First Cistophoric Tetradrachm and First Keeper

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Obone, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Obone

    Obone Well-Known Member

    I'm a small time dealer, which means very rarely do I keep coins for myself and my own collection. I think this is the first coin that I have really decided to add to my collection (I had a set of Indian Zodiac Rupees, but I sold those when I got an offer I couldn't refuse).

    This hadrian Cistophorus came as part of a lot I got in June, posted about in the other thread "Post a coin you are waiting on". I was originally planning on selling this tetradrachm, but after seeing it in hand, I simply had to add to my collection. The well documented pedigree only adds to the appeal for me, it feels like I'm the newest custodian in a history of owners.

    Post your well pedigreed coins, coins from lots, cistophoric tetradrachms or anything you like! :)

    Poor images for now, it doesn't quite capture the toning and the nice color of this coin. Hopefully will get a chance to photograph properly in the coming days.

    Hadrian Cistophorus Tetradrachm Final.jpg
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  3. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It's beautiful. What makes it a "cistophoric" tetradrachm? I thought that by definition all of those -- including the ones minted under the Empire, with an Emperor's portrait on the obverse -- had a cista mystica, snakes, etc., on at least one side?
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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  4. Obone

    Obone Well-Known Member

    I think cistophorus and cistophoric tetradrachm mean the same thing, but I don't think they need to have snakes. I know a lot of types have temples on the reverse, and I know of at last one type depicting Claudius on one side and Agrippina on the other. I believe the cistophoric tetradrachms you're referring to are the ones from Ionia.
  5. Obone

    Obone Well-Known Member

    20200702_220232.jpg 20200702_220242.jpg
    Coincidentally this was in the lot as well. Cistophoric Tetradrachm from Ionia, Ephesus.
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  6. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Obone your second cistophorus is from the mint of Pergamon. Tetradrachm of Ephesos 88-87 B.C. Kleiner 48 12.66 grms 28 mm Photo by W. Hansen cistopephesus10.jpeg
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  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    And (at least) from Lydia (which was directly east of Ionia), as in this coin I purchased not long ago:

    Lydia, Tralleis/Tralles, AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm, 125/124 or 120/119 BCE , Ptol-, Magistrate. Obv. Cista mystica with lid ajar and serpent emerging; all within ivy wreath / Rev. Bowcase (gorytos) with two serpents (one to left and one to right, heads at top); H [= date = Year 8 = 125/124 or 120/119 BCE] over ΠTOΛ [PTOL] above, between serpents’ heads; TPAΛ [TRAL] in left field; to right, Dionysus in short chiton standing facing, head left, holding thyrsos in right hand and mask of Silenos in left hand. SNG Copenhagen 662-663 var. [different year] [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Part 28, Lydia Part 2 (Copenhagen 1947)]; BMC 22 Lydia 48 (p. 333) var. [different year] [B.V. Head, A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 22, Lydia (London, 1901); SNG von Aulock 3262-3264 var. [different year] [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 2: Caria, Lydia, Phrygia, Lycia, Pamphylia (Berlin, 1962)]; Pinder 159 [same year -- “H”]; see also id. 157-158 [different years] [M. Pinder, Über die Cistophoren und über die kaiserlichen Silbermedaillons der Römischen Provinz Asien (Berlin, 1856) at pp. 565-566]. 24 mm., 12.64 g. [= 3 drachms, not 4], 1 h. Ex: CNG Auction 225 (13 Jan. 2010), Lot 144.

    Lydia, Tralleis. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm. jpg version.jpg
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  8. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    This provenance was an accidental find but a very good one. I think I paid all of $25 for the coin and then found the provenance by accident while looking for another coin some months later:
    Roman Republic Æ Semis(14.33g, 21mm, 2h), Anonymous("MAT" series), 179-170 BC. Laureate head of Saturn right; behind, S/Prow right; above, MAT monogram; before, S; below, ROMA. Crawford 162/4

    Ex AnYangMan, CoinTalk, 5/6/2019, ex Karel de Geus auction 46, 29-30 October 2018, lot 2201(part), ex Rob Rueb Collection(d. 1987), ex Edward A Sydenham collection, Rodolfo Ratto 7 February 1928, lot 561
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  9. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Very nice coin and truly is a keeper @Obone.
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  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I'm with DonnaML on this one. Dealers and students apply names like Cistophoric to make them sound better. The coin is a tetradrachm and a very nice one. It followed the issues of tetradrachms that did have the chest of snakes and were called tetradrachms even though their weight was three drachms by previous standards. It may be a fine line but I question whether we need to call the issues 'chest bearing' just because it was the lighter standard. These are terms imposed by previous students. Are there records that suggest the term was used in the time the coins were current?

