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Greek Gold Coins
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Greek Gold Coins

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, and then Lesbos and Kyzykos.

These coins undoubtedly were responsible for a boom in trade both between city-states, and in the rapid escalation of local markets. Herodutus 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.

Croesus of Lydia was the first king to separate the electrum to issue gold and silver coins circa 545 BCE. He was conquered by Cyrus of Persia. Darios I of Persia issued his own gold and silver coinage ca 510 BCE. Coinage spread quickly in the early fifth century BCE through the Greek city states. Most of the trade coinage was silver, while gold was most often reserved for emergency issues associated with war.

THE COINS: The Dawn of Coinage: click on the coins to see the image enlarged.

ARCHAIC GREEK COINS: LYDIA AND 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.

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 this writing in combination with the image of the Lion, symbol of the Royal House, to invent the first coinage. They used Electrum, a naturally occurring gold and silver alloy found in the River Patroclus, though more recent studies have suggested that they intentionally fabricated the electrum.

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.

It is certainly no coincidence that the Athenians, who adopted, and in many respects perfected, the systems of Alphabetic Language and Bimetallic Currency (using Kyzikene electrum staters for gold and Athenian Owls for silver), soon after invented Democracy - the system of Government that for the first time in human history honored the power (Kratos) of the Private Citizen (Demos) over that of the Autocratic or Plutacratic State.

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 (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. There are quite a few different dies from this period - some careslessly engraved and struck, others engraved with great skill.
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, YRDYS in Phoenician lettering / Double square incuse punch. Weidauer 91-2. SNG Von Auluck 8204.

Very Sharp strike with clear letters and clean surfaces. An altogether superior example of this rare issue, and of the highest historical significance.

NGC graded AU, Str 5/5 surf 5/5
$26,000

IONIAN PREPARED ELECTRUM HECTE INGOT CIRCA 7th Century BC.

Early proto money prepared at 2.48 Grams to the Phokaic weight standard of a Hekte either to be later stamped, or, perhaps , simply used in trade before coins were stamped..

Extremely Rare, perhaps the only certified Proto Hekte.

NGC Certified, Slabbed and Graded as XF (as it is unstruck there is no strike or surface grade)..............$2000

IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 625-600 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. No new specimens have turned up since. Only 8 have thus far been graded.

NGC graded XF; Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5. ...................................$16,000

IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 650-600 BC. EL Trite – Third Stater (11.5mm, 4.58 g).

Lydo-Milesian standard. Globular surface with cluster of pellets / Two incuse squares. Weidauer –; Traité I 3; Elektron –; Rosen 253; SNG Kayhan –; SNG von Aulock 7761; Boston MFA 1749; Pozzi 2350

This type comes from a recently released horde of about 50 trites along with smaller denominations and a very few larger denominations. Before this, the type was known from a very few examples. Examples are still fairly common at auction, but can't remain so for long,

A nice mint state example of this very early archaic coinage

NGC MS strk 5/5 surf 4/5.........$3500

KINGS of LYDIA. temp. Alyattes – Kroisos. Circa 610-546 BC.

EL Trite – Third Stater (13mm, 4.72 g). Sardes mint. Head of roaring lion right, sun with multiple rays on forehead / Two incuse square punches. Weidauer Group XVI, 86–9; Traité I 44; SNG Kayhan 1013; SNG von Aulock 2868–9; Rosen 655-6.

Extremely Rare Star example, Magmificent strike with every detail of the lion sharply depicted and of superior style. Certainly amongst the finest extant..

NGC CH AU ★ Strk 5/5 surf 4/5........ $ 22,000

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

AR Stater (19mm, 10.65 g). Sardes mint. Confronted foreparts of lion and bull / Two incuse squares. Berk 19; SNG Ashmolean 760. 

An elegant example on unusually sound metal for the issue.

NGC Graded CH XF Strk 4/5 surf 4/5 $5500

IONIA, Uncertain. Miletos? Circa 650-600 BCE or 575-525 BCE.

