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Electrum from Lydia

CNG 91, Lot: 306. Estimate $1500.
Sold for $2200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of LYDIA. Alyattes. Circa 610-560 BC. EL Hekte – Sixth Stater (10mm, 2.35 g). Sardes mint. Lion head right, sun with four rays on forehead / Two incuse square punches. Weidauer Group XV, 76-8; Traité I –; SNG Kayhan –; Boston MFA 1769 = Warren 1718. Good VF, light scuffs on reverse. Rare.

The Kingdom of Lydia, under the Mermnad dynasty, may well have been the originator of Western coinage. It possessed rich deposits of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver, which was the only metal used for coin production in its earliest stages. The lion head/incuse coinage is the earliest coinage attributed to the kingdom, and its origins date to the time of the king Alyattes, who ruled circa 610-560 BC. While most of these coins are anepigraphic, a small number of them bear the inscription ‘Walwel’ and ‘Kukalim’ in Lydian. Although these have been variably attributed to other rulers in the past, hoard studies have shown that they were, in fact, contemporary with the anepigraphic issues.