Featured Stephanophoric Tetradrachms

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Magnesia ad Maeandrum, c. 155-145 BC.jpg
    Ionia - Magnesia ad Maeandrum, circa 155-145 BC, Magistrate Herognetos, son of Zopryionos. AR Tetradrachm: 16.89 gm, 31 mm, 12 h (reduced Attic standard). Obverse: Draped bust of Artemis wearing a diadem, with bow and quiver over left shoulder. Reverse: Apollo Delphios leaning on tripod censer and holding a branch tied with fillet, meander pattern under feet. The inscription in the left field identifies the issuing authority, and the inscription in the right field translates "of the Magnesians", all within a laurel wreath. SNG von Aulock 7921, BMC Ionia pg. 162.
    Roma Numismatics Ltd. Auction XX, lot 178, Oct. 2020
    Heritage Auction 3081, lot 30081, NGC 2490574-004, Ch AU*, Strike 5/5, Surface 5/5, Jan. 2020
    CNG Triton VI, lot 357, Jan. 2003

    The instant I saw this coin I remembered seeing it in a Heritage auction earlier this year, however, at that time it was in an NGC slab. The coin was removed from the slab and no mention of the Heritage auction was listed in Roma's description that it was previously sold by Heritage. The Heritage photos of the coin were of poor quality, see the photos below.

    H.A. 3080, lot 30089, slab.jpg

    Whether Roma knew of the the coin's appearance in the Heritage auction and didn't mention it in their description, to give the impression the coin was fresh on the market, or if they didn't know of its past history I don't know and frankly don't care. Never the less, I wanted a coin from this historic auction, and the striking beauty of the coin was too hard to resist, and to top it off I got the coin for less than estimate.

    Artemis and Apollo were born twins of Zeus and Leto. Artemis later became goddess of the moon, hunt, virginity, and wilderness, and was never married. She was adopted by the Romans who named her Diana. Artemis was the city goddess of Magnesia on the Meander River and a large temple was built there in her honor. Apollo became the god of the sun and music. The mythology of Artemis and Apollo is varied and seems almost endless.

    Artemis-Apollo, cup, c. 470 BC, Louvre, Paris.jpg
    Painted pottery cup depicting Apollo and Artemis, circa 470 BC, Louvre, Paris.

    Amphitheater at Magnesia.jpg
    Ruins of a large amphitheater in Magnesia ad Maeandrum.

    Stephanophoric tetradrachms (Stephanophori = wreath bearers) are a fascinating and short lived series of Hellenistic coinage of high aesthetic refinement struck during the 2nd century BC. The obverse of these coins depicts an anepigraphic bust of a god or goddess in high relief, and the reverse depicts a variety of subjects and inscriptions all contained within a wreath. The dies were engraved in a manner creating a coin with a convex obverse and concave reverse. The uniformity of style and engraving suggests that the engravers of these coins knew each other. The bulk of these coins were struck in the city states of Aeolis-Myrina, Aeolis-Kyme, and Magnesia ad Maeandrum. Why these coins were minted and why they abruptly stopped being minted has been debated by numismatists for a long time. The Roman Republic gained a strong presence in Wester Asia Minor after defeating Antiochus III, and the signing of the Treaty of Apamaea in 188 BC. The 1st Stephanophoric coinage appears around 154 BC, which coincides with an attack by Prusius II of Bithynia, on territories in Pergamon (156-154 BC). Magnesia on the Meander River was also a victim of his aggression. After being subdued by a coalition of Roman forces, Prusius was ordered to pay an indemnity of of 500 talents of silver and 20 decked ships to the city states victimized by his aggression. This event seems to be the most likely explanation why these coins were minted. They appear to be victory commemoratives of the defeat of Prusius, and when the indemnity of silver ran out they stopped being minted.

    Myrina, Apollo.jpg
    Aeolis - Myrina, circa 155-145 BC, AR Tetradrachm: 16.51 gm, 31 mm, 12 h. Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo of Grynion. Reverse: Apollo holding phiale and a branch, omphalos and amphora at feet, monogram in left field. The inscription translates "of the Myrinians". SNG Copenhagen 223. Ex Al Kowsky Collection.

    Myrina was one of the cities on the western coast of Mysia. It was controlled by Philip V of Macedon until he was booted out by Romans. Under Roman rule Myrina was given suzerainty over Grynion, a neighboring city about 4.6 miles south west of Myrina. Grynion was famous for its temple and large marble statue of Apollo, and was a well known tourist stop for the well to-do. These tetradrachms would have made great souvenirs to take home as keepsakes.