EL Stater (14.25 g). Lydo-Milesian standard. Forepart of bridled horse left; rosette at breast, lotus at nape of the neck / Three incuses: a central rectangular punch flanked by two square punches. Fischer-Bossert, Horses 2 (dies H2/H1-H3); Weidauer 138–9; ACGC 56; Konuk & Lorber fig. 7; Le Rider, Naissance, pl. III, 7; SNG Kayhan 714 (same punches); Traité pl. II, 24.

Amongst the finest examples of this very rare issue, and one of the very few extant examples with a well struck horse around which the lotus-rosette motif is clearly visible on the flan.

The reverse punches bear marked resemblance to the lion staters of Miletos. Fischer-Bossert speculates that the lotus and rosette motif must derive from Persian rule which began in about 550 BCE. Yet this neglects the fact that these motifs are common to the Siva-Dionysiac religion that existed in this region centuries earlier. Whatever the case, these symbols are peculiar to this issue at this eartly date and as such are of tremendous fascination.

NGC Graded CH XF strk 4/5 surf 4/5
$26,500

The image of the Recumbent Lion is found on the gates of Babylon, on the walls of the Pyramids and before the gates of the City of Walls in China. It is the ultimate image of Protection, and it transverses all cutlures. The earliest numismatic Recumbant Lion image appears on the electrum coinage of Miletus.

Ionia, Miletus Circa 650-600 BCE or 575 - 525 BCE

EL Stater (22mm, 14.00 g). Lion reclining left, head reverted, within rectangular frame divided into smaller rectangular compartments / Central oblong punch, containing three pellets connected in Λ shape, two parallel lines, and a fox standing left; flanked by two square punches containing, respectively, a stellate pattern and a stag’s head left. Weidauer 126; Elektron I 61; SNG von Aulock –; SNG Copenhagen –; SNG Kayhan 440; BMC 2; Boston MFA 1882; Kraay & Hirmer 591; Traité I 19 = C. Greenwell, “On some Rare Greek Coins” in NC 1897, pl. XI, 17; Konuk & Lorber fig. 18.

Very rare, especially in this condition

Ex Jacquier FPL 26 (Spring 2001), no. 79; Martin Huth Collection, purchased from Frank Sternberg.

NGC Graded CH XF strk 4/5 Surf 4/5
sold

Ionia, Miletus 650-550 BCE

Electrum Hekte, (2.33g.) Lion reclining left, its head reverted. Rev. Two square punches containing geometric designs (SNG Kayhan 443 var; cf Weidauer 130)

A remarkably detailed and complete lion in a state of preservation entirely exceptional for this rare and usually degraded issue. Far superior to any example listed in coin archives. Extremely rare thus.

Ex Dr. Larry Adams Collection

NGC Graded CH XF, Strike 5/5 surf 4/5
$2650

Ionia, Erythraia 550-500

EL Hekte – Sixth Stater (2.58 g). Head of Herakles left, wearing lion skin; the lion skin has three rays emanating from its forehead and snout / Quadripartite incuse square. Cf. SNG Kayhan 737–8 var. (without rays); cf. SNG von Aulock 1942 var. (same); SNG Copenhagen –; cf. Boston MFA 1806–7 var. (same); CNG E-332, lot 59.

Very rare variety of superior style:
With the lion skin having three rays emanating from its forehead and snout, much like the earlier electrum coinage issued by the Lydian kings.

NGC Graded CH AU★ Strk 5/5 surf 5/5
$2200

Pegasus is an entirley Greek image which encompasses the Greek notion of "Becoming" - which is to say that which is changing as opposed to that which is unchanging. This is a dialectic that informs the work of the greatest Greek philolophers from Heraclitus to Parmenides to Socrates.

The Gorgon Medusa is initially a beautiful girl who bewitches Poseidon. Poseidon rapes her in the temple of Athena. Enraged, Athena turns Medusa into a hideous creature whose gaze turns all to stone. When Medusa is slain by Perseus, Pegasus springs from Medusa's neck, completing the circle of change from beautiful to hideous and back to beautiful.

The first images of Pegasus appear on Greek pottery dating to the seventh century BCE. The first numismatic image appears on the coinage of Lampsakos shortly thereafter. Pegasus remains as the badge of Lampsokos for the next three hundred years.

The archaic pegasus on the electrum stater below displays a circular fluidity that perfectly encompasses the idea of "Becoming" in a way that is lost in later images.

