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ARCHAIC GREEK COINS? THE INVENTION OF COINAGE. The greatest invention of Western History is undoubtedly Alphbetic writing, without which there would not be western history. It was invented by the Phoencians in about 1000 BCE. By the late eighth century this writing had spread through the entire fertile crescent, up into the Black Sea Region and down into Greece. Alphabetic writing enabled private citizens to record, account for, and contractualize transactions; and private Phoenician traders dominated the Mediterranean. Previously all transactions had to be recorded by State sanctioned Scribes and all trade was controlled by the Royal Houses.

Coinage was invented in the seventh century BCE in the Black Sea region northeast of Greece, where the alluvial flow of gold and silver mixed together yeilded the metal known as electrum. Gold and Silver had been used by the earliest Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations as a store of wealth, and a medium of trade. But this naturally occuring electrum was first coined by the kings of Lydia, Miletos, Ephesos, Phokia, Lesbos and Kyzykos.

The innovation of coinage enabled the Private Citizen to amass, store and preserve wealth in the form of money. This led to a boom in trade and the creation of the first merchant class independent from the Royal/Priest class that had previously enjoyed firm control over both trade and the storage of wealth. Herodotus famously referred to the Lydians as a nation of shopkeepers.

The largest unit of trade was the "Stater" which was a translation of the semitic "Shekel," a unit of weight used in the semitic East. Weights varied from between 14 and 16 grams according to local standards. These staters were broken down into trites (thirds) hektes (sixths) and various smaller units.

In the 7th Century BCE, the Black Sea Region was dominated by the Lydian Empire. The Kings of Lydia, (most probably Ardys or Allyates) eventually made use of alphabetic writing in combination with the image of the Lion, symbol of the Royal House, to invent the first inscribed coinage.

The Lydian lion Trite (third stater) is undoubtedly the first general issue coin that was widely used in trade. Early issues bear inscriptions that are most often described as bearing the word "Walwel" in the Lydian script. However, there is no evidence that there was a Lydian script at this period. I believe it far more likely that some form of the Phoenecian script which becomes the Paleo Judaean script (familiar to the region through stamps and inscriptions used in the trade of wine and olive oil among other products), was used and that the inscription most probably reflected the current ruler's name. Later issues used the image of the lion without inscription.

KROISOS AND THE INVENTION OF BIMETALLIC COINAGE: The Lion and the Bull.

Kroisos of Lydia was the first King to mint pure gold coinage. He started with the heavy standard of about 10.6 grams an ounce for staters, which was soon changed to the light standard of about 8.5 grams a stater. After Lydia was conquered by Darius of Persia, the Persians continued to mint lion/bull staters for a time, changing to a more "Persian style" of depiction.

Kroisos selected the image of the fierce lion and the submissive bull. The lion was the symbol of the Royal House. The Bull was the symbol of Siva/Dionysiac fertility religion that dominated the area before the wave of sky-God worshipping Aryan invaders from the northeast..

Sivaism dates back to at least 3500 BCE, originating in persent day India and spreading throughout the Black Sea area to Northern Greece and Macedonia and down into Crete as the Dionysiac Religion. Dio means God and Nysus is the birth place of Siva. So dionysus is literaly the God of Nysa or Siva.

This was regarded as a wild. untameable and wine-soaked religion, by the Hordes of Aryans that swept down into the region from the Russian Steppes in waves beginning in about 1800 BCE,. Dionysus was added to the sky-god pantheon ruled by Zeus, but was regarded as a sort ot nuisance God that needed to be controlled.

Hence the badge adopted on the first coinage shows the dominance of the conquering Sky God people over the indigenous bull worshippers. The Athenian story of Theseus slaying the bull-god Minotaur in Crete depicts exactly the same dynamic.

The Dawn of Coinage:

KINGS OF LYDIA. ARDYS Circa 650-620 BCE.

EL Trite 1/3 stater (4.77g) Sardes mint. Head of roaring lion right, perhaps: YRDYS in Phoenician lettering / Double square incuse punch. Weidauer 91-2. SNG Von Auluck 8204.

Very Sharp lion with clear well struck letters and clean surfaces. An altogether superior example of this rare issue, perhaps the first issue with writing and as such of the highest historical significance.

NGC graded AU, Str 5/5 surf 5/5
$28,000

IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 650-600 BC.

Electrum Trite (4.68 g),  Lydo-Milesian standard. Geometric figure composed of a cross centered upon a polygon of eight sides. Reverse: Rectangular incuse divided horizontally and vertically into several compartments, some containing pellets. McFadden 1; Weidauer -; Elektron I 16; SNG Kayhan 697.