    CNG 88, lot 306, Kyme image, 2011.jpg
    Aeolis - Kyme, circa 155-145 BC, (1st obverse die in the Kyme series), AR Tetradrachm: 16.58 gm, 30 mm, 12 h. Obverse: Bust of Kyme wearing a diadem. Reverse: Stallion with one leg raised above a single handled cup, magistrate "Metrophanes" in exergue, ethnic city name in right field, all within a laurel wreath. SNG Copenhagen 104 (same dies). Photo courtesy of CNG Auction 88, lot 306.

    Kyme was the largest of the Aeolian cities and was named after the Amazon warrior Kyme. Amazon was a mythical nation of female warriors who were thought to cut off the right breast of their daughters and cauterize the wound, so upon maturity they could draw a bow string without interference. They lived by hunting and warfare and considered themselves as descendants of Ares, god of war, and the goddess Artemis. They did have contact with men from other tribes but killed or enslaved their male offspring.

    Stephanophoric coinage was clearly influenced by the Athenian "new style" coinage and was struck by many different city states, however, I've focused this article on the city states that struck the bulk of this coinage for the sake of brevity. Pictured below is one of the "new style" Athenian tetradrachms.

    CNG Triton XIII, lot 1212.jpg
    Attica - Athens, circa 165-45 BC (struck 165-149 BC), AR Tetradrachm: 16.81 gm, 32 mm, 12 h. Obverse: Helmeted bust of Athena. Reverse: Owl on amphora, monogram in left field, monogram in right field above caps of the Dioscuri, all within a wreath. SNG Copenhagen 115. Photo courtesy of CNG Triton XIII, lot 1212.

    Western_Asia_Minor_Greek_Colonization. - Wiki..png

    Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction XX, London, England
    Classical Numismatic Group (CNG), Lancaster, PA
    Heritage Auctions, Dallas, TX
    Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology, Michael Grant & John Hazel, copyright 1973

    If CT members have anything interesting to add, please do so :D.

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  3. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    Nothing to add but to say this is a great, interesting, informative write up.
  4. kazuma78

    kazuma78 Supporter! Supporter

    Great pickup! This is one I was also bidding on.
  5. Romancollector

    Romancollector Well-Known Member

    Gorgeous tetradrachm @Al Kowsky !!!! I’ve always wanted one of these stephanophoric types as the imagery is beautiful. Congrats!!! After Syracusan, Ptolemaic and Seleucid coins, they are one of favourite Greek coins....however, as I’m trying to focus on Roman coins, I haven’t pulled the trigger on any Greek coins recently...unfortunately nothing to share from me! I also won a few coins from Roma XX, which should be arriving on Monday after extensive customs delays.
  6. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Lovely coin.
    Some references for stephanophores.

    THE AUTONOMOUS WREATHED TETRADRACHMS OF MAGNESIA ON-MAEANDER Author(s): Nicholas F. Jones Source: Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), Vol. 24 (1979), pp. 63-108 Published by: American Numismatic Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43573577

    THE AUTONOMOUS WREATHED TETRADRACHMS OF KYME, AEOLIS Author(s): John H. Oakley Source: Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), Vol. 27 (1982), pp. 1-37 Published by: American Numismatic Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43573648

    THE AUTONOMOUS COINAGE OF SMYRNA Author(s): J. G. Milne Source: The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 3 (1923), pp. 1-30 Published by: Royal Numismatic Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42663965

    THE WREATHED COINS OF AEOLIAN MYRINA Author(s): Kenneth S. Sacks Source: Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), Vol. 30 (1985), pp. 1-43 Published by: American Numismatic Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43573693

    ΤΥΠΟΙ Greek and Roman Coins Seen Through Their Images Noble Issuers, Humble Users? Proceedings of the International Conference Organized by the Belgian and French Schools at Athens, 26-28 September 2012 P.P. IOSSIF, Fr. DE CALLATAŸ, R. VEYMIERS (eds.) Presses Universitaires de Liège 2018
    The Great Transformation. Civic Coin Design in the Second Century BC (Plates XL-XLVIII) Andrew MEADOWS

    AJN Second Series 28 (2016) pp. 105–158 © 2016 The American Numismatic Society The Koinon of Athena Ilias and its Coinage Plates 36–46 Aneurin Ellis-Evans*

    THE GAZIANTEP HOARD, 1994 (CH 9.527; 10.308) A. R. MEAdOWS
    And ARtHUR HOUgHtOn*

    COMMERCE (“DEMETRIUS I” HOARD), 2003 (CH 10.301) Catharine C. Lorber.