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
$10,500

ZEUS AND HIS MESSENGER EAGLE: A MASTERPIECE OF GREEK CLASSICAL ART

MYSIA, Kyzikos. 5th-4th centuries BC.

EL Stater ( 15.91 g). Zeus kneeling right, chiton draped from waist, holding scepter in right arm, left arm extended, above which an eagle stands right, with open wings; below, tunny right / Quadripartite incuse square. Von Fritze I 145; Greenwell 2; SNG France 296; Boston MFA 1530 = Warren 1422.

Very Rare and far superior to the Prospero excample that sold for $33,000, beautiful complete image of Zeus and his messenger Eagle, a few minor scuffs on the obverse.

The scepter of Zeus becomes the symbol of royalty in western culture, and Zeus' Eagle becomes the symbol of Imperial Power in empires throughout western history from Rome to the United States.

NGC Graded CH XF strk 5/5 surf 3/5
Fine Style noted, scuffs noted
...$20,000

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.....................$20,000

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 550-500 BC.

EL Stater (16.16 g). Head of lion left; behind, tunny upward / Quadripartite incuse square. Von Fritze I 39; Boston MFA 1414; SNG von Aulock 7272; SNG France 178.

Striking Archaic lion, roughly contemporary to the early Lions of Lydia and Miletos, though considerably more serene. The lion was the symbol of Royalty for the Achaean hordes that invaded Black Sea Region and then Greece in waves from 1200 BCE.

Perfectly centered and struck on a broad clean flan. Among the finest known for this issue.

NGC Graded CH XF★ Strk 5/5 Surf 5/5............................................$7,500

THE SIVA/SILENOS HEKTE: There is no doubt that the first wave of settlers who conquered Crete and then Greece were Siva-worshipping fertililty cultists from the Indus Valley as early as 3500 BCE. Their God, Siva, became Dio-Nysus (the God of Nysus - the birthplace of Shiva). The Dionyisiac religion was later incorporated into the Sky-God religion of the Aryan speaking tribes that flooded into Macedonia and then Greece in waves starting around 1200 BCE.

The Hekte below bears a portrait of Silenos: Dionysus' alter ego, portayed with a clear Third Eye in the middle of his forehead - linking Dionysus direclty to Siva. This same "Third Eye" can be seen on some of the Facing Sienos Electrum Staters of the same period.

This very rare archaic masterpiece clearly demonstrates the importance of coinage as documentation of an era from which very little writing has survived.

IONIA, Phokaia. Circa 521-478 BC.

EL Hekte – Sixth Stater (2.57 g). Facing head of Silenos, small seal/ Quadripartite incuse square punch. Bodenstedt Em. 43; Boston MFA –; SNG von Aulock –; BMC 3; SNG Fitzwilliam 4559.

Catalogued by NGC and at auction as the same issue as above. But this one does not have the "Third Eye of Siva."

Still, to quote Nomos: Given its small size this coin can only be termed a masterpiece. Virtually no other coin bearing a facing head produced during the Archaic period rivals the virtuosity of its engraving – Silenos' head on this coin has a presence that more than belies its small size. 

NGC Graded CH AU Strk 4/5, surf 5/5 $3500

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; though a tiny horde has been recently discovered.. 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 vast majority of the then existing darics were surely melted down to supply bullion for Alexander’s own gold staters.

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 hit the market in 2014 have long since been absorbed..

NGC graded MS ★strike 5/5 surf 5/5
POR

PERSIA, Achaemenid Empire. Time of Artaxerxes I-Xerxes II. Ca 455-420 BC.

AV Daric (8.33 gm). Persian king or hero in kneeling-running stance right, holding dagger / Incuse punch. Carradice Type IV, Group A (pl. XIII, 32); BMC Arabia pl. XXVI, 9.

A very rare variety of a rare type. The reverse is from an issue that had been inscribed with a lion's head, though the lion's head has been erased prior to this strike. A small horde of 'dagger darics' was discovered over 10 years ago and no new specimens have been recorded since.

Condition rarity of a rare coin.

Ex CNG 67

NGC graded CH MS stk 5/5 surf 5/5
POR

PERSIA, Achaemenid Empire. Time of Xerxes II-Artaxerxes II (ca. 420-375 BC).

