Early coinage of Kolophon

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    The city of Kolophon was founded in Ionia by Ionian settlers in the 9th or the 8th century BC, on a very fertile plain watered by numerous streams flowing from five hills that surrounded it. Another advantage of its position was the location on the shortest route connecting Smyrna with Ephesos (only 15 miles/24 kilometer from Kolophon). In the 8th to the 5th century BC Kolophon was already one of the most important cities at the Ionian coast with it's important harbor called Notion.


    The first coinage of Kolophon started around 530 B.C. consisting of only silver fractions: tetartemoria, hemiobols and obols, and in much less amount electron stater fractions. All coinage depict Apollo on the obverse and an incuse square on the reverse. Apollo was important at Kolophon since there was an Greek sanctuary dedicated to Apollo (Klarios) called Klaros 12 kilometers north of Kolophon and only 2 kilometers south of Kolophon's harbor Notion. The sanctuary was a very important center of prophecy just like Didyma and Delphi.

    The first tetartemorion struck at Kolophon:
    Ionia, Kolophon. AR Tetartemorion. Circa 530/25-500 B.C. Persic standard.
    Obverse: Archaic head of Apollo left.
    Reverse: Incuse square punch.
    Reference: Kim & Kroll pp. 84–103; SNG Kayhan 354.
    0.21g; 4.5mm

    At ca. 500 B.C. the city started to redesign their coinage and on the fractions the denomination was written, such as TE for Tetartemoria and HM for Hemiobols. The coinage was still based on the Persic standard (in 546 BC it was conquered by the Persians).
    Also, for the first time a larger denomination, the drachm, was minted at the city, but these must have been struck at small quantities as they are extremely rare on the market today (see a beautiful example sold here). It is worthy to note that all coinage, thus the drachms, hemiobols and tetartemoria now have front-facing portraits of Apollo rather than a sided portrait.

    A tetartemorion struck after the redesign of the coinage ca. 500 B.C.
    Ionia, Kolophon. AR Tetartemorion, circa 500-450 B.C. Persic standard.
    Facing head of Apollo.
    Reverse: Monogram of TE (mark of value) within incuse square.
    Reference: Milne, Colophon, 7. SNG Kayhan 356.
    0.25g; 7mm
    Ex Münzen & Medaillen GmbH 36, 30 May 2012, 412.
    Ex Münzen & Medaillen GmbH 30, 28 May 2009, 476.

    After ca. 450 B.C. there must have been a big demand for larger fractions as drachms were now widely minted at Kolophon. Kolophon was part of the Delian league, and this coincides that in 454 B.C. Athens moved the treasury of the Delian League from Delos to Athens, making Athens technically an 'Empire'. Pericles started to establish kleruchiai in 450 B.C., which were quasi-colonies that remained tied to Athens and which served as garrisons to maintain control of the League's vast territory.
    Kolophon and other member cities had to pay Symmachikos Phoros to Athens. This was basically a 'membership' fee that they had to pay since they were part of the Delian league. Kolophon revolted in 449 B.C. as they did not agree that the treasury was moved and Athens hold so much power, but in 446 B.C. Kolophon was back under Athenian control. I am not surprised these drachms were minted to pay for this 'membership' fee. It is called a 'membership' fee, but to me it is more a tax as Kolophon was a forced and not a voluntarily member of the Delian league during that time.

    The first mass-produced drachm at Kolophon:
    Ionia, Kolophon. AR Drachm, circa 450-410 B.C. Persic standard.
    Laureate head of Apollo to right.
    Reverse: KOΛO-Φ-Ω-N-ION Kithara; all within incuse square.
    Reference: Milne, Colophon 49. Weber 5805.
    5.55g; 15mm

    Other silver fractions were still being minted with the usual mark of value on the reverse. The design of Apollo is now again portraited sideway rather than facing, and also other designs such as the Lyra (a common attribute of Apollo) was now visible on the reverse of the drachms.

    The tetartemorion with the usual design as in 500-450 B.C., but then with Apollo sideways:
    Ionia, Kolophon. AR Tetartemorion, circa 450-410 B.C. Persic standard.
    Laureate head of Apollo to right.
    Reverse: Monogram of TE (mark of value) within square incuse
    Reference: Milne, Colophon, 31. SNG Kayhan 358.
    0.32g; 7mm

    After 410 B.C. Kolophon became free of the Athenians and Kolophon started to mint coinage in many various denominations using classical artistry. The standard went from the Persic standard to the Rhodian as this standard was now widely used in this region of Ionia. The write up stops here however.

    Please share your coins of Kolophon, or from cities part of the Ionian or Delian league. And why also not coins featuring Apollo or a kithara.
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  3. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thanks for the write up, @Pavlos ... great coins!

    I have one of their tets

    Iona Kolophon
    AR Tetartemorion
    530-520 BCE
    Archaic Apollo
    Incuse Punch
    0.15g 4.5mm-
    SNG Kayhan 343
  4. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    No coins to share, but thanks for the interesting read. The west coast of modern Turkey was full of cities like Kolophon.
    Pavlos likes this.
  5. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker Supporter

    Some very attractive coins and a nice write up. Thank you. I always like when people include a map of the locations they're discussing. I think it really helps. I'm pretty sure I have a few small bronzes from Kolophon that I don't have photographs of yet.

    Pavlos likes this.
  6. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Cool coins from a very cool place:wideyed: Thanks for the write up as well:bookworm: Very insightful:pompous:
    I really love the archaic Apolo;
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    We were shown the TE marked tetartemorion. Here is the HM marked hemiobol and a few other variations of the more common, smaller coins.
    g61570bb2254.jpg g61572fd1415.jpg g61573bb2643.jpg g61575fd3349.jpg g61578bb2644.jpg
    I love that cicada tetartemorion.
  8. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great example!

    Thanks for your comment. The west coast of Asia Minor ha a very interesting history with early Greek settlers. Ephesos, Smyrna, Sardis etc, all have a rich history.

    Thanks John, please share your Kolophon bronzes when you have the pictures. Indeed, I always prefer to include a map with my write-ups, sometimes it is difficult to think where an ancient city was on the modern world.

    Great @Ryro! I like your archaic Apollo.

    Great variety of tetartemoria, thanks for sharing Doug! I really like your hemiobol, the portrait is great with an archaic styled portrait, the same style as the extremely rare drachms minted at that time.
    Theodosius, Alegandron and Ryro like this.
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