Very Rare - known from a single horde in 2016 of about 20 trites of varying quality and two staters, as well as several fractions. Clear and well centered

NGC graded XF Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5. ...................................$15,000

KINGS of LYDIA. Kroisos. Circa 564/53-550/39 BC.

AV Stater ( 8.07 g). Light standard. Sardes mint. Confronted foreparts of lion and bull / Two incuse squares. Berk 3; Le Rider, Naissance, pl. V, 8; Traité I 401–3; SNG von Aulock 2875; BMC 31; Boston MFA 2073; Gulbenkian 757.

ex superior auctions 1990 lot 2087 (illustrated on the cover)

a virtually perfect and well pedigreed specimen of the world's first gold coin. Deeply struck, fully lusterous and perfectly centered, and my own personal preference as the finest die in the small series. Certainly amongst the finest extant

NGC Graded GEM MS stk 5/5 surf 5/5

POR

KINGS of LYDIA. Kroisos. Circa 564/53-550/39 BC.

AR stater or double siglos (20mm, 10.76 gm). Sardes. Confronted foreparts of lion right and bull left, both with outstretched foreleg / Two square punches of different size, side by side, with irregular interior surfaces. SNG Kayhan 1018. BMFA 2070. Berk, 100 Greatest Ancient Coins, 9.19

Deeply struck perfectly centered on flawless, glass-like surfaces, only made possible through 2500 years of most fortuitous toning. Exceptional.

NGC XF ★ strk 5/5 - surf 5/5
$22,000

KINGS OF LYDIA. Kroisos, circa 560-546 BC.

AV third-stater or trite (2.68 gm). Sardes, "light" standard, ca. 553-539 BC. Confronted foreparts of lion right and bull left, both with outstretched foreleg / Two incuse square punches of unequal size, side by side, with irregular interior surfaces. Berk 9.6. SNG von Aulock 8212.

Whereas the gold staters have been discovered in small hordes, most probably remnants of governmental storage, the the gold fractions have been discovered one at a time or in very small groupings, as they were more likely used in every day commerce.

Excellent strike and centering on satiny surfaces. A ver rare coin in mint state - only twenty trites, both heavy and light standard combined, have been graded.

NGC MS 5/5 - 4/5..............$25,000

 

KINGS OF LYDIA. Kroisos, circa 560-546 BC. 

AV third-stater or trite (2.67 gm). Sardes, 'light' standard, ca. 553-539 BC. Confronted foreparts of lion right and bull left, both with outstretched foreleg / Rectangular bipartite incuse punch with irregular interior surfaces. Berk 9.6. SNG von Aulock 8212.

Whereas the gold staters have been discovered in small hordes, most probably remnants of governmental storage, the the gold fractions have been discovered one at a time or in very small groupings, as they were more likely used in every day commerce.

Clear, deeply struck and perfectly centered specimen of this very rare coin, with lusterous surfaces. (only 9 trites - heavy and light togeher - graded to this level or better, and most suffer from muddled strikes regardless of the grade.) Interesting tiny Countermark attesting to its use in everyday commerce is on the edge of the coin, at 9h on the reverse.

NGC Choice AU strk 5/5 - surf 4/5, countermark.................$18,000

KINGS OF LYDIA. Kroisos, circa 560-546 BC. 

AV sixth stater or Hekte (1.82 g), heavy standard, Sardes, c. 560-550. On the left, forepart of a lion to right confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull to left. Rev. Two incuse squares, of unequal size, side by side. Berk 7. Traité I 400 = De Luÿnes 2800. Walburg Group III.

Whereas the gold staters have been discovered in small hordes, most probably remnants of governmental storage, the gold fractions have been discovered one at a time or in very small groupings, as they were more likely used in every day commerce.

Well struck from fresh dies and perfectly centered on a broad flan, with a nearly invisible scuff. Lusterous. Exceptional. Certainly amongst the finest heavy hektes, (only 2 heavy hektes graded to this level or better)

NGC Graded MS strk 5/5 surf 4/5 scuff ..........................................$20,000

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 550-450 BC.

