 cm, uninscribed, good color.  $75

30.  Feldspar, l. 1.25 cm, uninscribed.  $65

31.  Feldspar, blue/green, l. 1.8 cm, uninscribed.  $225

32.  Feldspar, blue/green, l. 2.9 cm, uninscribed.  $450

33.  Feldspar, l. 1.4 cm, uninscribed.  $75

34.  Jadite, dark green, l. 2.5 cm, uninscribed, good cutting, superb color.  $275

35.  Jadite, green, l. 1.8 cm, uninscribed.  $85

36.  Steatite, black, l. 2.1 cm, good carving, grooved wing cases, Saite.  $75

37.  Diorite, l. 1.8 cm, good carving, Saite.  $75

38.  Diorite, l. 1.9 cm, grooved wing cases, good cutting, Saite.  $85

39.  Grey glassy stone, l. 2.54 cm, good carving, grooved wing cases, Saite.  $150

King Name Scarabs:

This class of scarabs is a very small percentage of the total number extant.   Of the nearly 300 different king names which are known, The University College London has some 240 different, the British Museum 150, the Louvre 90, and Cairo 70.  The following is a chart summarizing the distribution of king name scarabs at the time these statistics were presented in 1917. (Scarabs and Cylinders with Names, p. 41)

Although one can expect that the gross numbers have increased significantly by 1974, the distribution has remained fairly close to that presented by Petrie. 

Special attention should be given to the commemorative scarabs of Amenhotep III.  Although scarabs of Amenhotep II, as can be seen from the summary statistics, are relatively common, those classified as commemorative are considered rare.  Within the classification commemorative those with the epithets praising Amenhotep are considerably more common than the extremely rare "lion hunt," marriage," lake," and wild cattle hunt" types.  The latter were issued to commemorate specific events of import during the reign of Amenhotep III.  There are fewer than three hundred Amenhotep III commemorative specimens in all the world's collections today. 

40.  Jasper, green, button seal, l. 1.7 cm, Sat nsu (Sat-hathor, king's daughter), 12th - 13th Dynasty.  $175

41.  Steatite, brown, l. 1.5 cm, mino chip, Usertesen III, 12th Dynasty, rare.  $100

page 8 (plate page 9)

41a.  Steatite, brown, l. 2.6cm, minor chips, Sebekhotep III, 13th Dynasty.

42.  Seatite, brown, l. 1.6 cm, Thothmes III, finely carved, 18th Dynasty.  $65

43.  Steatite, white/brown, chipped, l. 3.3 cm, Thothmes III, with royal cartouche, XVIII Dynasty.  $135

44.  Steatite, white/brown, l. 4.8 cm, fragmentary, large commemorative scarab of Amenhotep II, "lion hunt scarab," to be published by C. Blankenberg in a future issue of JEA, 18th Dynasty.  $750.  
Inscribed as follows:

           The living Horus "Strong Bull Appearing in Truth";  
           He of the Two Goddesses "Establishing Laws, Pacifying
           the Two lands"; Golden Horus "Great of Valour, Smiting the Asiatics";
           King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neb-Ma'at-Re; Son of Re, Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes,
           given life; the Great Royal Consort Tiyi, may she live. Number of lions 
           taken by His Majesty by his own shooting, beginning 
           from year one up till year ten:
           fierce lions 102.

(Blankenberg-Van Delden, The large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenhotep III, pages 17 - 18.)

45.  Steatite, brown, l. 4.85 cm, large commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III, "marriage scarab," 18th Dynasty.  $2500
Inscribed as follows:

           The living Horus "Strong Bull Appearing in Truth";  
           He of the Two Goddesses "Establishing Laws, Pacifying the Two lands";
           Golden Horus "Great of Valour, Smiting the Asiatics"; King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
           Neb-Ma'at-Re; Son of Re, Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes, given life; 
           the Great Royal Consort Tiyi, may she live.  The name of her father is
           Yuia, the name of her mother is Thuia.
           She is the wife of a mighty king
           whose southern boundary is
           to Karoy, whose northern
           to Naharina

(Blankenberg-Van Delden, The large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenhotep III, pages 16.)

