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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Animals| ▸ |Bull or Cow||View Options:  |  |  | 

Cattle on Ancient Coins
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; $640.00 SALE PRICE $576.00
 


Roman Republic, C. Marius C.f. Capito, 81 B.C.

|99-50| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |C.| |Marius| |C.f.| |Capito,| |81| |B.C.||denarius| |serratus|
Plowing with a yoke of oxen usually symbolized colonization. The ceremonial founding of a colony included plowing a furrow, the pomerium, a sacred boundary, around the site of the new city. For this issue, the control numbers are always the same on both sides.
RR98678. Silver denarius serratus, BMCRR I Rome 2884 (hound), Crawford 378/1c (horse), Sydenham 744b, RSC I Maria 9, SRCV I 300, F, toned, porous, scratches, banker's marks, punch on rev., slightly off center, weight 3.427 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 81 B.C.; obverse CAPIT• CXXXV (135, control number), draped bust of Ceres right, wreathed with grain, CXXXV (135, control number) above, running horse or hound (control symbol) below chin; reverse plowman conducting yoke of two oxen left (priest plowing pomerium), CXXXV (135, control number) above, C•MARI•C•F / S•C in two lines in exergue; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

|Syracuse|, |Syracuse,| |Sicily,| |Agathokles,| |317| |-| |289| |B.C.||AE| |17|
With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
GI96864. Bronze AE 17, Calciati II p. 225, 99 R41; cf. BMC Sicily p. 195, 370 (controls); SNG ANS 603 (controls); HGC 2 1489, SNG Cop -, aVF, beautiful style, nice green patina, some corrosion/pitting, earthen deposits, light marks, edge crack, weight 3.403 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 317 - 310 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Kore left, wreathed with grain, wreath (control symbol) behind neck; reverse bull butting left, dolphin above, monogram in wreath (control) in exergue; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00
 


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Parion, Mysia(?)

|Parium|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Parion,| |Mysia(?)||AE| |15|
The attribution of this very rare type to Parium is uncertain. See RPC II p. 137.

The ceremonial founding of a new Roman colony included plowing a furrow, the pomerium, a sacred boundary, around the site of the new city.
RP94451. Bronze AE 15, RPC II Online 889 (12 spec.), SNGvA 6202, F, dark brown patina, light corrosion, tight flan, weight 3.575 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 0o, Parion, Mysia(?) mint, 13 Sep 81 - 18 Sep 96 A.D.; obverse DO-MIT AVG (clockwise from the upper right), laureate head left; reverse priest plowing right with two oxen, marking the pomerium (sacred boundary marked for the foundation of a new Roman colony), GERM in exergue; zero sales of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; very rare; $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., Sardes, Lydia

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |Sardes,| |Lydia||AE| |14|
The Indian humped bull type, along with his well-known anchor symbol, was used only by Nikator. The Indian humped bull on the reverse recalls when Nikator, with only his bare-hands, stopped a similar bull that had broken free while Alexander the Great was sacrificing it at the altar. Seleucus captured Sardes from Lysimachus in 282 B.C. This type has been attributed to Sardes based on find locations.
GY97882. Bronze AE 14, Houghton-Lorber I 6(2)b, Newell WSM 1628, HGC 9 107a (S), SNG Spaer 69 var. (monogram behind bull), SNG Cop 45 var. (same), aVF, green patina, slight porosity, tight flan, weight 2.293 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 270o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, 282 - 281 B.C.; obverse winged head of Medusa right; reverse humped bull butting right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) above, ΣEΛEYKOY in exergue, monogram between hind legs; from a Norwegian collection; scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C., Ancient Counterfeit

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |280| |B.C.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||tetradrachm|
Superb ancient counterfeit with intact plating and of finest style.
SH24647. Fouree silver plated tetradrachm, cf. Houghton-Lorber I 173 (official Susa mint), combining monograms of 173.14 and 173.16, Choice EF, weight 14.724 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 0o, unofficial mint, after 305 B.C.; obverse bust of Alexander or Seleukos wearing helmet covered with panther skin and adorned with horns and ears of bull; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Nike with spread wings, standing right, crowning trophy with wreath, AX and ΠA control-marks across lower field; ex Gorny&Mosch 141, lot 161; SOLD


Gortyna, Crete, 4th Century B.C.

|Crete|, |Gortyna,| |Crete,| |4th| |Century| |B.C.||stater|
Zeus was enamored of Europa and decided to seduce or ravish her. He transformed himself into a tame white bull and mixed in with her father's herds. While Europa and her female attendants were gathering flowers, she saw the bull, caressed his flanks, and eventually got onto his back. Zeus took that opportunity and ran to the sea and swam, with her on his back, to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity, and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Zeus gave her a necklace made by Hephaestus and three additional gifts: Talos, Laelaps and a javelin that never missed. Zeus later re-created the shape of the white bull in the stars, which is now known as the constellation Taurus.
SH51407. Silver stater, SNG Delepierre 2378, Svoronos Crète 64, SNG Cop 442 var. (thinker pose), VF, toned, heavy flan, over-struck on an earlier coin, weight 11.592 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 180o, Gortyna mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse Europa seated right in a tree in a playful pose; reverse bull right, head turned back left; SOLD


Selinous, Sicily, c. 466 - 415 B.C.

|Other| |Sicily|, |Selinous,| |Sicily,| |c.| |466| |-| |415| |B.C.||didrachm|
Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
SL90860. Silver didrachm, SNG ANS 702 - 705 (same obverse die); BMC Sicily, p. 141, 34; SNG Lloyd 1243; SNG Munchen 889 ff.; SNG Cop -, NGC XF, Strike 4/5, Surface 3/5 (4165998-006), weight 7.64 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 90o, Selinus (Selinunte, Sicily) mint, c. 466 - 415 B.C.; obverse ΣEΛINOTION, nude Herakles advancing right, subduing the Cretan bull; reverse HVYAΣ, river-god nude standing left, holding phiale over canopied altar in right hand and branch in left; snake coiled around altar, heron under selinon leaf to right; ex Forum (2007); NGC| Lookup; SOLD


Sumerian (Uruk?), Limestone Cup Ornamented with Animals, Jemdet Nasr Period, 4th Millennium B.C.

|Vessels| |&| |Tableware|, |Sumerian| |(Uruk?),| |Limestone| |Cup| |Ornamented| |with| |Animals,| |Jemdet| |Nasr| |Period,| |4th| |Millennium| |B.C.|
AAA31037. height 7 cm (2 5/8"), rim diameter 6 cm (2 3/8"); The Louvre Near Eastern Antiqities, Ur Excavations Volume 4 The early periods (nearly identical), Collectible condition, two lion's attacking two bulls, high relief, one small piece re-attached, chips from rim; SOLD


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 320 - 300 B.C.

|Italy|, |Neapolis,| |Campania,| |Italy,| |c.| |320| |-| |300| |B.C.||didrachm|
Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
GI95914. Silver didrachm, SNG BnF 687, SNG ANS 380, SNG Cop 439, HN Italy 586, HGC Italy 454 (S), Sambon -, SNG München -, BMC Italy -, gVF, toned, tight flan cutting off ethnic in reserve, flow lines, obverse off center, mild die wear, weight 7.309 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 90o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 320 - 300 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace; reverse man-faced bull walking left, head turned facing, being crowned with wreath by Nike flying left above, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue (off flan); from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

Molinari, N.J. & N. Sisci. Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity. (Oxford, 2016).

Catalog current as of Friday, January 28, 2022.
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