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Cattle on Ancient Coins

Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 440 - 430 B.C.

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Metapontum was one of the cities where the doctrines and sect of Pythagoras obtained the firmest footing. Even when the Pythagoreans were expelled from Crotona, they maintained themselves at Metapontum, where the philosopher himself retired, and where he ended his days. The Metapontines paid the greatest respect to his memory; they consecrated the house in which he had lived as a temple to Ceres, and gave to the street in which it was situated the name of the Museum. His tomb was still shown there in the days of Cicero.
GS91978. Silver obol, Noe-Johnston 2, pl. 44, 346.3; SNG Ash 680; SNG Stockholm 192; HN Italy 1500 var. (horns downward); HGC I 1087 (R2) var. (same); SNG ANS -; SNG Cop -, gVF, toned, flow lines, slightly off center, tiny edge splits, weight 0.435 g, maximum diameter 8.4 mm, die axis 0o, Metapontion (Metaponto, Italy) mint, c. 440 - 430 B.C.; obverse ear of barley in border of large dots; reverse ox head facing with horns pointed upward; ex FORVM (2009); very rare; $300.00 (€264.00)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Caesarea Maritima, Samaria

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Caesarea, about 30 miles north of Joppa and about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem, was the capital of the Roman province of Judaea, the seat of the procurators, and the headquarters of the Roman troops. It was founded by Herod the Great and named after Caesar Augustus.
JD93012. Bronze AE 32, Hendin 836, SNG ANS 766, Rosenberger 24, Kadman Caesarea 27, F, green patina, grainy, earthen deposits, weight 18.384 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Caesarea Maritima mint, obverse IMP TRA HADRIANO CAES AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse COL I FL AVG, Hadrian, as priest-founder, plowing right with oxen, Nike flying left above holding wreath, CAESAREN in exergue; from The Jimi Berlin Caesarea Collection (surface find, Caesarea, Israel, 1972); $300.00 (€264.00)
 


Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.

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Kephaloidoion, on Cape Cefalu, was under the influence of nearby Himera until c. 405 B.C. In 396 B.C., the town allied with General Himilco of Carthage against Dionysos of Syracuse but was defeated. Agathocles besieged and conquered the city in 307 B.C. Kephaloidion was again allied with Carthage at the beginning of the First Punic War but the citizens opened the gates when the Roman fleet appeared off the shore in 254 B.C. The city faded but survived at least into the second century A.D.
GI76952. Bronze AE 17, Calciati I, p. 371, 1; HGC 2 649 (R2); SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -; SNG München -; SNG Tüb -, VF, green patina, light marks, reverse off center, weight 4.367 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 135o, Kephaloidion (Cefalu, Sicily) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C. (references vary greatly); obverse KEΦAΛOI∆I, Herakles head right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse bull butting right, club above, linear border; very rare; $280.00 (€246.40)
 


Abakainon, Sicily, 339 - 317 B.C.

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Abakainon was a native Sicel city that adopted Greek culture, but allied with Carthage. In the 5th century B.C., it was powerful and important. In 396, Dionysios I of Syracuse seized part of its territory and founded the city Tyndaris. The Carthaginian general Mago came to their aid but was defeated outside the city walls. Abakainon fell under the hegemony of Syracuse and as Tyndaris grew and prospered, Abakainon diminished to insignificance. It suffered a major earthquake in the 1st century A.D. but survived at least until the 2nd century. Tommaso Fazello (1498 - 1570) described the ruins as indicating a large city which had been destroyed to its foundations. The village of Tripi was founded on the ruins in 1061.
GB86300. Bronze tetras, Calciati I 5; SNG ANS 901; HGC 2 34 (S); SNG Cop -, SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Lloyd -, gVF, well centered, dark green patina, bumps and scratches, tiny spots of slight corrosion, obverse center struck a little flat, weight 2.404 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 225o, Abakainon (Tripi, Sicily) mint, 339 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of a nymph left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, wearing drop earring; reverse ABAKAINI-NΩN, forepart of bull charging left, head turned facing; very rare; $270.00 (€237.60)
 


Phasis, Colchis, c. 425 - 320 B.C.

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Phasis, Colchis (near modern Poti, Georgia) was on the eastern Black Sea coast at the mouth of the river Phasis. It was a Milesian Greek colony founded in the 7th or 6th century B.C., probably a mixed Hellenic–barbarian city in which Greek settlers coexisted peacefully with natives. In mythology, Jason went to Phasis to find the Golden Fleece. Phasis appears in numerous Classical sources. Strabo and Pliny identify it as important on the trade route from India to the Black Sea. Hippocrates calls it an emporion, "a trading place." Phasis came under Roman control during the Third Mithridatic War. In 65 B.C., Pompey met the admiral of his Euxine fleet at Phasis. The name "Phasis" is the origin of the word "pheasant."Kolchis_Map
GB91700. Billon half siglos, SNG Stancomb 633, BMC Black Sea 1014, SNG Cop 98, SNG Delepierre 2469, Hind 7, HGC 7 215 (C), gVF, attractive old cabinet toning, small edge splits, half of obv. and rev. borders off flan, weight 2.115 g, maximum diameter 11.8 mm, die axis 0o, Phasis (near Poti, Georgia) mint, c. 425 - 320 B.C.; obverse archaic female head right; reverse bull head and neck right; scarce; $270.00 (€237.60)
 


Lamponeia, Troas, c. 5th - Early 4th Century B.C.

