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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."

Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, 470 - 440 B.C.

|Italy|, |Metapontion,| |Lucania,| |Italy,| |470| |-| |440| |B.C.||nomos|
Metapontum was an ancient Greek Achaean colony, although various traditions assigned to it a much earlier origin. Strabo and Solinus ascribe its foundation to a body of Pylians, a part of those who had followed Nestor to Troy. Justin, tells us it was founded by Epeius; as proof, the tools which the hero had used to build the Trojan Horse, were kept in a temple of Minerva there.
GS98056. Silver nomos, cf. Rutter HN Italy 1484; Noe-Johnston 240; SNG Cop 252; HGC I 1029 (R1), VF, toned, light earthen deposits, weight 7.041 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Metapontion (Metaponto, Italy) mint, 470 - 440 B.C.; obverse barley ear, META; reverse incuse barley ear; rare; $550.00 SALE PRICE $495.00
 


Sybaris, Lucania, Italy, c. 550 - 510 B.C.

|Italy|, |Sybaris,| |Lucania,| |Italy,| |c.| |550| |-| |510| |B.C.||nomos|
The origin of this unusual design is difficult to pinpoint (Rutter 1997). It served no practical purpose in facilitating the stacking of coins, since even with matching images in relief and negative, irregularities would have hindered this method of storage. It has been suggested that Pythagoras, who lived in all three of the cities that pioneered incuse coins and died in Metapontum itself, introduced the technique in an attempt to realize in concrete form a confrontation of opposites that was characteristic of the Pythagorean system of thought. Despite the poetic appeal of this suggestion, it seems highly unlikely, considering that the incuse technique appears to have been adopted about twenty years before Pythagoras made it to southern Italy.
SH98006. Silver nomos, Dewing 405, SNG ANS 817, HN Italy 1729, HGC I 1231 (S), F, porous, scratches, weight 6.930 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, Sybaris mint, c. 550 - 510 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head turned back right, YM above, dotted border between two circles; reverse incuse of obverse; from the CEB Collection, ex Frank L. Kovacs; scarce; $510.00 SALE PRICE $459.00
 


Roman Republic and Central Italy, Cast Aes Rude, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C., 20 Fragments

|before| |211| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic| |and| |Central| |Italy,| |Cast| |Aes| |Rude,| |c.| |5th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.,| |20| |Fragments||Lot|
In Italy, as with other nations, early trade used a system of barter. Aes rude (Latin: "rough bronze"), used perhaps as early as the early 8th century B.C., was the earliest metal proto-currency in central Italy. In the 5th century B.C., bronze replaced cattle as the primary measure of value in trade. Aes rude are rough lumpy bronze ingots with no marks or design, some are flat and oblong, others are square, while many are irregular and shapeless. The metal is mostly copper with roughly 5% tin. Weight varies considerably with some exceeding twelve pounds and others under an ounce. Many smaller examples are fragments of broken larger specimens. A balance was necessary to measure value for commercial transactions.
LT96143. Bronze Lot, Lot of 20 aes rude fragments, cf. BMCRR I p. 1, Haeberlin pl. 1, Vecchi ICC pl. 1, Thurlow-Vecchi pl. 2, SRCV I 505, 13.908g - 65.836g, no tags or flips, actual pieces in the photograph, as-is, no returns; $400.00 SALE PRICE $360.00
 


Phaselis, Lycia, c. 550 - 580 B.C.

|Lycia|, |Phaselis,| |Lycia,| |c.| |550| |-| |580| |B.C.||stater|
Phaselis was founded in 690 BC by settlers from the island of Rhodes. Later that same year, the great Rhodian seafarers also founded Gela, on the island of Sicily, thus extending their influence across the Greek world. The colony of Phaselis was the one purely Greek city in Lycia and differed in language, culture, and alphabet from the adjacent cities of the region. It should be noted that the coinage of Phaselis is among the earliest, if not the earliest, of all silver coinage struck in Asia Minor. Struck c. 530 B.C., this coin is roughly contemporary with the silver issues of King Kroisos of Lydia and represents the dawn of this medium of exchange in Asia Minor.
GA99010. Silver stater, cf. Heipp-Tamer series 3, emission 1b, 35; SNGvA 4392; Weber III -; SNG Cop -; SNG Delepierre -; BMC Lycia -, gF, tight thick flan, toned, marks, some porosity, test cut on rev., small edge crack, weight 11.054 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, Phaselis (near Tekirova, Turkey) mint, c. 550 - 480 B.C.; obverse prow of galley left in the form of an abstract boar's head, with foreleg and large apotropaic eye, three round shields on gunwale; reverse incuse square punch with irregular subdivisions; $280.00 SALE PRICE $252.00
 


Akragas, Sicily, c. 450 - 440 B.C.