EL Stater (24.5mm, 15.92 g). Lion standing left on tunny left / Quadripartite incuse square. Von Fritze I 84; Greenwell 103; Boston MFA 1475 = Warren 1527; SNG BN –; BMC –; FSB 1475 = Hermitage (Exhibition) 110; Gulbenkian –; Jameson –

Very Rare and Very High Gold Content. Perfectly centered on a broad oval flan, and of the finest style. The power and grace of the running lion is captured as successfully here as anywhere in Greek Art. Though engraved in the archaic period it has a classical fludity. Clearly, considerable care was taken in the preparation and striking of this remarkable issue from the dawn of coinage.

NGC CH XF ★ strk 5/5 surf 4/5

$35,000

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 550-450 BC.

EL Hekte (11mm, 2.67 g). Head of Athena left, wearing crested helmet with cheek guards, on tunny left / Quadripartite incuse square. Von Fritze I 67; Greenwell 25; Boston MFA 1447 = Warren 1444; SNG BN –; BMC 20; Gulbenkian 610;

An attractive arachaic Athena head, well centered and struck. Used throughout the Ancient world at this time as the gold counterpart to the Athenian silver owl.

NGC AU Srk 5/5 surf 4/5..........$5500

Mysia, Lampsakos Circa 500-450 BC

Electrum Stater. (15.41grams) Forepart of Pegasos with curved wings to left, vine with bunches of grapes around / Quadripartite incuse square. A. Baldwin, Period I, pl I, 11; BMC 9; Traité pl. 8, 2. 12; SNG BN 1111; SNG von Aulock 1292 var. (monogram below Pegasos); SNG Copenhagen Supp. 305 var. (same); Boston MFA 1582

A beautiful example of this quitessentially Greek image. Perfectly centered and struck on a full round flan with a beatuful tone. The vast majority of this early issue are poorly struck and centered.

NGC Graded CH XF Strk 5/5 surf 4/5
$10,000
RESERVED

MYSIA. KYZIKOS . Ca. 500-450 BC.

Electrum Hecte ( Hekte ), 2.69 g,
Obv. Facing head of a gorgon in archaic style, tunny left below.
Rev. Quadripartite incuse square.
Von Fritze 129; Greenwell 75.

Very Rare as a Hekte, and unusually well centered with the full Gorgenion head and snake hair. With an interesting contemporary banker's mark on the reverse.

NGC graded CHOICE XF, Stk 5/5, Surf 4/5, banker’s mark.......$5500

LESBOS. Mytilene. Ca. 521-478 BC.

EL hecte (2.51 gm, ).  Forepart of winged lion left / Incuse head of rooster left with a full comb, wearing beaded collar; irregular rectangular punch behind. HGC 6, 933. Bodenstedt 9.

Dies of the very finest archaic style. Very Rare with both sides so perfectly struck and centered.

NGC AU 5/5 - 5/5.................$7500

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 550-450 BC.

EL stater (22mm, 15.99 gm)  Forepart of winged lion flying/ stalking left, right foreleg raised, tunny fish right / Quadripartite incuse square in "mill sail" pattern. Von Fritze 96. SNG France 237.

Rare and exceptionally well-struck and centered on a broad flan, with smooth surfaces. Among the finest surviving specimensm and certainly one of the most dramatic electrum images.

NGC Graded AU strk 5/5, surf 4/5, Fine Style noted...........$18,000 RESERVED

The Aechemenid or Persian Empire was forged by Cyrus the Great (biblical liberator of the Jews of the Babylonian captivity). In about 550 BCE, Cyrus I conquered Croesus of Lydia, and adopted his system of gold and silver coinage. The Persian Empire dominated three continents spanning from Parthia and Bactria (modern day India) through Mesopotamia to the Black Sea Region and down through the Fertile Crescent.

Around 505 BCE the Persian king Darios I decided to inaugurate a gold coinage bearing his own types, rather than continuing to use those of Kroisos of Lydia. These new coins, called Darics (meaning, literally, 'Of the King' - the same LMLK inscription that traveled from the fertile crescent to Lydia) - bore a generalized portrait of the Persian king. The earliest, which employs an image of the King shooting an arrow, is very rare. This coin financed Darios' war with Greece. Later types must have been produced in enormous numbers, and were surely the reserve currency' of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.

The last Achemenid King, Darios III, was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE. With the fall of Persia to Alexander, the many existing darics were surely melted down to supply bullion for Alexander’s own gold staters, though, for a time these two coins would have circulated together.

PERSIA. Achaemenid Empire. Darius I - (ca. 505-480 BC).

AV daric (8.35 gm).  Great King in kneeling-running stance right, drawing back bow and preparing to shoot arrow / Rectangular incuse punch with irregular interior surface. CarradiceType II (pl. XI, 11) BMC Arabia -; SNG Copenhagen -..