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  7. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    53 Athens type stephanaphoes

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  8. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    Wow! You need two more to complete the pyramid :)
  9. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Actually I've got 3 more and upgraded one!
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  10. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    A beautiful example! Heritage missed the CNG pedigree but Roma added it back in: I suspect someone was hoping to flip it with the pedigree added but it still ultimately sold fairly cheaply at Roma. There are always coins which fall through the cracks in these phonebook sales.
  11. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ...i see signs of obsessive compulsion going on there:woot:
    NewStyleKing likes this.
  12. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Yikes :jawdrop:!, So you're the one cornering the market on the "new style" Athens Tets :smuggrin:. There must be some beauties in that hoard :D.
    ominus1 and NewStyleKing like this.
  13. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Such beautiful tetradrachm, @Al Kowsky
    Stunning obverse details.
  14. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice collection! Do you have reference books to guide your purchase? Or just buy one when it has a different reverse?
  15. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    N.S.K., Many thanks for all the study/research sources :D! I'll be exploring them in the near future :cool:.
  16. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    A beautiful coin @Al Kowsky - as I add "stephanophoric" to my ancient coin vocabulary - is this coin also stephanophoric?
    Macedonia Tetra.jpg
    Macedon under Roman rule (Roman protectorate), Republican period, First Meris, Circa 167-149 BC, AR Tetradrachm, Amphipolis mint
    Obv: Diademed and draped bust of Artemis right, bow and quiver over shoulder, in the center of a Macedonian shield
    Rev: Club; monogram and MAKEΔONΩN above, ΠPΩTHΣ and two monograms below; all within oak wreath, thunderbolt to left
    Ref: Prokopov, Silver 213–29 ; SNG Copenhagen 13.
    Note: After the defeat of Perseus at the battle of Pydna in 168 BC, the Romans divided Macedon into four separate autonomous administrative regions (meride). The first meris lay east of the Strymon with its capital at Amphipolis.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  17. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    An extensive die study and detailed descriptions and appreciation, Hoards, Imitations and metrology was performed by Margaret Thompson ANS 10 1961 in NSSCA-The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens vol l & 2. Generally it holds up to this day with one major exception. The dating she adopted called the high dating was immediately attacked by Lewis and then others on misreading hoards ,but some overstrikes proved problematic until the dating of the overstrike/undertype was altered-despite introducing a circularity-the scheme now fits.. She conceded in c 1984, Morkholm then raised to an intermediate chronology c 1982 but since then most people have stuck to a low chronology which seems to suit the hoard evidence especially the more complete and meaningful re-constructions of Andrew Meadows and Houghton's The Gaziantep Hoard above and Lorber's Commerce Demetrius l Hoard, also above. Others now include the late Mattingley and Habicht, indeed most scholars...and me! This take a year or so c 164 to 42 BC and every or almost every year having an issue.
    Her sequencing of some has been modified slightly in parts but essentially is as published.

    The chronology tussel produced quite a few papers and being part of the Stephanophores became a popular topic and base for research.
    Now Athens New Style dates hoards and not necessarily the other way round.
    The NewStyles were widely used in Seleucid lands, Syria, Thracia,and the Balkans and essentially replaced the other stephanophores.

    Read my page on academia.edu under my name:John Arnold Nisbet, especially,

    Sources for research on the New Style coinage of Athens with comments

    (Update March 2019)

    This is all the papers I can find that are pertinent to the study of the Athenian New Style coinage. The specific Rome-Pontic times need background reading for the times and personalities involved where the evidence from coinage is often discussed.
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  18. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Although all stephanophores are spread flan, they are also Civic issues, Macedonian Royal issues are not seen thus, as wreath bearers.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  19. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Sulla80, As N.S.K. correctly states, the Macedonian Tets technically aren't considered Stepanophoric, however, most collectors of the "wreath bearers" will include an example of these attractive Tets. No doubt the Macedonian Tets were also influenced by the Athenian Tets.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    John (N.S.K.) Thanks for sharing your knowledge & insight into this wonderful coinage :D. Greek coinage has never been a serious pursuit for me but I've always admired Greek coinage for its artistry, especially the coinage of Sicily, & on rare occasions will add a Greek coin to my collection that hits me the right way :).
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  21. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Al, that's a wonderful presentation, beautifully illustrated, formatted and with excellent examples.

    Aside from the new style Athenian tetradrachms, which have been previously posted, I have no other stephanophoric tetradrachms to add your thread.

    The coins you posted are indeed a pinnacle of Hellenistic art.
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