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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Archaic Origins||View Options:  |  |  |   

Archaic Origins - The First Coins of Mankind

The coins below are among the first struck by mankind. Coins struck in the later classical and Hellenistic periods, but in archaic or archaized style are also included here. Click here to read "From the Origin of Coins to Croesus."

Olbia, Sarmatia, c. 5th Century B.C.

|Olbia|, |Olbia,| |Sarmatia,| |c.| |5th| |Century| |B.C.|, |cast| |dolphin|
Small cast dolphins were cast in Olbia, beginning c. 550 - 525 B.C., first as sacrificial objects for worship of Apollo and later as a form of currency. The Hellenic city of Olbia was founded in the 7th century BC by colonists from Miletus. Its harbor was one of the main ports on the Black Sea for the export of cereals, fish, and slaves to Greece, and for the import of Attic goods to Scythia.
GA95354. Bronze cast dolphin, SNG BM 373, SNG Pushkin 27, SNG Cop 69, SNG Stancomb 339, gVF, light earthen deposits, weight 1.894 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 0o, Olbia (Parutino, Ukraine) mint, c. 5th Century B.C.; obverse dolphin with raised eye and dorsal fin; reverse ΘY; $110.00 SALE |PRICE| $99.00 ON RESERVE


Olbia, Sarmatia, c. 5th Century B.C., Lot of 2 Cast Dolphins

|Olbia|, |Olbia,| |Sarmatia,| |c.| |5th| |Century| |B.C.,| |Lot| |of| |2| |Cast| |Dolphins|, |cast| |dolphin|
 
MA95795. Bronze cast dolphin, cf. SGCV I 1684, SNG BM 360 ff., SNG Stancomb 334 ff., SNG Pushkin 12 ff., SNG Cop 67 ff., 24.9mm & 31.9mm long, VF, Olbia (Parutino, Ukraine) mint, obverse dolphin with raised eye, dorsal fin and tail; $65.00 (€59.80)


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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm|, |tetradrachm|
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.
SH96069. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, EF, attractively centered, flow lines, bumps marks, die wear, edge splits, weight 17.192 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 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 owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1500.00 SALE |PRICE| $1350.00
 


Roman Republic, Anonymous, c. 280 - 276 B.C., Heavy Series

|before| |150| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Anonymous,| |c.| |280| |-| |276| |B.C.,| |Heavy| |Series|, |triens|
All the references only describe the pellets as below the dolphin. None of the references include a variation with pellets above, but Crawford and HN Italy note the dolphin is sometimes left, which may actually be describing pellets above. There are a few examples with the pellets above on Coin Archives.
RR93746. Aes grave triens, cf. Crawford 14/3; HN Italy 270; Haeberlin pp. 95- 97, pl. 39, 6 ff.; Thurlow-Vecchi 3; Sydenham 10; Vecchi ICC 27 (all with pellets below), VF, dark green patina, earthen deposits, casting flaw, weight 96.948 g, maximum diameter 53.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 280 - 276 B.C.; obverse dolphin swimming right •••• (mark of value) above; reverse fulmen (thunderbolt) •••• (mark of value) perpendicular to the fulmen in center; from the Errett Bishop Collection, very rare with the pellets above the dolphin, huge AE53!; $1500.00 SALE |PRICE| $1350.00
 


Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Xerxes I - Darius II, c. 485 - 420 B.C.

|Sardes|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Lydia,| |Anatolia,| |Xerxes| |I| |-| |Darius| |II,| |c.| |485| |-| |420| |B.C.|, |siglos|
After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were taken into the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. When ancient Persia took control of Babylon, Haman, the royal vizier, convinced King Ahasuerus to destroy all the Jews. Esther, Ahasuerus' queen and, unknown to him, a Jew, interceded on behalf of her people. By law the King could not rescind the order to slaughter the Jews, so he issued a second decree that permitted the Jews to defend themselves with armed force. The King replaced Haman with Mordecai, a palace official, cousin and foster parent of Esther. The Jews defeated Haman, killing his ten sons that were leading the attacks, and then hanged Haman. The day after the battle was designated as a day of feasting and rejoicing. Scholars identify King Ahasuerus as the historical king Xerxes I, 485 - 465 B.C. Xerxes is the Greek version of his name but the Babylonians knew him as Khshayarsha. The Hebrew name Ahasuerus, appears to be derived from Khshayarsha, with the letter A added at the beginning.
GA88198. Silver siglos, Carradice type IIIb (early), pl. XII, 16 ff.; Rosen 673; SGCV II 4682; Carradice NC 1998 pl. 7, 155 ff.; Carradice Price p. 67 and pl. 17, 1 ff., F, toned, scratches, porosity, weight 5.065 g, maximum diameter 15.1 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 485 - 420 B.C.; obverse Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, transverse spear downward in right hand, bow in extended left hand, bearded, crowned; reverse irregular oblong punch; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00
 


Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Darius II - Artaxerxes II, c. 420 - 375 B.C.

|Persian| |Lydia|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Lydia,| |Anatolia,| |Darius| |II| |-| |Artaxerxes| |II,| |c.| |420| |-| |375| |B.C.|, |siglos|
This type was minted in Lydia, Anatolia, while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest. The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire

GA88199. Silver siglos, Carradice Type| IV (middle) B; Carradice Price p. 73 and pl. 19, 223; BMC Arabia p. 171, 172 ff., pl. XXVII, 7 ff.; Rosen 678; SGCV II 4683, aF, toned, porous, banker's marks, weight 5.217 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 375 B.C.; obverse Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, bearded, crowned, dagger in right hand, bow in left hand; reverse irregular oblong punch; $65.00 SALE |PRICE| $58.00
 


Kelenderis, Cilicia, c. 5th Century B.C.

|Archaic| |Origins|, |Kelenderis,| |Cilicia,| |c.| |5th| |Century| |B.C.|, |obol|
The Gorgoneion was originally a horror-creating apotropaic pendant showing the Gorgon's facing head. It was worn by the Olympian deities Zeus and Athena as a protective pendant. It was also worn, among other godlike attributes, as a royal aegis by rulers of the Hellenistic age and later on the busts of Roman Emperors. In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying visage that turned those who beheld it to stone. Traditionally, while two of the Gorgons were immortal, Stheno and Euryale, their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by the mythical demigod and hero Perseus. Gorgons were a popular image of Greek mythology, appearing in the earliest of written records of Ancient Greek religious beliefs such as those of Homer. Because of their legendary gaze, images of the Gorgons were put upon objects and buildings for protection. For example, an image of a Gorgon holds the primary location at the pediment of the temple at Corfu. It is the oldest stone pediment in Greece and is dated to c. 600 B.C.
SL95877. Silver obol, SNG BnF Cilicia 465 (uncertain mint), Weber 7521 (Forrer notes, "Sir H. Weber notes against this coin: 'Dr. Imhoof says, indubitably Kelenderis'." , NGC Choice VF, strike 3/5, surface 4/5 (5872605-020), in NGC plastic holder, weight 0.70 g, Kelenderis (Aydincik, Turkey) mint, c. 5th century B.C.; obverse facing gorgon head; reverse forepart of horse right, incuse square; NGC| Lookup; $250.00 SALE |PRICE| $225.00
 


Kyme, Aiolis, c. 480 - 450 B.C.

|Aeolis|, |Kyme,| |Aiolis,| |c.| |480| |-| |450| |B.C.|, |hemiobol|
Cyme, one of the oldest Aeolian cities, was probably a colony of Cyme in Euboea, though according to tradition it was founded by the Amazon Kyme. Its large capable port was a valuable maritime asset to the Persian Empire, contributing ships to Dareios in 512 B.C. and to Xerxes in 480 B.C. After the Battle of Salamis, the remnants of Xerxes' fleet wintered at Cyme. After Persia, Aeolis was held successively by the Macedonians, Seleucids, Pergamenes, Romans, Byzantine, and Ottomans.
GS94116. Silver hemiobol, cf. SNG Kayhan 84; SNG Cop 31; SNGvA 1623; BMC Troas p. 105, 10 ff.; Klein 333; Rosen 538, aVF, etched surfaces, scratches, weight 0.280 g, maximum diameter 7.0 mm, Kyme (near Nemrut Limani, Turkey) mint, c. 480 - 450 B.C.; obverse eagle head left, KY or no ethnic; reverse irregular square incuse; $90.00 SALE |PRICE| $81.00
 


Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Darius II - Artaxerxes II, c. 420 - 375 B.C.

|Persian| |Lydia|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Lydia,| |Anatolia,| |Darius| |II| |-| |Artaxerxes| |II,| |c.| |420| |-| |375| |B.C.|, |1/4| |siglos|
This type was minted in Lydia, Anatolia, while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest. The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire
GS94117. Silver 1/4 siglos, Carradice type IV; BMC Arabia p. 167, 143, pl. XXVI, 27; Rosen 679, F, toned, porous, round flan, weight 1.176 g, maximum diameter 8.5 mm, probably Sardis (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 375 B.C.; obverse kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, drawing bow, bearded, crowned, quiver at shoulder; reverse square incuse; very rare; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00
 


Thasos, Thrace, c. 525 - 480 B.C.

|Thasos|, |Thasos,| |Thrace,| |c.| |525| |-| |480| |B.C.|, |diobol|
Satyrs are male companions of Pan and Dionysus with goat-like features, including a goat-tail, goat-like ears, and sometimes a goat-like phallus. As Dionysiac creatures, Satyrs are lovers of wine and women and ready for every physical pleasure. They are obsessed with nymphs.
GA95322. Silver diobol, Svoronos HPM p. 96, 8 & pl. X, 20; Le Rider Thasiennes 4; HGC 6 333; Rosen 144; SNG Cop 191 ff. (Lete); BMC Macedonia p. 80, 29 ff. (same), F, lightly toned, some porosity, weight 0.79 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, Thasos mint, c. 525/510 - 480 B.C.; obverse nude satyr rushing to right in the archaic kneeling-running position, long hair, pointed beard, horse tail; reverse quadripartite incuse square; ex CNG e-auction 392 (1 Mar 2017), lot 97; ex W. H. Guertin Collection; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00
 




  






REFERENCES|

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