46.  Steatite, blue/green glaze, abraded area on back, large commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III, l. 4.45 cm, glaze preserved exceptionally well.  For similar type see Petrie,  Scarabs and cylinders, plate XXXII.  $850

47.  Steatite, light brown, l. 5.1 cm, chipped, large commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III, with royal cartouche, "beloved of Ra...," 18th Dynasty.  $400

48.  Steatite, grey black/brown, l. 4.45 cm, minor flaking, large commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III, with royal cartouche, "appearing in truth," 18th Dynasty.  $350

49.  Steatite, white/brown, l. 3.65 cm, chipped back, commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III, "ruler of...," no. 170 in Budge, 18th Dynasty.  $350

50.  Steatite cowroid, bright blue glaze, l. 2.2 cm, royal name of Amenhotep III, 18th Dynasty.  $100

51.  Faience, dark blue/green glaze, flaking, l. 3.4 cm, Amanhotep II with royal cartouche, 18th Dynasty.  $125

52.  Faience, dark brown/green glaze, l. 3.4 cm, Amenhotep III with royal cartouche, 18th Dynasty.  $125

page 10 (plates pages 9, 11, & 13)

53.  Steatite, traces of green glaze, l. 1.9 cm, Amenhotep III, see no. 527 in Matouk, "apparition des deux beautes," 18th Dynasty.  $275

54.  Faience, blue glaze, l. 2.7 cm, Amarna, small chips, child or man walking, 18th Dynasty, very scarce.  $150

55.  Faience cartouche, bright blue glaze, praenomen Akhenaten, 18th Dynasty.  $450

56.  Steatite, white-blue/green/grey glaze, l. 1.1 cm, Ramases I, 19th Dynasty, very rare.  $125

57.  Faience plaque, pierced longitudinally, blue glaze, l. 2.2 cm, Ramases II, perhaps Queen Tausert, 19th Dynasty, gem condition.  $150

58.  Faience plaque, pierced longitudinally, blue glaze, l. 2.2 cm, Ramases II, perhaps Queen Tausert, 19th Dynasty, gem condition.  $150

Design and Animal Scarabs:

Generally from the Hyksos period (1720 -1570 B.C.).  The scarabs in this group generally depict the decorative art of the second intermediate period.  Frequently, the animals represented are the lion, crocodile, and ibex, in conjunction with scrolls, meander, and rope borders, as well as numerous hieroglyphs.  These scarabs were worn during the owners lifetime and buried with him after death. 

59.  Jasper, green, l. 1.7 cm, Ramases II, 19th Dynasty.  $350

60.  Jasper, yellow/green, l. 1.5 cm, wish type, ex Spenser Churchill Collection, ex Christie's 1965.  $275

61.  Steatite, brown, l. 2.9 cm, four zones of gylphs, 12th - 13th Dynasty.  $150

62.  Steatite, brown, chipped at base, l. 2.4 cm, walking lion over crocodile, see Hayes Scepter, volume II, p. 36; also Rowe Scarabs no. 319 Hyksos.  $55

63.  Steatite, brown, traces of green glaze, l. 2.4 cm, Nefer glyph enclosed by scroll design, Rowe Scarabs no. 125, circa 14th Dynasty.  $80

64.  Steatite cowroid, green glaze, chipped, l. 2.0 cm, clump of Papyrus, circa 15th Dynasty.  $75

65.  Steatite, brown, l. 2.6 cm, Ra-Khepeer, Rowe Scarabs nos. 155, 6, 7, circa 15th Dynasty, large and unusual style of scarab.  $75

66.  Steatite, white, chipped, l. 1.5 cm, ankh, neb, glyphs, nub at bottom, Rowe Scarabs nos. 105, 106, fine carving, circa 14th Dynasty.  $50

67.  Steatite, white, slight chip, l. 2.2 cm, nub, Rowe Scarabs pl. III, fine carving, circa 14th - 15th Dynasty.  $70

68.  Steatite, light brown, traces of green glaze, small chip, l. 1.6 cm, 12 fish signs, Rowe Scarabs no. 236, circa 16th Dynasty.  $40