Beautiful, fully centered and well detailed example. Extremely rare, especially in this condition. The small horde of about 20 specimens that appeared on the market in 2014 have long since been absorbed, and this is certainly amongst the very finest.

NGC graded MS ★ strike 5/5 surf 5/5
$50,000

PERSIA ACHAEMENID Empire. Artaxerxes I-Xerxes II (ca. 5th century BC).

AV daric (16mm, 8.33 gm).  Lydo-Milesian standard. Sardes, ca. 455-420 BC. Persian king or hero, wearing cidaris candys, in kneeling-running stance right, decorated quiver over shoulder, dagger pointed at waist in right hand, bow outward in left / Rectangular incuse punch with irregular interior surfaces. Carradice Type IV, Group B - unlisted in gold, but examples now known from recent finds.

This very rare daric once had a lion head control mark on the reverse and was since re-engraved. An absolutely brilliant strike which makes use of the odd shaped flan to include far more of the dagger-weilding king than is normally visible: including his crown, bow, dagger and quiver.

NGC MS strk 4/5 - surf 5/5....$16000

PERSIA, Achaemenid Empire. temp. Artaxerxes II to Darios III. Circa 375-336 BC.

AV Daric (15mm, 8.29 g). Lydo-Milesian standard. Sardes mint. Persian king or hero, wearing kidaris and kandys, quiver over shoulder, in kneeling-running stance right, holding spear in right hand, bow in left / Patterned incuse punch. Carradice Type IIIb Late (pl. XV, 50); Meadows, Administration –; BMC Arabia pl. XXV, 24; Sunrise 39 corr

NGC CH AU ★ Strk 5/5 Surf 4/5 light marks, Fine Style noted........$10,000

PERSIA, Achaemenid Empire. temp. Artaxerxes II to Darios III. Circa 375-336 BC.

AV Daric (15.5mm, 8.31 g). Lydo-Milesian standard. Sardes mint. Persian king or hero, wearing kidaris and kandys, quiver over shoulder, in kneeling-running stance right, holding spear in right hand, bow in left / Patterned incuse punch. Carradice Type IIIb Late (pl. XV, 50); Meadows, Administration –; BMC Arabia pl. XXV, 24; Sunrise 39 corr.

Very Rare late type perfectly centered with superb style, far more fluid and elegant and much rarer than the earlier 'fine style" type. Attributed to the Sardes mint, but the striated reverse and fluid style is reminiscent of the Alexandrine darics from the Babylon mint.

The same type in similar condition sold for $16,800: Triton xxi lot 529

NGC MS strk 4/5 surf 3/5, fine style noted.....................................$12,500

ATHENS was,without a doubt, the source of much of what has become viewed as Greek Culture: Democracy, Philosophy, Tragedy, Comedy, Rhetoric.

It is currently fashionable to view the Greeks as "Anthropomorphic Polytheists." Yet when Euripides (ca 480 BCE) has Hecabe (widow of Priam) pray in the "Trojan Women," she says: "Zeus, whether you be force of nature or intelligence in man..."

We can see through this quote that a very specific idea of Human Intelligence is as central to Greek religion as to its art and institutions. Athena was Goddess of Wisdom. The Owl a symbol of Human Intelligence. Thus the images on the coins of Athens were aptly chosen, and would have had evocative connotations for the average Athenian citizen - who would have been trained assiduously in Rhetoric, Philosophy and all the written arts.

The Athenian Owl coin is undoubtedly the world's first reserve silver currency as it was not only accepted throughout the ancient world but by the mid 5th century it was stored in quantity in many regions alonside local currency, hence the amazing quantity of "Mid Mass Coinage." These early coins from the 6th century are very rare in fine Imperial Mint style.

ATTICA, Athens. Circa . 510/500-480 BC

AR tetradrachm (22mm, 17.27 gm,). Head of Athena right, hair in straight beaded braids, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with four laurel leaves and single spiral, the crest box decorated with chevron pattern / AΘΕ, legend in arc around owl standing right with closed wings, head facing; crescent and olive sprig with two leaves and berry hanging vertically behind, all within incuse square. HGC 4, 1592 (ca. 475-470 BC). Starr Group I. Seltman Group N (475-470 BC). 

An archaic mastepiece, exhibiting a beautiful high relief Athena with unusually naturalistic features, highlighted by mysterious almond eyes and a beguiling smile, in a high state of preservation for the type. This coin was surely sruck at what Seltman posited as the Imperial Mint where artists of great skill engraved wonderful dies in distinction to the Civic mint where crude "owl" coinage was churned out in great quantity.

