625 - 600 bce electrum for the use of artemis
2018 sold for $ 120k including premium
Electrum is known since the earliest Egyptian dynasties. This natural alloy of gold and silver is harder than pure gold. It was abundant in Ionia at that time when metal separation techniques were not yet developed. The first electrum coins precede by more than a century the wealth of Croesus based on the electrum of the Paktolos river.
The standard is the stater whose weight varies according to the metal. The divisions were practiced from the beginning, with a great accuracy. The most popular for the electrum coin was the trite worth one-third of a stater. The electrum stater weighing around 14 g was rarer. The first use of such coins was probably a votive tax.
Ephesus is one of the earliest users of a coinage. Archaic coins date from the period of an ancient Temple of Artemis destroyed by water, fire or war during the 7th century BCE, nearly a century before the construction of the famous temple which was listed as one of the seven wonders of the world.
An oval shaped electrum stater issued around 625-600 BCE displays a tall stag walking head down for grazing. This animal is along with the bee one of the main ancient symbols of the goddess Artemis. Comparisons of style and of punches ensure that it was made in Ephesus or for the use of Ephesus.
This stater is the earliest known coin model in history bearing an inscription. In a paleo-Greek script throughout the length above the stag, it is in inverted writing : the primitive engraver had not been able to overcome the fact that the image of the coin is necessarily inverted from that of the mold.
It is inscribed ΦΑΝΟΣ EMI ΣEIMA. meaning "I am the badge of Phanes". This name has not been decoded : it can be that of the donor, the engraver, the assayer or the nickname of a deity. Linguists must consider that there is a trite from the same series, with the animal in the same attitude, where the inscription reduced to only the name is not ΦΑΝΟΣ but ΦΑNEΟΣ.
Two staters of Phanes are kept in public collections. Three others were auctioned : for CHF 480K by Tkalec in February 2000, for € 345K including premium by Gorny und Mosch on March 8, 2010, for € 280K before fees by Numismatik Lanz on June 5, 2014. Another unit graded very fine by NGC is estimated $ 200K for sale by Heritage in New York on January 8, lot 32049.
465 bce the wealth of cimon
2019 sold for $ 525k before fees
The most prestigious edition is a decadrachm 3 cm in diameter weighing about 44 g. The increased surface enables figures of great beauty. On this denomination only, the owl is not shown in profile but in front with wings spread in sign of victory and a hypnotist gaze in its proudly straight head. Considering the dates of the hoards, this coin was minted around 465 BCE.
The great wealth of Athens was traditionally based on the Laurion silver mines. A little later Herodotus will tell that a surplus of exploitation has once been shared between the citizens.
Cimon's military success adds to the opulence. The booty taken from the Persians after the naval battle of Eurymedon circa 467 BCE is considerable. The capture of the island of Thasos in 463 BCE gives Athens the control of other important silver mines. Cimon was famous for his wealth, magnificence and practice of sharing. The circumstances of the creation of the decadrachm and its mode of use are however not known.
An Athens decadrachm was sold for $ 500K before fees by CNG (Classical Numismatic Group) on January 8-9, 2007. It comes back in the same auction house in New York on January 8, lot 211 estimated $ 500K, here also linked on The Saleroom bidding platform.
This coin is splendid by its surface condition, its perfect centering and the sharpness of its strike. The image is shared by Wikimedia with an attribution to CNG linked to the 2007 catalog http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5]
325 bce alexander and the nemean lion
The conqueror is loved by his troops. It is easy to understand why: he has no difficulty to pay them. The production of drachms and tetradrachms is operating at full capacity in Ecbatana and Babylon. A soldier earns about 1 drachm per day. The premium granted to a man retiring to Greece is 6,000 drachms.
The highest denomination of silver coinage is the decadrachm whose use was probably limited to presentation coins. The high relief decadrachm with the effigy of Hercules could date from the later years of Alexander's reign between 325BC and 323BC although a posthumous strike cannot be excluded.
