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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
 


Roman Republic and Central Italy, Cast Aes Rude, c. 5th - 4th Century B.C., 8 Fragments

|before| |211| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic| |and| |Central| |Italy,| |Cast| |Aes| |Rude,| |c.| |5th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.,| |8| |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.
LT96230. Bronze Lot, Lot of 8 aes rude fragments, cf. BMCRR I p. 1, Haeberlin pl. 1, Vecchi ICC pl. 1, Thurlow-Vecchi pl. 2, SRCV I 505, weight 28.533g - 62.227g, no tags or flips, actual pieces in the photograph, as-is, no returns; $225.00 SALE PRICE $203.00
 


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
 


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

|Hacksilver|, |Iberian| |Celts,| |Hacksilver,| |c.| |300| |-| |150| |B.C.||fragment|
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.
CE96111. Hacksilver fragment, cf. Kim and Kroll 59, Van Alfen Hacksilber 53 ff.; 20.883g, 21.1mm long; perhaps cut from a disk ingot, $170.00 SALE PRICE $153.00
 


Lot of 8 Bronze Cast Dolphins, Olbia, Sarmatia, c. 5th Century B.C.

|Olbia|, |Lot| |of| |8| |Bronze| |Cast| |Dolphins,| |Olbia,| |Sarmatia,| |c.| |5th| |Century| |B.C.||cast| |dolphin|
Small bronze dolphins were cast in Olbia, Thrace, beginning around 550 - 525 B.C., at first as sacrificial objects for the worship of Apollo. Soon after their introduction it seems they were used as an early form of proto-money. Later, when proper coins came into the area, we find the cast bronze dolphins in hoards mixed along with coins, strong evidence that they were still being used as money.
GB99091. Bronze cast dolphin, cf. SGCV I 1684, SNG BM 360 ff., SNG Stancomb 334 ff., SNG Pushkin 12 ff., SNG Cop 67 ff., Olbia (Parutino, Ukraine) mint, c. 5th century B.C.; obverse dolphin with raised eye and dorsal fin; the actual dolphin money specimens in the photograph, no tags or flips, 8 dolphin money specimens; $170.00 SALE PRICE $153.00
 


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
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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