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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
73000331
Sale: CNG 73, Lot: 331. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006. 
Sold For $650. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 650-600 BC. EL Hemihekte – 1/12 Stater (1.14 g). Milesian standard. Striated type. Flattened striated surface / Incuse punch. Wiedauer 9; Traité I 13; SNG Kayhan 681. VF.



SECTION INTRO:

Apart from Herodotos (1.94.1), who assigned the origin of gold and silver coinage to the kings of Lydia, the physical evidence does confirm Asia Minor as the place of origin, most likely Lydia or Ionia, and a date somewhere around 650-625 BC. The alloy used, a mixture of gold and silver known to the Greeks as elektron, was based on the natural ore found in nugget form in many river-beds in the region. The earliest coins were of a globular shape and without design in imitation of this natural form; later, simple striated and punched patterns of squares, rectangles, and swastikas were included. The earliest true types may have developed from the use of personal seals, the most widely known being the stater of Ephesos with a stag bearing the inscription “I am a seal of Phanes”. These devices later took on the characteristics of civic symbols, although it would be speculative to link a specific symbol to a particular city in this early period. The most secure form of classification has been by weight standard, based on two major, and several lesser-used, standards. The Milesian standard, with a stater of circa 14 grams, saw circulation in Lydia and parts of Ionia. The Phokaic standard of circa 16 grams was also used in Ionia as well as Mysia. Persic, Aeginetan, and Euboic standards saw scattered use in early coinage, limited in time and extent of circulation. The intrinsic value of the early electrum, even down to the 1/96 stater, was too high for use in everyday commerce, and early coinage must have been used only for the transfer of large sums of money, such as mercantile transactions, payment of government expenses (mercenaries, tribute and such), and donatives, either for services rendered to individuals or the state, or to religious foundations. The Artemision deposits, hoards of early electrum found at the site of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos, are examples of the latter.