On one side, the head of Hercules in close view bears as headdress the skin of the Nemean lion. This is the very artistic portrait of a young man, which is surprising in the iconography of Hercules. The engraver had paid attention to the young age of Alexander and also tricked Hercules with the anastole, the hair swept back from the parting in the center in the fashion of his king.
The other side is inscribed with the name of Alexander, AΛEΞANΔPOY, and shows Zeus sitting on a throne and holding the eagle at the end of his extended arm.
This large coin 35 mm in diameter is extremely rare although the discovery of a hoard of early Seleucid period in 1973 increased its population to nearly 20 units.
One of them weighing 41.98 g was sold for € 325K before fees by Art Coins Roma on 3 February 2014. It is considered by the catalog of the sale as the finest example. Another one weighing 42.28 g and coming from the 1973 hoard was sold for $ 250K before fees by Baldwin's on January 4, 2012.
Another example weighing 41.22 g is estimated $ 200K for sale byHeritage in New York on January 4, lot 31020.
42 bce The Denarius of a Traitor
2011 SOLD 546 K$ including premium
On the Ides of March in the year 709 of the Roman calendar, the dying Caesar said to Brutus: "καὶ σύ, τέκνον" (tu quoque, mi fili).
The presence of Brutus among the conspirators was not an accident. The ambitious republican would appear as a tyrannicide hero and seize power. Supporters of the assassinated dictator were the strongest, however, and Brutus had to flee to Greece.
Until his final defeat two years later at the battle of Philippi, Brutus maintained the illusion of his political role. Like so many usurpers in the Roman history, he made a mint.
A silver denarius of Brutus is for sale on September 7 by Heritage at Long Beach. It is shown in the press release ofthe auction house, and in both sides on the article shared by CoinWeek.
The effigy of the usurper is fine, as in most Roman coins. The reverse is the unique activist image of a liberty cap between two daggers. The inscription in six letters, EID-MAR, is pathetically dating the day of glory on which Brutus thought he could build a legitimacy.
This stunning coin is estimated $ 500K.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is a dream coin for any numismatist. It was sold $ 546K including premium.
27 BCE Augustus and the Heifer
2014 SOLD for £ 480K including premium
Octavian is the winner, after 13 years of civil war. He understood that, in order to maintain his dominance, he must be respected as a demi-god or even more. Before the decisive battle of Actium, he promised to open a temple. His choice was to honor the most beautiful of the gods, Apollo.
Three years after Actium, Octavian inaugurates the temple of Apollo Palatinus on a place marked by lightning. This political act is extremely important because it includes the transfer of the Sibylline Books from the Capitoline temple of Jupiter. Military winner, Octavian also perfectly knew how to use the traditional Roman superstitions.
In the following year, 726 from the founding of Rome, he becomes Augustus Caesar, which means the sacred emperor entitled to make oracles and the absolute master of political power.
In the sale of 22 and 23 September in London, Dix Noonan Webb offers an aureus of Augustus Caesar, whose figures tend to show that it was made in the very first years of the Roman Empire.
It is inscribed 'Caesar' on one side with the portrait of the leader that lost the realistic hardness of the Republican era to provide an idealization inspired by Apollo. His beauty remains plausible for a man who was not yet 40 years old.
It is inscribed 'Augustus' on the reverse side with a heifer lowering the spine, which is not a symbol of virginity but of sacrifice. This image is directly inspired by four statues from the old Greek sculptor Myron of Eleutherae that were adorning the altar of Apollo Palatinus. Both sides thus show a tight link between the two imperial arts, sculpture and coinage.
Several variants of this aureus exist, with laureate or bare head, head to the left or to the right, beast going left or right. This series of variants that were probably struck together is certainly designed for some interpretation of auspices. Three combinations have never been seen. The coin for sale is unique, with the laureate head to the right and the heifer to the left.
In very fine condition, it is estimated in excess of £ 300K. Both sides are shown in the post shared by Numismatic News.