Very Rare in this beautiful style and high grade.

NGC AU strk 4/5 - surf 4/5...
$26,500

MACEDONIA: Philip II of Macedon (359-336 BCE) inherited a war torn country from his brother Pedikas III. From his years as hostage of neighboring Thebes he learned the military strategy based on the phalanx whose manoevers were hidden by rows of warriors bearing "sarissas" - immensely long spears. A gifted warrior and statesmen, Philip, by a combination of strategic alliances and dramatic wars, managed to conquer Macedonia, Illyria, Epirus, Thrace, Thessaly and all of Greece save Sparta. He then set his eyes on Persia, but was murdered on the eve of his planned invasion.

Philip was both a learned man of letters and the arts and a voluptuary of great appetites. Pella, The Macedonian capital had long been a refuge for Greek men of letters, actors and artitsts. Euripedes wrote the Bacchae there, describing a tradition that had been a force in that region for many centuries. Philip also established a strong link to Plato's school, and many philosophers became residents of Pella. Aristotle, who had formed his own school became a tutor during his sonAlexander's formative years.

Alexander III The Great inherited the throne along with his father's love and respect of the Arts and Letters as well as his powerful appetites for wine and beautiful women. He conquered Persia and then India, extending his Empire throughout most of the known world.

Alexander is by far the greatest Classical Hero of well recorded times. His education in the arts and letters inspired him to tracvel with a retinue of writers and artists. Thus his exploits were chronicled by contemporaries Ptolemy, Heironymus, Nearchus (Alexander's admiral), Aristobulus (Alexander's chief engineer) and Calisthenes (Aristotle's nephew) whose writings, though lost, were read and synthesized by Arrian of Nicomedia, much of whose work survives to this day. Herodotus , Diodorus, and Quintus Curtius roughly contemporay to Arrian, also wrote histories that are still partially extant, also drawing on the writings of Alexander's contemporaries.

His image was also recorded by some of the greatest artists of the period. He traveled with reknowned Sculptor Lyssippos, and the reknowned gem carver Pyrgoteles. The coin engraving during this period, and especially during the period following his death was certainly heavily influenced by the court artists who surely trained the some of the engravers who went on to carve masterpieces at the Pella, Lampsakos, Kolophon and Magnesia mints. Much of the portraiture of this period is unrivaled.

After Alexander's death from fever in Babylon, his General, Perdikkas seized control and legitimized his reign by passing the crown to Alexander's infirm half-brother Philip III, Arrhideus, who was eventually murdered by Olympia, Alexander's mother. Perdikkas was immediately contested by the rest of Alexander's generals, especially the inner circle referred to as his "bodyguards," who split up the empire in a series of bloody wars.

Lysimachus ultimately took Thrace. He produced a series of gold staters that became a standard of trade coinage that endured for 300 years.

Ptolemy Soter (the savior) took Egypt, and founded a dynasty that lasted 300 years. He was the first living king to issue coinage with his own image.

Seleukos Nikator (the victor), was chosen along with Ptolemy, Perdikkas and Lysimachos to personally accompany Alexander on the decisive assault in India. though he was only a junior officer in Alexander's army. After Alexander's death, Seleukos served as a general under Perdikkas, but eventually switched sides and murdered Perdikkas in his tent during the ill-fated attack on Ptolemy in Egypt.

He then took over Babylon along with Peithon but soon fell under the control of Antigonus Monopthalmos when that General conquered all of Asia. But in 311 BCE Seleukos, supported by his old friend Ptolemy, was able to unseat Antigonos and claim Asia for himself, making his capital Antioch. He eventually was able to extend his Empire as far east as India. He defeated Lysimchos in 281, to regain most of Alexander's empire, save for Egypt.

Kings of Macedon, Alexander III 336-323 BC

AV Gold Stater issued under Seleukos I Nikator, 312-281 BC. ( 8.59 g) struck in the name of Alexander III, Babylon, c. 311-300. Head of Athena right, wearing triple-crested Corinthian helmet decorated with a serpent, single pendant earring, and necklace / [BA]-ΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOY, Nike standing left, holding wreath in extended right hand, cradling stylis in left arm; MI below left wing, monogram in wreath below right wing. SC 81.2 var. (pellet in rho of monogram); Price 3748 var. (same); HGC 9, 3a; SNG Saroglos 166–8 var. (same); Triton XVI, lot 536; Gorny & Mosch 203, lot 143; Roma II, lot 355. 

