MA-Shops: The First Coins – Part 2

posted in: Numismatic Topics | 0

MA-Shops: Kingdom Lydia

The first coins were minted from the natural alloy called electrum. Electrum is a natural alloy from gold and silver. Herodotus called it ‘white gold’.1 Because of the varying fines of the metal the coins were later minted in gold and silver.

The iconography of the first coins from Lydia is varied. Most of the time we can see animals or parts of them, like lions, boars, rams, goats, bulls etc., but also mythical animals/figures like griffins and gorgons. Most of the time the reserve has incuse punch marks or it is blank.

The first coins mostly don’t have an inscription. An exception are the lion headed coins with the inscription ‘walwet or kukalim’. This language is called Lydian and the inscription means “I am of Kukaś” or “I belong to Kukaś’’. The exact meaning is unsure and there is some controversy about its specific meaning, I therefore leave this debate undiscussed in this blog and it will return in a blog about inscriptions on ancient coins.

1 It is true that it is a natural alloy but there is serious evidence that the alloy was sometimes manipulated for more constantness. See Konuk, Koray. “Asia Minor to the Ionian Revolt.” The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. : Oxford University Press, 2012

EL Stater 560-546 BC probably time of Croesus

8,000.00 US$

Catalog: Sear 3439 | BMC, Lydia, 183, 2 | cf. Babelon, Traité, Pl.I,19 | Kraay-Hirmer Plate 178, 591 | Principal Coins of the Greeks I.A.
Weight 13,95gr. | Electron Ø 19mm.

obv. Lion reclining left, head reverted, within rectangular
frame divided into smaller rectangular compartments
rev. Central oblong punch, containing three pellets connected in ? 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.

Mitchiner relates the mintage of this cointype to the reign of the Lydian King Croesus (circa 560-546 BC). The Ionian cities were economically important to Lydia as trading intermediaries who provided a commercial outlet to the sea.

The first city he attacked was Ephesos in circa 558 BC, and thereafter he subdued the rest of Ionia. The cities thereafter paid tribute to Croesus but appear to have retained a great deal of autonomy.

Miletos prospered during the time of Croesus and minted a refined and attractive electrum coinage of staters and fractions. The ?reclining lion in oblong frame? characterized the staters, while most fractions bore only the head of the lion.

Silverstater, Lydia 564-546 BC

1,875.00 US$

Catalog: Babelon, Traité 407 SNG Kayhan 1018 The Sunrise Collection

AR 1/2 Stater or Siglos 546-539BC. 

985.00 US$

Catalog: Sng Copenhagen -Sng von Aulock-
Weight: 5.32 g
Diameter: 11.00 mm
obv;Confronted foreparts of lion and bull./rev;Two incuse squares ,side by side. Rare

Written by Joël van Dam, Owner of Joëlnumismatics.

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