5 BCE - 33 ce a vertical of shekels
The weakening of the Seleucids brought to Tyre an almost total autonomy. The city's calendar started with this event, 126 years before the origin of our current calendar. The transformation of the area into a Roman province 62 years later did not modify the autonomy of the city. Their currency was made of silver shekels and half shekels.
For the pleasure of the numismatists of our time, the shekels of Tyre are dated and bear monograms that certainly relate to the production workshop and office.
For almost two centuries, the shekels of Tyre maintained a great regularity in size (about 25 mm), weight (around 14 g) and figures (on one side the laureate bust of the Phoenician hero Melqart, on the other side a standing eagle). This exceptional reliability allowed the shekels of Tyre to become the reference currency in Palestine, including Judaea.
An expert built a collection of shekels of Tyre with one coin per year covering the traditional period of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, between 122 and 159 of the calendar of Tyre. These 38 pieces are sold as one lot by Heritage in New York on January 5, lot 30932 with a reserve amount of $ 125K before fees.
69 the new shekel of the zealots
The Zealot power is centered on the immense fortress building of the Temple in which the stocks of silver enable to create and maintain a mint. The new reference is a shekel of Israel 25 mm in diameter and around 14 g providing a successor to the shekel of Tyre whose production had just been stopped. Half and quarter shekels are also released.
A shekel dated year 1 that was sold for $ 1.1M including premium by Heritage on March 8, 2012 was perhaps a prototype of the installation phase of the revolutionary production. A quarter shekel from same year was sold for $ 900K including premium in the same sale.
On August 3 in Denver, Heritage sells a quarter shekel dated year 4, lot 30096 estimated $ 350K. This emission of 15 mm and about 3 g has a new simple and pleasant design, with on one side a sheaf of three branches of palm and on the other side a wreath of palms. The coin for sale has a sharp strike and is very well centered. Three other units are known.
The beginning of that new year, 69 of current era, is critical in Jerusalem with both a civil war between the Jewish factions and the new campaign of the Roman army led by Vespasian. This emission is probably the very last quarter shekel of the Zealots.
In the following year the Romans would take Jerusalem and destroy the city and the Temple. The victorious general was Titus, son of Vespasian and future emperor. An 18 mm aureus produced to honor this success was sold for $ 960K including premium on March 9, 2012, also by Heritage.
136 As Nice as a Mint Aureus
2009 SOLD 103 K$ including premium
Can you imagine an uncirculated gold coin from the time of the Roman Empire? Such wonders are still on the market, and Heritage Auction Galleries offers two of them in its Dallas sale on January 4.
The Romans designed their coins to the very realistic effigy of the emperors (specifically named Augustus), their designated successor (Caesar) or the empress. Both copies have this characteristics, of course.
The most interesting for a greenhorn is the least expensive of the two. It represents Lucius Verus, who was augustus jointly with Marcus Aurelius from 913 to 921 AUC (Ab Urbe Condita). He distinguished himself in military campaigns, and his coinage is not uncommon. But this one, lot 20,084, has the advantage of being Fleur-de-Coin. This French term that the auction house did not translate indicate that it was produced when its tools were still new. Perfect from the origin and still uncirculated 1840 years after its issue, it is one of the finest examples to be found to judge the quality of Roman coins. It is estimated $ 10 K.
The other mint aureus at lot 20,077, estimated $ 40 K, is a rare coin that shall more excite the numismatists than the historians. When Hadrian promoted a senator in 888 AUC under the name Aelius Caesar, the Romans gossiped into a possible illegitimate son of the emperor. His career did not go far because he died in January 890 AUC, a few months before the old emperor that this inglorious episode had made invisus omnibus, which means hated by all. Aelius was the father of Verus.
POST SALE COMMENT
Two good results, to start the year:
$ 18.5 K premium included for Lucius Verus, and $ 103 K premium included for Aelius Caesar.
The rarer character got the best price of these two coins which were very similar in their other characteristics.