A coin of Superb Style, with lovely fully lusterous surfaces. Perfectly struck and centered.

NGC Graded MS ★ strk 5/5, surf 4/5 $24,000

KINGS of MACEDON. Philip III Arrhidaios. 323-317 BC.

AV Stater (17.5mm, 8.63 g, 12h). In the types of Philip II. Magnesia on the Maeander mint. Struck under Menander or Kleitos, circa 322-319 BC. Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath / ΦIΛIΠΠOY, charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving fast biga right; bee below, spear head in exergue. Thompson, Philip 3; Le Rider –; SNG ANS 312 corr. (Thompson 3, not 2; same dies); SNG München 98.

One of Two Dies Officially Recognized as a Portrait of Alexander the Great - and so noted on the holder. Certainly amongst the finest style gold staters in the entire Greek Series, weill struck on a broad flan.

Some infnitessimal "edge filing" noted that didn't affect either the weight of the coin or appearance of the edge.

NGC CH AU strk 5/5 surf 3/5 Fine Style noted, Alexander the Great Portrait Noted, edge filing, brushed....$12,500

KINGS of MACEDON. Philip III Arrhidaios. 323-317 BC.

AV Stater (18mm, 8.57 gm,). Iissued in Abydus, under Philip III Arrhidaeus, ca. 323-317 BC. Laureate head of Apollo right / ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ, charioteer driving racing biga right, kentron in right hand, reins in left hand; Ξ and horse's leg right below horses. SNG ANS 298. Thompson 89a.

A skillfully rendered portrait - rare in mint state.

NGC graded MS strk 5/5 surf 3/5, Fine Style noted...............sold

KINGS of MACEDON Philip III Arrhidaios. 323-317 BC.  

AV Stater (18.5mm, 8.54 g,). In the types of Philip II. Kolophon mint. Struck under Menander or Kleitos, circa 322-319 BC. Head of Apollo right wearing laurel wreath / ΦIΛIΠΠOY, charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving fast biga right; grain ear and spearhead in exergue. Thompson, Philip 7 (same obv. die as illustration); Le Rider –; SNG ANS - extremely rare issue with the grain ear,

High relief strike with exceptional style boths sides, perfectly centered on a broad flan and lovely surfaces. A miniature greek sculptural masterpiece.

NGC Graded CH AU strik 5/5 - surf 4/5 Fine Style noted........................$10,000

BITHYNIA. KALCHEDON, Ca 230-220

AV Stater (Gold, 19 mm, 8.56 g), in the style and name of Lysimachus, Diademed head of Prusias or Nicomedes with horn of Ammon over his ear. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ - ΛΥΣΙΜΑΧΟΥ Athena seated left, holding Nike, crowning the king's name, in her right hand and leaning with her left arm on shield decorated with lion's head; behind, transverse spear; in inner left field, Φ; in exergue, bull butting left. Müller 358. Seyrig, Byzance et de Calcédoine, p. 196 and pl. 25, 25

A stunning coin of remarkable style and quality. A beautiful portrait of a Bythinian King, probably meant to be either Nicomedes I as the founder of the Bythinian Kingdom or Prusias with the features of Nicomedes.

(Julius Caesar fled to ther court of Bythinia to escape Sulla in 80BC, and his rumored relationship with Nicomedes IV led to his nickname "The Queen of Bythinia.")

NGC MS strk 5/5 surf 3/5, skillfully brushed to create beautiful prooflike surfaces, with a scuff on the horn noted.

sold

Image result for alexander by lysippos Image result for Pyrgoteles

Roman copy of a bust by Lyssippos of Alexander

and a gem engraved by Pyrgoteles

WESTERN GREEK GOLD was most often minted to pay mercenary armies in times of war. Many are emergency issues and as such are quite rare as is the case of the Masterpiece of Greek Art below:

SICILY, Syracuse. Timoleon and the Third Democracy. 344-317 BC.

AV 30 Litrai – Quarter Stater (12mm, 2.11 g). Struck circa 339/8-336 BC. Laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios right; thunderbolt to left / Pegasos flying right; ΣΩ below. Garraffo Series B, b; HGC 2, 1283 corr. (club or thunderbolt). 

A very rare coin with the thunderbolt control, and of paricularly beautiful style. A majestic head of Zeus, probably the finet of this rare series. Perfectly centered and struck, and quite possibly by the same artist as the coin of Taras below.