AV daric (15mm, 8.33 gm). Persian king or hero in kneeling-running position right, wearing kidaris (crown) with four points and kandys (royal robe), holding transverse spear with round rear terminal in right hand and bow in left; quiver over shoulder / Rectangular incuse punch with rough interior surface. Carradice Type IIIb B. 

Perfectly centered, fully struck, lustrous, superior example. Though over 400 have been graded, only 30 have graded MS Star or higher.

NGC Graded MS ★ strk 5/5 - surf 4/5 $5000

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.....................................$12000

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.

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 454-404 BC.

AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 17.17 g,). Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye / Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent behind; all within incuse square. Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597.

Beautifully toned and perfectly centered example in the finest style for the issue.. Tremendous eye appeal.

NGC Graded MS Strk 5/5 surf 3/5
sold

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.

The Seleuked Kings figures prominently in the Old Testament Book of the Maccabees (as villains).

Though current fashion is to attribute some gold Alexander types to Seleukos, Antigonos, Ptolemy and the other generals. this is largely guesswork. Gold coinage in the name of Seleukos and the other generals is very rare.

KINGS OF MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’, 336-323 BC.

Stater (Gold, 18 mm, 8.66 g, 5 h), Amphipolis, circa 330-320. Head of Athena to right, wearing Corinthian helmet adorned with serpent. Rev.AΛEΞANΔPOY Nike standing left, holding wreath in her right hand and stylis in her left; to left, trident head downwards. Price 172.

Gorgeous lifetime stater of Alexander lovely style, both sides, and lustrous surfaces with a few minor marks in the reverse field.

NGC MS strk 5/5 surf 3/5.......$5750

KINGS OF MACEDON. Alexander III ‘the Great’, 336-323 BC

AV stater (20mm, 8.57 gm,).

Judging by the exquisite dies struck immediately after Alexander's death at the Babylon mint probably by the same artists who struck the maginificent Philip Staters during the period. Head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet pushed back on head, the bowl decorated with coiled serpent right / AΛEΞANΔPOY / BAΣ-IΛEΩΣ, Nike standing left, wreath upward in right hand, stylis cradled in left arm; MYP monogram in wreath below wing in left field, HP monogram below wing in right field. Price -, cf. 3716 (HYP monogram in wreath, sphinx on helmet). SC -, cf. 81.9 (same).

From exquisite dies of the finest style on a pristine flan. Virtually unimprovable example, and an extremely rare and lifelike obverse die. A miniature sculpture on both sides.

NGC Choice MS ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style noted.....................................sold

SELEUKID EMPIRE. Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281 BC.

AV Stater in the name of Seleukos. (16.5mm, 8.61 g, 9h). Seleukeia on the Tigris mint I. Struck circa 300-296/5 BC. Head of Athena right, wearing single pendant earring, necklace, and triple-crested Corinthian helmet adorned with a coiled serpent / BAΣIΛEΩ-[Σ] ΣEΛEYKOY, Nike standing left, holding wreath in extended right hand, cradling stylis in left arm; monogram below right wing. SC 115.2 var. (monogram and position); ESM 1 var. (same); HGC 9, 4d; CSE 939 = Sunrise 170 var. (same, same obv. die). Extremely rare variety, unpublished in SC. Ex Dr. Larry Adams collection

A remarkable and extremely rare portrait of fine style The features of "Athena" bear a marked resemblance to those of Seleukos when compared to the silver portrait tetradrachms. One of the few coins in the name of Seleukos I

Image result for seleucus tetradrachm

NGC graded CH AU ★ strk 5/5 surf 4/5............................................$15,500

Little is known of Philip III. He is thought to have been dim witted, but then so was Claudius, and he turned out to be brilliant. It is probable that he was infirm as he took no part in Alexander's conquests though Alexander was said to have been quite fond of him. Whatever the case, Philip - at some point - under the auspices first of Perdikkas, and then Antigonos Monopthalmos, and finally his wicked step mother Olympias, produced an astounding Fine Style coinage borrowing stylisitcally from the coinage of his father Philip II. But instead of a stylized head of Apollo, his master artists at the Kolophon, Abydos Lampsokos and Pella mints engraved magnficent portraits. Some of the most brilliant coins bear the likeness of Alexander the Great. Others, are unidentifed, though clearly modelled after real subjects.