226 the nymphaeum of alexander
2017 SOLD for CHF 400K before fees
After the murder of Elagabalus in 222, all hopes are put in his successor Severus Alexander aged 14. His advisers are jurists. This designation of Severus is not dynastic. It is rather an encouragement to deploy a strength of character that the young man will never have.
Severus Alexander began his reign as a great builder. He enlarged the Baths of Nero, starting by adding in 226 the Nymphaeum Divi Alexandri whose castellum still exists today. According to a common practice in that time, the nymphaeum is a pool created to shelter and honor the nymphs and flanked by a multi-leveled building that can serve as a triumphal arch.
On October 24 in Zurich, NAC (Numismatica Ars Classica) sells an aureus of Severus Alexander, lot 543 estimated CHF 275K here linked on the auction platform Sixbid. The strike is deep and sharp and the condition is great.
The portrait in a realistic profile shows a young man with a small beard. The head is laureate and the bust is draped and cuirassed. The reverse is a view of the new monument and its semicircular pool, with arches, statues of victories and the quadriga of the emperor.
This model was issued in 226 or soon after. The emperor had not yet shown his military incompetence. Only one other example is known. This rarity could be explained by a return of some coins in the workshop to replace the nymphaeum by the baths when the tribute to this weak emperor became politically incorrect. Severus Alexander was assassinated in a coup after thirteen years of reign.
691 Heraclius Dechristianised
2012 SOLD 110 K£ before fees
Muslims were at war against Heraclius, of course, but they were also fine strategists who appreciated the crusades ofthe emperor against their common enemies, the Persians.
Theocratic emperor, Heraclius had incurred the hostility of the top Christian clergy by an incestuous marriage.Theologian, he had tried to reconcile Christian heretics instead of fighting them. Muslims soon recuperated theirformer adversary as a hero.
On April 25 in London, Baldwin's sells an Islamic gold coin dated 72AH (691AD), exactly fifty years after the death of Heraclius.
On both sides, it is a copy of one of the last solidus of the emperor. On one side he is seen with his two sons, but the orb of the cross that was originally held by each character has been deleted. On the other side, the cross of Christ has lost its horizontal branch (though Heraclius had lived one century before iconoclasm, the body of Christ is not shown on his coins).
This Islamic coin has another outstanding feature: it is the earliest gold coin that contains the Kalima, the creed thatGod is one and Muhammad is his prophet.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting witness of the relationship between two civilizations was sold £ 110K before fees.
696 The Umayyad Reform
2014 SOLD 135 K£ before fees
The fifth Umayyad caliph, Abd al-Malik, made a monetary reform that was very bold for its time.
In 72AH (691AD), he made inscribed the Kalima in Arab characters on a gold coin of Heraclius. Kalima is the profession of faith that God is one and Muhammad is his prophet. An example of this edition was sold for £ 110K before fees by Baldwin's on April 25, 2012.
The next step is the withdrawal of the figures, only leaving an Arabic text on both sides of the coin. After a few years of pattern testing, the first regular gold dinar meeting this new design is released in 77AH (696/697AD) and the first silver dirham in 79AH.
An example of the first gold dinar in very fine condition is estimated £ 150K for sale by Baldwin's in London on August 6. Both sides are illustrated on the release shared by AuctionPublicity.
This monetary reform was a lasting success. The inscription limited its use to the Muslim world but also showed the will of the Caliph to overcome the imperial authority. Byzantium did not like it at all but failed to oppose this remarkable initiative.
The disappearance of the figures anticipated and perhaps inspired the great Christian iconoclast crisis four decades later.
POST SALE COMMENT
Here is the result caught during the sale on the platform the-saleroom.com : £ 135K before fees.
710 The Apex of the Umayyads
Within one century after the Prophet, the Muslim world has undergone its tremendous territorial expansion. The sixth Umayyad Caliph, al-Walid, reigned only 10 years from 86AH to 96AH but his conquests extend from Spain to Western India and also include North Africa.