    There will always be a question of how one person can be a dealer and a collector without doing a disservice to his customers or to himself. It is asking too much not to allow a dealer to have coins of his own but I would prefer a dealer who was not competing with me for the coins I want and was only willing to sell his castoffs. I am a collector. I resell coins I do not want (mistakes, duplicates and changes in my view of things) and have trouble telling other people that they should want what I don't. I could not be a dealer; it would ruin my hobby.
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  11. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    @Obone whatever it should be called that coin is superb! I can see why you had to have it. Congrats!

    I have one Cistophorus. Rare for Titus. The Domitian type with this reverse is quite common.

    T516 Heritage.jpeg
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  12. Alegandron

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

    I have a few coins that have a good pedigree. Many of other CT members have several well pedigreed coins. Cool stuff.

    Here is one of mine that I like for their pedigree, but above all, I like these coins for their incredible histories. Elvira Clain-Stefanelli is an incredible person with her contribution of her career at the Smithsonian's Ancients area for 40 years. I have several of her coins, some of which very few are known.

    Here is one that I acquired from her collection:

    Carthaginians in Sicily and North Africa,
    Uncertain Sicilian mint
    AR Litra
    4th Century BCE,
    AR 9.5mm., 0.65g.
    Palm tree.
    Rev. Head of horse r.
    SNG Copenhagen (Africa) 74. Jenkins, Punic, Part 2, p. 31 and pl. 6, C.
    Rare. Nice old cabinet tone, Good Very Fine.
    From the E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection


    ANS Executive Director Ute Wartenburg reported that
    Elvira Eliza Clain-Stefanelli died Oct. 1, 2001 of cardiac
    arrest. Mrs. Stefanelli retired in 2000 as the Senior
    Curator of the National Numismatic Collection in the
    Numismatics Division of the National Museum of
    American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington,

    She was at the Smithsonian for forty years, and was
    responsible with her husband Vladimir for organizing and
    building up the National Numismatic Collection. She
    survived a Nazi concentration camp in WWII Europe,
    moved to Rome, and learned numismatics there. In New
    York she and her husband worked for Stack's and started
    the Coin Galleries division there.