NGC Graded CH VF strk 5/5 surf 4/5 Fine Style noted.....................sold

Calabria, Tarentum. Temp Alexander the Molossian circa 333-330,

Half stater AV 4.27 g. [TAPANTINΩN] Head of Hera r., wearing stephane, triple-pendant earring and necklace. Rev. TAPAΣ Dolphin rider l., holding small dolphin on outstretched r. hand and trident in l.; below, M. Fischer-Bossert G6. Dewing 150. Historia Numorum Italy 902.

A masterpiece of Greek Art struck under Alexander the Mollosian, brother to Olympias and Uncle to Alexander the Great and a fabled warrior in his own right.

Extremely Rare and and of the three known with this fine style right facing head of Hera, this is the only example with fully struck and centred images. Truly a sculptural masterpiece of classical Greek Art., and quite possibly by the same artist as the coin of Timoleon above.

NGC Graded AU strike 5/5 surf 4/5 fine style noted, light marks...$50,000

SICILY. Syracuse. Hieron II, 275-215 BC. 

60 Litrai or Dekadrachm (Gold, 16 mm, 4.28 g, 1 h), circa 269-263 or 218/7-215. Head of Persephone to left, wearing wreath of grain ears, pendant earring and pearl necklace; behind, cornucopiae. Rev. IEPΩΝΟΣ Nike driving biga galloping to right, holding kentron in her right hand and reins in her left; below, pellet. BMC 508 (same dies). BMFA 474 (same dies). Carroccio 7 (D5/R5). Hunterian 225 (same dies).

ex Numismatica Ars Classica 78, 26 May 2014, 222

rare, well struck and centered, and of unusually fine style.

NGC Graded CH AU Strk 5/5, surf 4/5 fine style noted........sold

PTOLEMAIC EGYPT: After the death of Alexander the Great, his generals (referred to as his bodyguards) split up his empire in a series of wars. Lysimachus took Thrace. Seleukos Nikator (the victor) won the Eastern Empire, making his capital Antioch; and Ptolemy Soter (the savior) took Egypt.

The Ptolemies presided over a tremendous period of financial and cultural prosperity that included the founding of the museum/college at Alexandria, which hosted the brightest scholars, scientists, mathemeticians and philosophers of the day, and the famed library which imported and commissioned copies of all the important literature of the era, including the translation of the Old Testament know as the Septuagint. This translation provides us with the earliest extant version of the five Books of Moses (Pentateuch). Ptolemy I himself wrote a difinitve history of Alexander's campaigns.

Additionally a cadre of remarkable artists were hired to engrave an extensive gold coinage that includes the first portraits of a living king, and the largest gold coins of the ancient world. . Egypt lay in the center of the trade route that included the gold mines of Guinea West Africa, and Kush (Auxum/Ethiopia) so they had a prodigou source of gold. Yet their coinage seems to have been used exclusively within Egypt, as pieces are rarely discovered in other lands.

Remarkably, Alexandria, to this day, remains a center of learning and culture in North Afica.

     

Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt, Ptolemy I Philadelphus, 285-246 BC.

Pentadrachm, Alexandria 277 BC, AV 17.80 g. Diademed head r., wearing aegis. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ – ΠTOΛEMAIOY Eagle standing l. on thunderbolt, wings closed; in l. field, Σ over shield and between legs, regnal year I (10).Svoronos 573 and pl. XIII, 3 SNG Copenhagen – Boston –

A striking fine style portrait of Ptolemy I, in the syle of the Delta Master, though not signed. Artfully broshed to create prooflike obverse surface. Certainly close to mint state.

NGC graded CH AU strk 5/5 surf 3/5, brushed..............................$20,000

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy II Philadelphos. 285-246 BC

AV Pentadrachm (17.86 gms), Alexandria Mint, ca. 285-272 B.C. Diademed head of Ptolemy I facing right, wearing aegis around neck, small Delta Δ in curl of hair behind ear; Reverse: Eagle standing on thunderbolt facing left, various control letters in left field. Svoronos-537 (pl.12#8); cf.BMC-6.23,89

Stunning highly lustrous, exceptionally well struck with dies of the finest style signed behind Ptolemy's ear by the Delta Master. Minst State, prooflike surfaces. A masterpiece of Ptolemaic portraiture. An extremely rare die for this issue.

From the John Whitney Walter Collection.

NGC MS, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 3/5. Fine Style noted....................$55,000

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy II Philadelphos, with Arsinöe II, Ptolemy I, and Berenike I. 285-246 BC.