Al-Walid was renowned for his piety. Gold dinars dated from 89AH to 92AH with a text locating their origin to the Mine of the Commander of the Faithful are almost sacred pieces.
It has been suggested that these extremely rare coins were minted in Hijaz during pilgrimages of the caliph. This hypothesis is far from proven. Coin making is a rather urban industry, and it was certainly less risky to transfer bullion than to carry already produced coins.
The coinages of the Mine of the Commander of the Faithful have a similarity between them throughout their four years of production. The lack of wear on the obverse die suggests that they were sparingly issued for presentation use.
Whatever the reason for their creation, they have become the most prestigious coins in the history of Islam. Morton and Eden sold a 89AH coin for £ 940K including premium on 23 April 2012 and a 92AH coin for £ 650K including premium on 4 April 2011.
The offering at auction of a coin dated 91AH, 710 in our calendar, is unprecedented. It is estimated £ 300K for sale inLondon on April 10 by Morton and Eden. It is illustrated on the release shared by UKauctionnews.
The hypothesis of a mystical or liturgical origin of the coins from the Mine of the Commander of the Faithful is reinforced by the later issue dated 105AH, i.e. after a lapse of thirteen years. Two coins have been recently sold at auction : £ 3.7 million including premium by Morton and Eden on April 4, 2011 and £ 790K including premium by Baldwin's on December 6, 2012.
1257 the failure of the gold penny
Other European countries want to follow the success of the florin. In England gold reserves begin to accumulate. In 1257 King Henry III commissions his goldsmith William of Gloucester to create a gold penny of 45 grains with an official value of 20 pence.
Arithmetic did not adjust : the gold penny was deliberately undervalued by about 20%. The London merchants represented by the Lord Mayor formally challenged this scam that devalued their silver money. Henry III was unpopular. His Lusignan advisers were hated. His foreign policy was indecisive and expensive. He had no choice but to give up. The acceptance of a gold penny by a creditor ceased to be mandatory only a few months after its launch.
The following year is much worse, with catastrophic harvests. The coup of Simon de Montfort puts an end to the government of this incompetent king. This totally failed first experiment for an English gold-silver bimetallism falls into complete oblivion after a few years.
Most of these gold penny coins, heavier than their official value and no more supported by the government, were very early melted. Eight pieces survived. One of them close to perfection, graded MS63 by NGC, is estimated $ 250K for sale by Heritage in New York on January 8, lot 32241.
Happy Tuesday Twitter friends ~ We hope your 2018 is off to a good start. If you are a collector of coins, there's quite a few 'pretty pennies' or more accurately, rare pennies, up for bid this month through Heritage Auctions. Learn more: https://t.co/FtYfSzxTQL pic.twitter.com/f74NwWRDaG— Antique Trader (@AntiqueTrader) January 2, 2018
1538 the coinage of the new world
2014 sold for $ 590k including premium
The legendary silver coin of 8 reales was documented but nobody saw it until three units were found in the early 1990s in a shipwreck that occurred circa 1550.
This coin was a failure. Too difficult to manufacture, the 8 reales was stopped after a few weeks and had never been released to circulation. We know now that there was no other pieces from that coinage in the wreck and it is assumed that these coins were specimens sent to the Spanish imperial court.
They are indeed awkward with an irregular outline and traces of double strike. The engraving was however ambitious, with a beautiful coat of arms and the identification of the monarchs, Emperor Charles V and his mother Joan the Mad.
Importantly, the reverse bears the image of the Pillars of Hercules, symbol of the conquerors departing towards the immense ocean. Behind the columns, an oblique banner displays a part of the imperial motto. Later this banner will wrap the pillars, shaping the dollar sign as it is still used today.
Two of the three coins are in very good condition, having escaped corrosion despite the shipwreck. One of them is estimated over $ 500K, for sale in Orlando on November 6 by Daniel Frank Sedwick, lot 404 shared here on the Sixbid bidding platform. Sedwick specializes in the auction of numismatic treasures from shipwrecks.
This coin was also illustrated before sale by Artdaily.