    Her most recent publication was "Life In Republican Rome
    On its Coinage", a lavishly illustrated discussion of the
    themes which appear on the coinage of the Roman Republic,
    published in 1999. Her major contribution to the science of
    numismatic literature was her classic "Numismatic Bibliography",
    published in 1985.
    Elvira E. Clain-Stefanelli (1914-2001) and her husband Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli (1914-1982) were academic numismatic historians and later numismatic authors and curators. They pursued their interest in ancient coinage of the Black Sea region and U.S. medals as a team, serving together as members of the American Numismatic Society and numerous other national and international numismatic organizations. Vladimir became an ANS Associate in 1951 and a Fellow in 1957; Elvira became a Fellow in 1963. The two were frequent visitors to the Society when they worked for Hesperia Art Galleries and then Stack’s in the 1950s. In 1956 Vladimir became curator of the Smithsonian's Division of Numismatics; a year later, Elvira joined him as Assistant Curator. Together, they built the National Numismatic Collection from approximately 60,000 specimens in 1956 to almost one million objects. Two years after Vladimir's death in 1982, Elvira became the department's first executive director, holding that position until her retirement in 2000.
    Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli (born Waldemar Günther Klein, but later changing the spelling of his surname to Clain and adding Stefanelli, his mother's maiden name) was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, Austria (now part of the Ukraine and Romania). Vladimir was initially a well-known specialist of Eastern European coinage, in particular of his native Romania. He also specialized in historical documentation of United States coinages as well as coinages of Greek colonies and southeast European issues of the 15th and 16th centuries. Vladimir received a B.A. and M.A. in 1936, and Ph.D. in 1938 from the University of King Carol II in Austria. His 1938 doctoral dissertation, concerning the ancient coinage of Callatis, is included in the collection. Vladimir married the former Elvira Eliza Olinescu on January 3, 1939. After WW II, the couple moved to Italy where they worked for the P&P Santamaria firm. They moved to the United States in 1951, where they would live out the remainder of their lives.
    Elvira E. Clain-Stefanelli was born in Bucharest, Romania. She received a degree in history from Franz Josef University in 1936 and later an M.A. in history from the University of Cernauti in Romania. Working with her husband after his appointment as manager of Stack's Coin Galleries subsidiary in 1954, Elvira wrote their first sales catalog. She joined the Smithsonian staff in 1957. In 1973 Elvira, along with her husband, received the Smithsonian Gold Medal for Exceptional Service. In 1996, she received the ANA's Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service. During her numismatic career, Elvira was advisor to the U.S. Mint, the Department of Treasury, and many boards, committees, and associations.
    Together or separately, Elvira and Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli wrote and published many important works including: Monetary history and medallic art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C (Numisma, año) (1965); History of the National Numismatic Collections (1968); La monnaie: trésor d’art (1971); Medals Commemorating Battles of the American Revolution (1973); The Beauty and Lore of Coins Currency and Medals (1974); Chartered for Progress, Two Centuries of American Banking: A Pictorial Essay(1975); Muenzen der Neuzeit (1978); Numismatic Bibliography (1984); Life in Republican Rome (1999).
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  13. Alegandron

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


    Mysia, Pergamum (Pergamon) 85-76 BC
    Cista Mystica or Cistophoric Tetradrachm
    AR Tetradrachm 12.46 x 26 mm
    Obverse: Cista mystica with serpent; all within oak / ivy wreath
    Reverse: bow-case with serpents, PRE monogram to left, KP / PRY monogram above, serpent-staff right.
    Ref: Kleiner 36

    My recollections from Harl were that earlier issues of the Cisto to Denarius were 1:3, especially through Republican Rome and early principate. Later, when they devalued the Denarius, it was tarriffed at 1:4. I do not have my book at my fingertips. However, his “Coinage of the Roman Economy...” was a great read to get a nice overview of the whats and whys. I enjoyed it.
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  14. Restitutor

    Restitutor Active Member

    Congrats on the acquisition! It’s a beautiful coin of a fantastic emperor.

    Tets have become one of my favorite coin categories - you get so much bang for your buck!
  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @dougsmit , here is the entry for "Cistophorus" in the John Melville Jones Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (London 1990), at pp. 55-56:

    p. 1 -- entry for cistophorus in Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins.jpg
    p. 2 -- entry for cistophorus in Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins.jpg

    Note that Jones does say that the Greeks and Romans themselves referred to these coins as cistophori. I also find it interesting that he says regarding the Augustan cistophori that it is "their weight standard of c. 12 g., together with the small cista which appears in the field of the reverse, that entitles them to be called cistophori or cistophoric tetradrachms." Does anyone know when what we call cistophori stopped even having a token small cista mystica appear in the field of the reverse? I don't see one on the Hadrian example posted by @Obone.
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  16. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Augustus. 27 BC-14 AD. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (27mm, 11.13 gm, 12h). Pergamon mint. Struck circa 19-18 BC. Obv: IMP IX T(R POT V), Bare head right. Rev: S P R/SIGNIS/RECEPTIS across field within triumphal arch; legionary aquilae before spandrels; triumphal qudriga above; IMP IX TR POT V across entablature. RIC I 508; RPC I 2218; BMCRE 703 (Ephesus); RSC 298.
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  17. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Nerva, the third to last imperial cistophorus, Hadrian's being the last:
    Nerva. 96-98 AD. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (25mm; 9.87 gm; 7h). Mint in Asia Minor. Struck 97 AD. Obv: IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR POT P P, laureate head right. Rev: COS III, bound shafts of wheat. RIC II 120; Pinder 37; BMCRE 81; RSC 45.
    Show your Trajan cistophoric tets.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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