The reasons behind this startling artistic departure from previous engraving is unknown. Certainly there was a premium on establishing dynastic lineage. And certainly there was an artist or group of artists capable of high quality fine style portraiture. Beyond that, we can only speculate.

For more on this amazing fine style period of coinage please read my blog article:

http://gold-stater.blogspot.com/2018/09/fine-style-images-of-alexander-great.html

KINGS of MACEDON Philip III. 323-317BCE


AV Stater (8.60 g,). Kolophon mint. circa 323-319 BC. Laureate head of Apollo right, with the features of Alexander the Great/ FILIPPOU, charioteer (Pelops - the derivation of the name Philip) driving biga right, tripod below horses. Thompson, Philip 12, Le Rider pl. 93, 26;

With a superb portrait of Alexander the Great. Struck shortly after Alexander's death in Babylon, in the name of Philip III, most probably under the direction of Perdikkas, who controlled Alexander's embalmed corpse - until it was stolen by Ptolemy. A stunning piece, struck from fresh dies with a wonderful tone and full weight to the 100th of a gram. Certainly amongst the finest - if not the finest - extant. A near perfect coin of a most important type.

NGC graded Choice Mint State ★
strk 5/5. surf 5/5 fine style noted
sold

TWO MORE FINE STYLE PORTRAITS OF ALEXANDER:

KINGS of MACEDON. Philip III Arrhidaios. 323-317 BC. AV Stater (18mm, 8.63 g,). In the types of Philip II. Abydos mint. Struck under Leonnatos, Arrhidaios, or Antigonos I Monophthalmos. Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath / ΦIΛIΠΠOY, charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving biga right; star and erasure mark below. Thompson, Philip 25 = ADM II Series VI, 101 = SNG ANS 300 (same dies, but with monogram still in die); CNG 84, lot 277 (same dies)

Truly a masterpiece of Alexandrine portraiture.

NGC graded MS, Strk 5/5, surf 4/5, fine style noted..........................$16,500

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 and lovely surfaces

NGC Graded CH AU strik 5/5 - surf 4/5, Fine Style noted........................$7500

Image result for lysippos bust of ALexander Image result for Pyrgoteles

Roman copy of a bust by Lyssippos of Alexander

and a gem engraved by Pyrgoteles

KINGS of THRACE. Lysimachos. 323-281 BC.

AV Stater (8.39 gm). Byzantium mint 225-205 BC. Diademed head of deified Alexander right, wearing horn of Ammon / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛΥΣIMAXOΥ, Athena seated left, holding Nike, with shield, spear behind;

Superb portrait of Alexander the Great - clearly from a contemporary marble. Unique and unrecorded in the standard references, and of a remarkable style in distinction to all other Lysimachos types from this period.

NGC graded: CH AU, strike 5/5, surf 4/5, fine style noted, rev marks noted.
$13,500

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. Very light cleaning marks in the fields (brushed).

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

Signed, Pedrigreed Ptolemy I Pentadrachm in the fienst naturalistic style wholly extraordinary for the entire Ptolemy portraiture series. Signed behind the ear with Lambda Λ - or Delta Δ  - in mint state with near proof like surfaces. Certainly amongst the finest pentradrachms if not the finest.

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 Lambda Λ - or 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. A masterpiece of Ptolemaic portraiture.

From the John Whitney Walter Collection.

NGC MS, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 3/5. Fine Style noted.........................POR

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

AV half-mnaieion or tetradrachm (20mm, 13.94 gm)  Alexandria, dated Year 1 (of deification?), ca. 271/0 BC. Jugate busts of Ptolemy II, draped and diademed, and Arsinoe II, diademed and veiled, right; AΔEΛΦΩN above, date (?) A above Gallic shield behind / Jugate busts of Ptolemy I, diademed and draped, and Berenice, diademed and veiled, right; ΘEΩN above. Svoronos 614.

Extremely rare dated issue in the finest style in high sculptural relief: and especially rare in mint state.