1538 Beyond the Pillars of Hercules
2018 sold for $ 530k including premium
Mendoza succeeds in this task perfectly. The first production line of Mexican coins is installed in the private residence of Cortes in 1536. The first denomination is 3 reales. In the following year an imperial decree replaces this first coinage with two denominations, 8 reales and 4 reales. 8 reales is the standard of the large Spanish silver coin created in 1497, which will become the model of the US dollar.
Due to a suspicion of fraud, the imperial administration audits the Mexican currency in 1545. In 1947 a scholar studies the interviews of this investigation. In compliance to the decree, a production of the 8 reales had been tried. It was soon abandoned because it was too difficult to achieve with the rudimentary equipment installed in Mexico City.
Historians are delighted but numismatists are frustrated : in 1947, nobody had ever seen such an 8 reales coin. At the beginning of the 1990s, a search in a shipwreck brought back a treasure chest containing 2000 silver coins, including three of these legendary pieces.
The drawing of this coin displays the Pillars of Hercules linked by a banner with the word PLUS, a summary of Charles V's motto indicating that the Strait of Gibraltar is no longer a limit for the imperial ambitions. The inscription Hispanie and Indiarum Re qualifying Charles and his mother Joanna leaves no doubt about this interpretation. This figure is at the origin of the modern sign of the dollar ($) according to the most probable hypothesis.
The coins have an irregular outline and a double hammering, confirming the difficulty of manufacture. They have the mark of the assayer R (Rincon), active from 1536 to 1538, replaced in the following year by the assayer P.
The three Mexican coins found in the wreck thus become the oldest American precursors of the US dollar. They are separated. The first auctions are organized too early, without the collectors being convinced about the real progress of the wreck inventory. In fact no other coin of 8 reales has surfaced.
The three units were graded by NGC. The best, AU-50, was sold for $ 374K including premium by Heritage on January 9, 2006. It is estimated $ 500K for sale by Heritage in Philadelphia on August 17, lot 30386. The coin graded EF-40 was sold for $ 310K including premium by Goldberg on May 26, 2008. The XF-45 was sold for $ 590K including premium by Sedwick on November 6, 2014.
Heritage Auction’s World and Ancient Coin Platinum Night at the August American Numismatic Association convention will feature “The First Dollar of the Americas,” a hammered Mexico City-minted Carlos and Joanna 8 reales of 1538. https://t.co/Ftn7HfW6ZY pic.twitter.com/a5oU1bphsC— Krause Publications (@KPNumismatics) June 29, 2018
1652 The Cradle of American Liberty
2010 SOLD 420 K$ including premium
In 1652, 23 years after the incorporation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Boston is already trying to demarcate from the colonial authority by authorizing the establishment of a silver mint.
Three values are created: 3 pence, 6 pence and 12 pence, the latter value corresponding to 1 shilling. In the first issue, the design is simplified to the extreme: on one side the value in Roman figures (III, VI or XII), on the other side the letters NE.
NE means New England, of course. Since 1643, four colonies (Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven) tried to unite their forces in the New England Confederation.
On August 11, a NE shilling graded AU50 by PCGS comes back to Boston to be sold by Heritage Auction Galleries, lot 3002.
This NE design was too simple and attracted counterfeits. It was immediately replaced by a model illustrated by a willow, which in turn will be replaced by an oak (1660) and a pine (from 1667 to 1682). Some inscriptions appear: the colonial origin (Masathusets, according to the spelling of the time) and the starting date of the mint (1652).
1652 on these coins would not indicate the date of melting. Only the first undated NE coins can be assigned with certainty to that year.
A piece of each of the three trees is listed in the same sale.
POST SALE COMMENT
This set was exceptional, and the four bids deserve to be kept in memory. Prices below include fees.
The coin of 1652, principal subject of the article above, was sold 420 K $. The three trees were sold respectively 230 K $ (willow), 161 K $ (oak), $ 92 K (pine).
Total of the four shillings: $ 800K. Excellent result.