Greek coins are available for every budget
By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
As we saw in the last column, ancient Roman coins offer some unexpected opportunities for collectors at most every level of budget. This month we’ll focus on similar bargains available in the field of ancient Greek coins, many of which are available for $100 or less.
Just as last time, we’ll start with group lots offered at auction, which can be an excellent way to add to your collection at a low average price. Here are four examples from recent online auctions.
Shown above is an interesting mix of Greek silver and copper coins from independent cities and kingdoms in Asia Minor. Most of the lot’s 16 coins are shown in the photo. It sold for about $225 USD – only $14 per coin.
This group of Greek silver fractions includes a variety of types. Most were struck at mints in Western Asia Minor during the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. The lot sold for just over $300, making it an average of about $24 per coin.
Five square bronzes from Eastern Greek and Central Asian kingdoms were offered in the lot shown above. It realized about $175, breaking down to about $35 per coin.
The condition of the six large Greek coins shown above – five being silver, one being billon – is not high, but neither was their price. The lot sold for a touch more than $350, making it about $60 per coin. To most collectors, this would represent excellent value for large ancient Greek silver coins.
Thankfully, not all budget-priced ancients come in large lots. Below are some excellent examples of interesting and historical Greek coins and the prices they realized.
This silver tetrobol of the Chalcidian League, issued at Olynthus in Macedon, c.432-348 BCE, shows the head of the god Apollo and a cithara, a musical instrument. It realized the appropriate price of about $65.
This silver triobol (or hemidrachm) of Sicyon, a city at the junction of the Greek mainland and the Peloponnesus, was issued between c.350 and 280 BCE. It shows a dove and a mythical beast, the Chimaera. Because of its modest condition, it fetched about $70.
, who from 275 to 215 BCE ruled Syracuse
and all of its territories in Sicily
, issued this attractive copper hemilitron
. It shows the goddess Kore
and a butting bull, and realized about $70.
An uncertain king of the Phoenician
city of Aradus
struck this silver one-twelfth shekel
early in the fourth century BCE. It retains its original, dark patina and depicts the head of the god Ba’al-Arwad
and a galley. Like the two coins shown previously, it brought about $70.
A helmeted portrait of the goddess Athena
is paired with a vigorous scene of the hero Heracles
wrestling the Nemean Lion
on this silver diobol
, an important city in southern Italy
. An excellent work of art, it realized about $75.
The forepart of a lion with its head reverted is paired with a stellate pattern on this silver obol
. It is an early Greek coin, having been struck between the late sixth and the early fifth centuries BCE. It realized approximately $65.
A standing goose, which looks back over its shoulder, graces the obverse of this silver diobol of the Macedonian city of Eion
. It sold for less than $90.
Struck on behalf of the famous Macedonian king Alexander III ‘the Great’
(336-323 BCE) near the end of his lifetime, this silver drachm
portrays Heracles and shows the god Zeus
seated. It sold for almost exactly $100.
A decidedly proud bull stands with a foreleg raised on this silver half siglos
struck c.350-300 BCE at Byzantium
, a Greek city at the entrance to the Black Sea
. It realized about $70.
Struck sometime between the third and the first centuries BCE at the city of Dyrrhachium, on the northwest coast of Greece, this silver drachm shows a cow suckling her calf. The reverse shows a ‘double stellate’ pattern, which has invited many suggestions for what it represents. The coin brought slightly more than $75.
A distinctly shaped shield and a wine cup called a cantharus
appear on this silver hemidrachm of c.425-375 BCE, struck at the city of Boeotia
in central Greece. It realized about $70.
We’ll end the survey with another readily available ancient Greek silver coin: a tetrobol of Histiaea, a city on the island of Euboea, which hugs the eastern coast of mainland Greece not far from Athens. It features the portrait of a nymph and a scene of a nymph seated on the prow of a galley. Attractive though it is, it realized a touch more than $75.
Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group (CNG)