Well struck from dies engraved by a skilled master, clearly chosen to destinguish an important issue, The year "A" above the Gallic shield indicates the first year of something - either the reign, the issue, or perhaps, as Svoronos suggests, the Apoptheosis of Arsinoe II. Svoronos lists only 4 known of this type, and only five more were counted in the recent horde, making this an extremely rare issue indeed.

NGC MS strk 5/5, surf 4/5 Fine Style noted..............................$22,000

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Arsinoe II Philadelphos. Died 270/268 BC.

AV Mnaieion – ‘Oktadrachm’ (28mm, 27.70 g, 11h). Alexandreia mint. Struck under Ptolemy II, circa 253/2-246 BC. Head right with ram’s horn, veiled and wearing stephanos; lotus-tipped scepter in background, Λ to left / APΣINOHΣ ΦIΛAΔEΛΦOY, double cornucopia, grape bunches hanging at sides, bound with fillet. Svoronos 476; Olivier & Lorber dies 1/10; Troxell, Arsinoe, Group 3, p. 44 and pl. 7, 4 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen –; Adams –; Boston MFA –; BMC 11 (same obv. die); Hunt IV 500 (same obv. die); Pozzi 3224 (same obv. die).

Rare Lambda Λ control mark issue, of superior style, with an epeptional strike.. Thought to have been struck to commemorate the apotheosis of Arsinoe II. and thus possibly related to the tetradrachm above.

NGC Graded AU strk 5/5, surf 4/5 Fines Syle noted............$17,500

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

AV Mnaieion – “Oktadrachm” (26mm, 27.81 g,). Alexandria mint. Struck under Ptolemy IV, 219-217 BC. Bust of the deified Ptolemy III right, wearing radiate diadem and aegis; trident over left shoulder, middle prong ends in a lotus finial / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, radiate and filleted cornucopia; ΔI below. CPE 888; Svoronos 1117; Olivier & Lorber dies 1/1; SNG Copenhagen 196; Benha 28 (same obv. die); Boston MFA 2283; Kraay & Hirmer 803; Noeske 137.

With underlying luster. Attractive small head style with expressive features that can best be appreciated in this very early rust-free die state. Exceptional for the issue.

NGC graded CH AU strk 5/5, surf 4/5
$27,500

WESTERN GREEK GOLD: As mentioned, western Greek Gold, was often a product of emergency war issues, minted to pay off armies. Carthage, Epirus, Syracuse, and Calabria all minted gold pieces, often in conjunction with wars waged against a new rising power in the region: Rome

Agothokles was son of a potter who moved to Syracuse ca 343 BCE. He entered the army, rose qickly through the ranks then tried to engineer a coup for which he was banished. He returned with an army of mercenaries and subdued most of Sicily. Then he entered into a series of wars with Carthage. Agothokles was another great tyrant who likened himself to Alexander the Great.

SICILY, Syracuse. Agathokles. 317-289 BC.

AV Drachm – Hemistater ( 4.29 g, ). Struck circa 317-310 BC. Head of Apollo left, wearing laurel wreath;/ Charioteer, holding kentron in extended right hand, reins in left, driving galloping biga right; triskeles below, ΣYP-AK-OΣ-IΩN around. Cf. Bérend, l’or pl. 9, 1; BAR Issue 1; HGC 2, 1276; SNG ANS 551 ; SNG Lloyd 1472–3 ; Dewing 934 ;

An exceptionally attractive style for the issue. Beautiful firm strike.

NGC Graded CH AU Strk 5/5 surf 4/5 Fine Style noted................sold

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
$22,000 reserved

THE FINEST GRADED ELECTRUM STATER OF CARTHAGE - STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL DIES

CARTHAGE. Circa 320-310 BC.

EL Stater (18mm, 7.52 g,). Carthage mint. Wreathed head of Tanit left / Horse standing right; pellet on ground line behind forelegs. Jenkins & Lewis Group IVd, 223 MAA 9

From the earliest electrum issue, in superb style and one of only 2 coins to have been graded CH AU with none higher. (out of 160 graded)

NGC Graded CH AU strk 5/5, surf 4/5 $12,500 reserved


For info, comments, purchase requests contact: Jeff Kahn at Jkahn21@nyc.rr.com
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