|Akragas|, |Akragas,| |Sicily,| |c.| |450| |-| |440| |B.C.||tetras|
Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Akragas was founded c. 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela. It grew rapidly, becoming second only to Syracuse in importance on Sicily but was sacked by Carthage in 406 B.C. and never fully recovered. It was renamed Agrigentum after it fell to Rome in 210 B.C.
GI98095. Cast bronze tetras, Westermark 1979 2; Westermark Akragas 526; Calciati I p. 145, 6; SNG ANS 1018; HGC 2 127 (R1), aF, dark green patina, 9.004g, 16.9mm long, weight 9.004 g, maximum diameter 17.25 mm, die axis 0o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 450 - 440 B.C.; cast somewhat tooth-shaped flattened cone form, three pellets (mark of value) arranged in a triangle on flat top, heads and necks of two eagles back-to-back facing outwards on one side, crab opposite; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Iberian Celts, Lot of 5 Hacksilver Fragments, c. 300 - 150 B.C.

|Hacksilver|, |Iberian| |Celts,| |Lot| |of| |5| |Hacksilver| |Fragments,| |c.| |300| |-| |150| |B.C.||Lot|
Hacksilver or hacksilber, are fragments of cut and bent silver items treated as bullion, either for ease of carrying before melting down for re-use, or simply used as currency by weight. It was common in trade until the first century B.C. and again in the middle ages with the Vikings.
CE99421. Hacksilver Lot, cf. Garcia-Bellido 393, Kim and Kroll 66; Van Alfen Hacksilber 85, $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


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|
A number of markings in the reverse dies of sigloi of this same Carradice type and group are known. All are rare. This reverse die is published in the "The Dinar Hoard of Persian Sigloi" in Studies Price. Carradice does not recognize the leaf in his description.
GA99132. Silver siglos, Carradice Type| IV (middle) B; Carradice Price 264 (same dies), F, toned, uneven strike, scratches, punches on rev., weight 5.296 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) or subsidiary mint, c. 420 - 375 B.C.; obverse bearded Great King kneeling right, dagger drawn back in right, bow in left; reverse oblong incuse punch, leaf inside incuse; extremely rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Ionia, c. 525 - 500 B.C.

|Other| |Ionia|, |Ionia,| |c.| |525| |-| |500| |B.C.||tetartemorion|
This extremely tiny coin is from the time before copper coins were invented to make small change.
GA98628. Silver tetartemorion, cf. SNG Kayhan 743 (obol), Rosen 109 (Skione, obol), SNG Arikantürk 664 (Neandria in Troas?, hemiobol), aEF, dark toning, lightly etched surfaces, weight 0.111 g, maximum diameter 4.8 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Ionian mint, c. 525 - 500 B.C.; obverse helmet left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Lucera, Apulia, Italy, c. 225 - 217 B.C.

|Italy|, |Lucera,| |Apulia,| |Italy,| |c.| |225| |-| |217| |B.C.||uncia|
In 321 B.C., the Romans, deceived into thinking Lucera was under siege by the Samnites, walked into an ambush and were defeated. The town threw out the Samnites, sought Roman protection, and in 320 B.C. was granted the status of Colonia Togata, which meant it was ruled by the Roman Senate. To strengthen ties, 2,500 Romans moved to Lucera. Roman culture merged with the native one slowly, probably accompanied by cross-cultural marriages, but Lucera was a steadfast supporter of Rome. By the 2nd century B.C., the rustic town was transformed into a proper Roman city with houses, public buildings, paved roads, sidewalks and services for travelers, accommodation for livestock with running water, and warehouses for storing goods.
RR98638. Cast bronze uncia, Vecchi ICC 342; Haeberlin p. 184 - 185, 1 - 56 pls. 71, 3 - 6 and 95, 7; HN Italy 674, VF, edge flaw, weight 10.445 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, Lucera mint, c. 225 - 217 B.C.; obverse frog seen from above; reverse grain ear on stalk, pellet left, L right; ex Roma e-sale 84 (16 Jun 2021), lot 49; ex private European collection; very rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00 ON RESERVE


Iberian Celts, Hacksilver, c. 300 - 150 B.C.

|Hacksilver|, |Iberian| |Celts,| |Hacksilver,| |c.| |300| |-| |150| |B.C.||fragment|
Hacksilver or hacksilber, is ancient silver disks, bars, rods, foil, and broken and cut fragments of those forms and also of coins, jewelry or other silver items used as a medium of exchange by weight. It was common in trade beginning at the end of the Iron Age, c. 1200 B.C. in the Levant, and lasted until the first century B.C., were it was used by the Celts and other tribal people in Hispania and Gaul. It was used again in the Middle Ages by the Vikings.
CE99420. Hacksilver fragment, cf. Garcia-Bellido 393, Kim and Kroll 66, Van Alfen Hacksilber 85; cut fragment of a disk ingot, 9.655g, 21.9mm maximum length, $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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