Greece (Ionia, Phokaia): electrum hekte; Athena and quadripartite punch, ca. 478-387 BC

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by lordmarcovan, May 19, 2018.


How interesting/appealing do you find this coin, whether or not you're an expert? (1=worst, 10=best)

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  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Greece (Ionia, Phokaia): electrum hekte, ca. 478-387 BC
    Obverse: Helmeted head of Athena right, dolphin (partially off flan) swimming left below.
    Reverse: Quadripartite incuse square.
    Issuer: Phokaia (Phocaea) in Ionia.
    Specifications: Electrum, 9 mm, 2.53 g.
    Grade: NGC VF; Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5; cert. #4280918-001. Purchased raw.
    Reference: Bodenstedt Ph.91.
    Provenance: Ex-Germania Inferior Numismatics, Netherlands, via VCoins store, 9 June 2017.*
    Notes: the world's earliest coinage was struck in electrum, and many had simple punch mark designs like the reverse of this one.
    Comments: This was my first electrum coin. It is a tiny masterpiece.


    markr, Neal, Carl Wilmont and 12 others like this.
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Beautiful piece
    Andres2 and lordmarcovan like this.
  4. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    I find the obverse very attractive. And its electrum! :) If I were more interested in greek coinage, this one would say "buy me"
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  5. Alegandron

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

    Very nice, @lordmarcovan . Congrats confiscating it into your realm.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    I think it has just about everything one might want, except that it's a teeny-tiny little thing. But that fact gives it a sort of Lilliputian charm, and also kept the price down.*

    (*Relatively speaking, for electrum, anyway, which I couldn't afford in anything larger than aspirin tablet size.)

  7. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    It's a pretty neat job of those ancient engravers to get such a nice portrait on such a small coin. The small size adds to the beauty.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    My thoughts exactly. It got me to wondering what sort of lenses they might have had, to see such tiny things. Maybe the engraving was a younger man's craft.
  9. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member

    I have long marveled at the fine detail on tiny ancient coins. In an age when the average life expectancy was so much less than today, most crafts were younger men's crafts. Then again, there are certain people who can naturally see tiny stuff. My wife, before her cataract surgery, was legally blind without glasses ("What chart?"), but amazed the ophthalmologist by what tiny things she could see a few inches in front of her face. It was almost like always wearing a magnifying lens.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    The thought about life expectancy did occur to me. When I was younger, I had that extremely acute vision (could see the VDB initials under the shoulder on a modern Lincoln cent with no problem). Nowadays, in my mid-fifties, I can't read the date on any coin smaller than a quarter, even with my specs (readers) on. I need to get out my loupe.

    I do wonder if the ancients used lenses for magnification. I believe some have been found. But mostly I guess it was younger but talented, sharp-eyed men doing the engraving work.
    Neal likes this.
  11. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member

    Emphasis on talented, with lots of training by master engravers. Even engraving US currency requires a ten year apprenticeship, if I remember correctly what the engraver told me at Fort Worth.
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