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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."

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
 


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| $1080.00
 


Selinous, Sicily, c. 540 - 415 B.C.

|Other| |Sicily|, |Selinous,| |Sicily,| |c.| |540| |-| |415| |B.C.|, |didrachm|
The leaf/incuse didrachms of Selinus vary in the shape and features of the leaf, and the number of divisions and arrangement of the incuse. We have been unable to find an exact match to this coin.
SH95209. Silver didrachm, Arnold-Biucchi Selinus 6; HGC 2 1211 (R1); SNG ANS 679; SNG Cop 592; SNG Ash 1886; SNG Delepierre 602; Selinous Hoard pl. 2, 25; BMC Sicily p. 138, 7, VF, toned, die wear, etched surfaces, flan crack, weight 8.276 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, c. 540 - 415 B.C.; obverse selinon (wild parsley) leaf, two tiny pellets at base of stem; reverse incuse square divided into twelve triangular alternating deeper and shallower sections; ex Forum (2017), ex David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; rare; $1000.00 SALE |PRICE| $900.00
 


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.
SH95944. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, high relief (as usual for the type), toned, bumps and scratches, weight 16.574 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 290o, 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; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $950.00 SALE |PRICE| $855.00
 


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.
GS95122. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, EF, mint luster, high relief, tight flan, light marks, edge cracks, weight 17.197 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 270o, 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; $850.00 SALE |PRICE| $765.00 ON RESERVE


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.
GS95123. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gVF, toned, high relief, flow lines, tight flan, light bumps and marks, edge splits, weight 17.184 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 0o, 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; $800.00 SALE |PRICE| $720.00
 


Cilicia (Uncertain City, possibly Tarsos), 4th Century B.C.

|Cilicia|, |Cilicia| |(Uncertain| |City,| |possibly| |Tarsos),| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|, |obol|
SNG Levante describes the obverse type as a Pegasos forepart, however, both their coin and ours clearly depict a griffin.
GS92951. Silver obol, SNG Levante 208 corr. (Pegasos vice Griffin in error), SNG BnF -, aVF, toned, light deposits, tight flan, worn dies, edge split, weight 0.680 g, maximum diameter 8.3 mm, die axis 90o, 4th century B.C.; obverse forepart of griffin left; reverse owl standing left, head facing, crescent and olive spray behind; only one sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades - Nomos AG, obolos 5 (26 Jun 2016), lot 437 (similar condition, realized 550 CHF plus 18.5% fees = $660); extremely rare; $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00
 


Lydian Kingdom, Alyattes(?), c. 620 - 553 B.C.

|Lydian| |Kingdom|, |Lydian| |Kingdom,| |Alyattes(?),| |c.| |620| |-| |553| |B.C.|, |hemihekte|NEW
Roma Numismatics listed this as an unpublished type. Perhaps it is not the same type as the referenced Weidauer specimen, however, with the die wear, it is difficult to be certain.
GA96463. Electrum hemihekte, cf. Weidauer, group XVII, 113; Kurth GRPC Lydia -, SNG Kayhan -; Rosen -, aVF, obverse die wear, scratches, edge cracks, weight 1.145 g, maximum diameter 8.0 mm, Sardes(?) mint, c. 620 - 553 B.C.; obverse head of roaring lion left; reverse incuse punch; Roma Numismatics e-sale 68 (27 Feb 2020), lot 399; very rare; $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00
 


Thasos, Thrace, c. 500 - 480 B.C.

|Thasos|, |Thasos,| |Thrace,| |c.| |500| |-| |480| |B.C.|, |stater|
Nymphs are nature spirits who appear as beautiful, young nubile maidens. They dwell in mountains, valleys and groves, by springs and rivers, and also in trees and cool grottoes. Nymphs love to dance and sing and are the frequent target of satyrs. 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.
SH91802. Silver stater, Le Rider Thasiennes 2; SNG Cop 1008; BMC Thrace p. 216, 2; McClean 4195; Svoronos HPM pl. X, 7; Dewing 1312; HGC 6 331, Choice F, very well centered, toned, typical flat strike, scratches, weight 9.155 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, Thasos mint, c. 500 - 480 B.C.; obverse nude ithyphallic satyr kneeling-running right, carrying in his arms a struggling nymph, raising her right hand in protest, both with long strait hair indicated with dots, she wears a long chiton, her arm fingers and thumb forming a Y shape; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $380.00 SALE |PRICE| $342.00
 


Methymna, Lesbos, c. 500 - 460 B.C.

|Lesbos|, |Methymna,| |Lesbos,| |c.| |500| |-| |460| |B.C.|, |hemiobol|
Methymna, the prosperous second city of Lesbos, was, According to myth, named after a daughter of Lesbos, the patron god of the island, and Macar, the island's first king. Methymna had a long-standing rivalry with Mytilene and sided with Athens during the Mytilenaean revolt in 428 B.C. All the other cities of Lesbos sided with Mytilene. After Athenians put down the revolt, only Methymna was spared from being made a cleruchy. After 427, Methymna and Chios were the only members of the Delian League to remain self-governing and exempt from tribute, indicating a privileged position within the Athenian Empire. Methymna was briefly captured by the Spartans in summer 412, but quickly retaken by the Athenians. When the Spartan Kallikratidas besieged Methymna in 406, the city stayed loyal to its Athenian garrison and held out until it was betrayed by several traitors.
GA89032. Silver hemiobol, HGC 6 893 (R2), Franke Methymna -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Kayhan -, Traité -, Klein -, Rosen -, BMC Troas -, Mitchiner ATAC -, VF, well centered, toned, etched surfaces, weight 0.287 g, maximum diameter 6.9 mm, die axis 180o, Methymna mint, c. 500/480 - 460 B.C.; obverse head of Nymph right, hair bound in sakkos; reverse chicken hen standing right, MAΘ above, square dotted frame, all within incuse square; very rare; $270.00 SALE |PRICE| $243.00 ON RESERVE




  



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REFERENCES|

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