69.  Steatite, grey/brown, small chip at base, l. 1.6 cm, goat, nefer glyphs, Rowe Scarabs nos. 310 - 312, good carving, Hyksos.  $60

70.  Steatite, green glaze, slight chip, l. 2.9cm, lotus flowers, Hyksos.  $35

71.  Steatite, white/brown, l. 2.1cm, crocodile and goat, Hyksos.  $50

page 12 (plates pages 13 & 16)

72.  Steatite seal, light brown, small chip, l. 1.6 cm, scroll design, Rowe Scarabs 82 - 84, circa 13th Dynasty/Hyksos.  $35

73.  Steatite, tan, traces of blue/green glaze, l. 1.5 cm, Rowe Scarabs plate III, Hyksos

74.  Steatite, tan, traces of blue glaze, l. 1.6 cm, Rowe Scarabs no. 103, perhaps for Ra-neb-Kheper, ankh on either side, excellent quality, circa 14th Dynasty.  $75

75.  Steatite round seal, blue/green glaze, l. 1.7 cm, Newberry no. 36869, lotus flowers symmetrically arranged, circa 17th Dynasty.  $50 

76.  Faience, green/brown, perhaps Heru-em-Heb, l. 2.8 cm, 18th Dynasty.  $125

77.  Steatite, brown, chipped, l. 3 .0 cm, see no. 78, cf. Newberry nos. 36634, 36698, 37057, remains of bitumen, Bess flanked by two monkeys, 19th - 20th Dynasty.  $100 

78.  Steatite, tan, fine, l. 3.3 cm, , see no. 77, cf. Newberry nos. 36634, 36698, 37057, Bess flanked by two monkeys, 19th - 20th Dynasty.  $135

79.  Steatite, brown, l. 3.6 cm, antelope within boarder of concentric circles, Newberry no. 36703, Petrie Plate XLII no. 102, 19th Dynasty.  $145

80.  Steatite, tan, l. 1.6cm, fish, cf. Timons Collection, plate XIV no. 22, and plate XV no. 30 for fish of similar types, also cf. Hayes Scepter, page 185 figure 102, fine carving, 18th - 19th Dynasty or later.  $60

Gold, hollow, moulded in repousse, incised lines on wing cases, extremely fine, detailed modelling, base plate inscribed with cartouche, 21st Dynasty.  $500


Selected Bibliography

Blankenburg, C. and Van Delden, The Large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenhotep III, Leiden, E. J Brill, 1969.

Hall, Harry Reginald, Catalogue of Egyptian Scarabs, etc., in the British Museum, Department of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities, 1913.

page 14 (plate page 16)

Hall, Harry Reginald, Scarabs, London, The British Museum, 1929.

Hayes, W.C., The Scepter of Egypt, Volumes I and II, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1959.

Martin, Geoffrey Thorndike, Egyptian Administrative and Private-Name seals, Principally of the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period, Oxford Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, 1971.

Matouk, Fouad S, Corpus du scarabee egyptien, Tome premier, Beyrouth, Imprimerie Catholique, 1971.

Newberry, Percy E, Scarabs: An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian Seals and Signet Rings. (London, 1906)

Newberry, Percy E, The Timins Collection of Ancient Egyptian Scarabs and Cylinder Seals. (London, 1907)

Petrie, W. M. Flinders, Historical Scarabs Chronologically Arranged: A series of drawings from the principal collections. (London, 1889)

Petrie, W. M. Flinders, Scarabs and cylinders with names: illustrated by the Egyptian collection in University College, London (London, 1917)

Petrie, W. M. Flinders, Buttons and Design Scarabs Illustrated by the Egyptian Collection in University College, London, British School of Archaeology in Egypt, etc., 1925.

Robard, Simon, "The Heart Scarab of the Ancient Egyptians," in American Heart Journal, 1953.*

Rowe, Alan, A Catalogue of Egyptian Scarabs, Scaraboids, Seals and Amulets in the Palestine Archaeological Museum, Imprimerie de l'Institut francais d'Archaeologie orientale, 1936.

Ward, John, The Sacred Beetle, A Popular Treatise on Egyptian Scarabs in Art and History, New York, Scribner's & Sons, 1902.


page 15