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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Anatolia| ▸ |Ionia| ▸ |Archaic Electrum||View 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."

Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Striated Type

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Ionia,| |c.| |650| |-| |600| |B.C.,| |Striated| |Type||hekte|
Mankind's first coin type with an obverse and reverse! Rare and important. 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 this type, were struck from electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver found as nuggets in the rivers and streams of Lydia and Ionia. This striated type is the first type to have an obverse design in addition to the reverse punch. Because of its simple obverse design, it is described by some authorities as the first true coin.
SH82694. Electrum hekte, Milesian standard; Weidauer 6, Traité I 12, SNGvA 1769, SNG Kayhan 680, Karwiese Artemision I.6, SNG Fitzwilliam -, Rosen -, Zhuyuetang -, VF, weight 2.365 g, maximum diameter 8.7 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened striated surface; reverse two rough approximately square incuse punches; ex Harlan J. Berk; rare and important; SOLD


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

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Phokaia,| |Ionia,| |c.| |625| |-| |522| |B.C.||hekte|
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; SOLD


Ionia, c. 600 - 550 B.C.

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Ionia,| |c.| |600| |-| |550| |B.C.||1/24| |stater|
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 have more wear (die wear?) than our coin, but do appear to be from the same obverse die.
SH75300. 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), EF, perhaps the finest known of a very rare and important type, weight 0.597 g, maximum diameter 6.7 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 600 - 550 B.C.; obverse bridled head and neck of Pegasos left, with top edge of wing visible; reverse raised cross pattern within incuse square punch; ex Tkalec AG auction Feb 2013, lot 88, realized 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,151) plus fees; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 199 (10 Oct 2011), realized 2,000 EUR ($2,699) plus fees; very rare; SOLD


Ionia, c. 650 - 600 B.C., Striated Type

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Ionia,| |c.| |650| |-| |600| |B.C.,| |Striated| |Type||hemihekte|
Mankind's first coin type with an obverse and reverse! Rare and important. 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 this type, were struck from electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver found as nuggets in the rivers and streams of Lydia and Ionia. This striated type is the first type to have an obverse design in addition to the reverse punch. Because of its simple obverse design, it is described by some authorities as the first true coin.
SH84473. Electrum hemihekte, 1/12 stater, Lydo-Milesian standard; Weidauer 9, Traité I 13, SNGvA 7766, SNG Kayhan 681; Rosen 268; Elektron II 13, Karwiese Artemision Type I.6, EF, some wear to reverse punch, weight 1.078 g, maximum diameter 6.6 mm, Ionia, uncertain mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse flattened striated surface; reverse square incuse punch; rare and important; SOLD


Lydian Kingdom, Uncertain King Before Kroisos, c. 625 - 546 B.C.

|Lydian| |Kingdom|, |Lydian| |Kingdom,| |Uncertain| |King| |Before| |Kroisos,| |c.| |625| |-| |546| |B.C.||trite|
The knob on the lion's snout is also described as a "wart," and as the radiant Sun.
SH85432. Electrum trite, Weidauer Series XVI 86, SNGvA 2869, SNG Kayhan 1013, Rosen 655, Boston MFA 1763, VF, bumps and marks, earthen deposits, weight 4.709 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 625 - 546 B.C; obverse Head of roaring lion right, with knob rays atop snout; reverse two incuse squares; SOLD


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

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Western| |Anatolia,| |c.| |620| |-| |600| |B.C.,| |Plain| |Globular| |Type||hekte|
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; SOLD


Lydian Kingdom, Alyattes - Kroisos, c. 620 - 539 B.C.

|Lydian| |Kingdom|, |Lydian| |Kingdom,| |Alyattes| |-| |Kroisos,| |c.| |620| |-| |539| |B.C.||trite|
The knob on the lion's snout is also described as a "wart," and as the radiant Sun.
SH91787. Electrum trite, Weidauer group XVI, 86; SNGvA 2868; SNG Cop 449; SNG Lockett 2977; SNG Ash 749; Rosen 655; Boston MFA 1764; BMC Lydia 2, 7, pl. I, 6, aVF, banker's marks, weight 4.665 g, maximum diameter 12.5 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 620/610-550/539 B.C.; obverse head of roaring lion right, with knob and rays atop snout; reverse irregular divided rectangular incuse; SOLD


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

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Ionia,| |c.| |650| |-| |600| |B.C.,| |Plain| |Globular| |Type||hekte|
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 simple square punches mark on one side (one punch on smaller denominations). Nine similar plain electrum pieces were within the famous "Artemision Find" at Ephesus in 1904, but all were smaller denominations, from 1/8 stater to a 1/96 stater.
SH84754. Electrum hekte, 1/6 stater, SNG Kayhan 674, Weidauer 4, Boston MFA 1750, Rosen -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, Traité -, BMC Ionia -, VF, scratches and marks, reverse incuses struck with worn punches, weight 2.347 g, maximum diameter 9.3 mm, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 650 - 600 B.C.; obverse plain globular surface; reverse two roughly square incuse punches; very rare; SOLD


Lydian Kingdom, Uncertain King Before Kroisos, c. 625 - 546 B.C.

|Lydian| |Kingdom|, |Lydian| |Kingdom,| |Uncertain| |King| |Before| |Kroisos,| |c.| |625| |-| |546| |B.C.||trite|
According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coins and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. It is not known, however, whether Herodotus meant that the Lydians were the first to use coins of pure gold and pure silver or the first precious metal coins in general. Despite this ambiguity, this statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence most often cited on behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, even though the first coins were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two called electrum.
SH85433. Electrum trite, Weidauer Series XVI 86, SNGvA 2869, SNG Kayhan 1013, Rosen 655, Boston MFA 1763, VF, banker's mark, some light scratches, weight 4.683 g, maximum diameter 12.5 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 625 - 546 B.C; obverse Head of roaring lion right, with knob and rays atop snout; reverse two incuse squares; SOLD


Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

|Archaic| |Electrum|, |Phokaia,| |Ionia,| |c.| |521| |-| |478| |B.C.||hekte|
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, 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; SOLD




  




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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.
Konuk, K. & C. Lorber. White Gold: Revealing the World's Earliest Coins. (Jerusalem, 2012).
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).

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