AV Mnaïeion – “Oktadrachm” (27mm, 27.69 g,). Alexandreia mint. Struck circa 285-261/0 BC. Conjoined busts of Ptolemy II and Arsinöe II right; Ptolemy is diademed and draped, Arsinöe is diademed and veiled; AΔEΛΦΩN above, shield to left / Conjoined busts of Ptolemy I and Berenike I; Ptolemy is diademed and draped, Berenike is diademed and veiled; ΘEΩN above. Svoronos 603; SNG Copenhagen 132; Noeske 37; Boston MFA 2274; Dewing 2752; Kraay & Hirmer 801.

Pleasant specimen with a good strike and four skillfully rendered portraits.

NGC Graded CH XF strk 5/5 surf 4/5..............................................sold

PTOLEMAIC KINGS OF EGYPT.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC), with Arsinoe II, Ptolemy I, and Berenice I.

AV half-mnaieion or tetradrachm (20mm, 13.89 gm, 12h). Alexandria, ca. 270/65-261/0 BC. AΔEΛΦΩN, jugate busts right of Ptolemy II, draped and diademed, and Arsinoe II, diademed and veiled; Gallic shield behind / ΘEΩN, jugate busts right of Ptolemy I, diademed and draped, and Berenice, diademed and veiled. Svoronos 604. SNG Copenhagen 133. 

Dies of fine style in excpetional condition, perfectly centered and firmly stuck on pristine surface. Surely one of the finest extant.

NGC Graded MS ★ 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style noted...........................$35,000

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy III Euergetes. 246-222 BC.

AV mnaieion or octodrachm (27mm, 27.72 gm, 11h). , Posthumous issue of Alexandria, under Ptolemy IV, ca. 219-217 BC. Bust of deified Ptolemy III right, wearing radiate diadem and aegis, ornate trident over left shoulder, the central tine ornamented with lotus finial; dotted border / ΠTOΛEMAIOY-BAΣIΛEΩΣ, cornucopia bound with radiate royal diadem, containing grain ear, pyramidal cake and pomegranate, grape cluster hanging from left side of rim; ΔI below, dotted border. CPE 888. Svoronos 1117

Very Early Die State with virtually no die rust, rare thus, attractive surfaces with underlying luster and the finest style of the series. Skillfully brushed to create proof like obverse surface

NGC AU 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style noted, brushed ........................$27.000

Carthage was founded by Semitic Phoenician (Punic) traders around 700 BCE. About 300 years earlier The Phoenicians had developed the single greatest invention in Western History: the Alpahbetic system of writing. This Alphabet was quickly adopted by both the Aryan speaking tribes of Greece and the Black Sea (from whom we get Greek and then Latin) and the Semitic tribes of the Fertile Crescent (from whom we get Hebrew and the Arabic languages.)

This system took written language out of the domain of priests and scribes and into the hands of merchants, householders, and essentially any bright shephard who put in a little hard study time.

In one of the great ironies of history, because the Phoenecians used this language primarily for practical accounting purposes, we know relatively little about this brilliant civilization, whereas their cousins to the South - the Judaeans (whose language, customs, city planning, art and religion were manifestly similar) - adopted the system of writing and created a narrative literature that captured the imagination of people down to this day.

Through a quirk of linguistic fate, the Judaeans called their God 'El,' rather than the Phoenecian 'Baal,' and then the Aramaic speaking Arabs called their God 'Elah' - distinctions that formed the justification for thousands of years of bloody tribal conflict.

By the third century BCE, enriched by control of the gold trade from Senegal, Guinea and Kush, Carthage had become a military powerhouse of the Southern Mediteranean. The Punic goddess Tanit\Astarte (the consort of Baal) and the horse had become the standard types of Carthaginian coinage and remained so for the balance of the city’s existence. Tanit is always depicted on the coinage wearing a wreath of grain just like her Greek counterpart Demeter.

Carthage waged a series of successful wars in Sicily and Italy ( notably under Hannibal - or Hani-Baal priest of baal) until it was destroyed in 146 BCE after the third Punic War by the Romans.

CARTHAGE. Circa 350-320 BC.

AV Stater ( 9.54 g,. Carthage mint. Wreathed head of Tanit left, wearing triple-pendant earring, and necklace with seven pendants / Horse standing right; three pellets to right of forelegs. Jenkins & Lewis Group IIIh, 77; 

Stunningly beautiful dies perfectly centered and cerainly at the high end of mint state.

NGC Graded MS strk 5/5 surf 4/5

sold


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