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Lamponeia was on the southern coast of Troas, on the long crest of a mountain, above the modern village of Kozlu in Canakkale Province, Turkey. From this site, the city could monitor sea traffic on the coast and control a narrow valley which connected Assos to the cities of the middle Skamander valley. The settlement was 800 m long and protected by a 7 m thick circuit wall of rough masonry and boulders, dated to the 6th century B.C. In the 5th century B.C. the city was a member of the Delian League and paid Athens a modest tribute of 1,000 drachms (on one occasion in 430/429 1,400 drachms). In the late 5th and early 4th century B.C. the city minted bronze coinage, but thereafter disappears from the historical record. It is possible that soon after the site was abandoned and its citizens moved to Assos. Late Roman and Byzantine period finds suggest that the site was reoccupied in this period, perhaps as a defensive measure against piracy and brigandage.
GS89698. Silver hemiobol, cf. SNG Cop 444 (obol); SNG Tübingen 2649 (triobol); Traité 2295; BMC Troas p. 72, 12 (hemidrachm); SNG München –; SNG Kayhan -; Klein -, VF, well centered, toned, porous, oval flan, weight 0.270 g, maximum diameter 8.1 mm, die axis 0o, Lamponeia (near Kozlu, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, c. 5th - early 4th century B.C.; obverse bearded head of Dionysos right, hair bound in taenia; reverse facing head of bull, ΛAM around clockwise from lower left, all within a shallow incuse square; ex Beast Coins, this type is apparently unpublished in references as a hemidrachm, but larger denominations with the same types are published, and five hemiobol specimens are known from auctions over the last two decades; extremely rare; $250.00 (€220.00)
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 450 - 400 B.C.

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During religious games, the young men of Thessaly participated in bull jumping and bull wrestling. In bull wrestling, participants would jump from a horse, naked save a chlamys (cloak) and petasos (hat), to bring a bull down to the ground. The obverse shows a wrestler bringing down a bull and the reverse shows the horse running free after the leap was made. The game may have originated in Asia Minor and then traveled to Crete, where it is known the people of Thessaly learned the sport.
GS73425. Silver drachm, Lorber Thessalian 50, SNG Cop 110, BCD Thessaly I 1128, BCD Thessaly II 175, HGC 4 420 (S), F, well centered, die wear, obverse rough, weight 5.760 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 45o, Larissa mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse hero Thessalos restraining bull, both left, holding band around its head, nude but for billowing chlamys tied around his neck, petasos tied around neck flying behind; reverse bridled horse running right, trailing rein, ΛAPI/ΣAIA in two lines above and below, all within shallow incuse square; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "Ex Spink's Auction 36, 30/31 May 84, lot 11 (part), the lot for £130.-"; scarce; $140.00 (€123.20)
 


Caria (Uncertain City), c. 460 - 440 B.C.

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Troxell notes that hoard provinces indicate this type was struck in Caria, however, the issuing city remains unknown. SNG Kayhan identifies the denomination as a Milesian standard tetartemorion. SNG Keckman lists it as a Persic hemiobol.
GS92103. Silver hemiobol, Troxell Carians 11C, SNG Keckman 913 ff.; cf. SNG Kayhan 968 ff. (no star), SNG Tüb 3329 (same), BMC Caria -, F/VF, obverse off center, light marks, light encrustations, weight 0.265 g, maximum diameter 6.9 mm, die axis 0o, Carian mint, c. 460 - 440 B.C.; obverse foreparts of two bulls confronted; reverse forepart of bull left, star below; ex Civitas Galleries; scarce; $120.00 (€105.60)
 


Phokis, Greece, Federal Coinage, c. 440 - 420 B.C.

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Phocis was mainly pastoral. The twenty-two confederate Phocian towns held their periodic synedrion (assembly) in a building called Phokikon, near Daulis, and here, perhaps, rather than at any one of the Phocian towns, the federal mint may have been established. Money would be issued at this mint only on the occasions of the meetings of the synedrion, when it may be supposed that a concourse of people from all parts of the Phocian territory was gathered together, and that a fair or market was held for the exchange and purchase of commodities, as at Delphi during the Pythian festivals. The bull's head likely commemorates the sacrifice of a prize bull for the community on one of these occasions. Part was burned for the god, but eating the meat was a mandatory religious duty.
GS92199. Silver triobol, cf. BCD Locris 257 ff., SNG Cop 99 ff., HGC 4 1043 (R2), F, obverse with dark thick toning, reverse lightly toned, light marks and scratches, minor encrustations, weight 2.727 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 180o, Phokis mint, c. 440 - 420 B.C.; obverse bull head facing; reverse ΦOKI, head of Artemis right, all within incuse square; ex Harlan J. Berk; scarce; $120.00 (€105.60)
 


Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 200 - 100 B.C.

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The torch is a symbol of Demeter. After Hades abducted Demeter's virgin daughter Persephone to be his wife, Demeter searched for her lighting her way through the earth with torches. While she searched, she was preoccupied with loss and grief. The seasons halted; living things ceased their growth, then began to die. Faced with the extinction of all life on earth, Zeus sent his messenger Hermes to the underworld to bring Persephone back. However, because she had eaten while in the underworld, Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that she would spend four months each year in the underworld. During these months Demeter grieves for her daughter's absence, withdrawing her gifts from the world, creating winter. Persephone's return brings the spring.
GB92132. Bronze AE 22, SNG BnF 490 var.; SNG Cop 82 var.; SNG Tübingen 2265 var.; SNGvA 1241 var.; BMC Mysia p. 39, 161 (none with this control monogram), VF, green patina, scattered porosity, edge splits, beveled obverse edge, central depressions, weight 5.767 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, c. 200 - 100 B.C.; obverse bull butting right on exergue line; reverse flaming torch, KYZI/KHNΩN in two flanking downward lines starting on the right, monogram (control) lower right; ex Ancient Imports (Marc Breitsprecher); $115.00 (€101.20)
 




  



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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 Saturday, December 14, 2019.
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