The first coinage of Kos island (and my first Greek gold)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Feb 7, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

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

    The island of Kos which looks upon the map like a huge dolphin about to swim into the Ceramic Gulf between the promontories of Myndos and Knidos, was, next to Rhodos, the greatest of the Dorian Sporades.


    Its circumference is estimated by Strabo as 550 stades, and by Pliny as 100 Koinan miles. The island falls naturally into three divisions. First, there is the eastern district, bounded on the south by the high range of mountains which run sheer down into the southern sea upon these mountains are the healing springs, still renowned for their efficacy. It is possible that beneath these springs, on one of the spurs of the range, stood the temple of Asklepios (see my post).
    Secondly, there is the district from Antimachia to the Isthmus, a plateau of a different geological formation, deeply furrowed by watercourses, and for the most part desolate and barren, though comprising the more fertile plain of Halasarna on its south-east. Lastly, there is the mountainous western district (Kephalos), with a distinct range of its own, but with no plain.

    The first coinage of Kos started in 625 B.C. and consisted of 1/6th, 1/48th and 1/96th Electrum stater fractions. On the obverse a crab is visible, on the reverse the usual incuse square characteristic for this time.
    The first silver fractions that appeared ca. 500 B.C. also bears the the same design, and even centuries later the crab was still used on the coinage of Kos.

    The precise signification of the crab as emblem of Kos is doubtful, but the symbol may have been connected with the cult of Herakles, as the later coinage of Kos always has the symbol of the crab constantly accompanied by the Heraklean club.
    The myth, according to Hyginus and Apollodorus, tells how a crab bit the foot of Herakles while he was struggling with the Lernaean Hydra.
    Islands off Caria, Kos. EL Forty-eighth Stater, Phokaic standard. Circa 625-600 B.C.
    Reverse: Incuse square.
    Reference: Stefanaki Series I, unlisted denomination; HN Online –; cf. HGC 6, 1295 (1/96th stater).

    Especially the smaller denominations, such as my above 1/48th EL stater are extremely rare.

    The EL staters were struck using the Phokaic standard of circa 16 grams, which was also used in Ionia and Mysia. The intrinsic value of the early electrum, even down to the 1/96th stater, was too high for use in everyday commerce, and early coinage must have been used only for the transfer of large sums of money, such as mercantile transactions, payment of government expenses (mercenaries, tribute and such), and donatives, either for services rendered to individuals or the state, or to religious foundations.

    This is my first Greek coin with gold, this one was relatively expensive though compared to other EL staters this size, but since it is extremely rare and it fits perfectly in my Greek islands collection I just had to have it. No expensive coins in this price range for a while anymore (or I'll make the wife mad :D).

    Post your coins of Kos and crab coins!
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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Wow! That is great!
    What is the diameter of that coin? I can only guess how small since it is only 0.34g.

    We don't have any ancient gold, or coins from Kos, but we DO have a crab. :)

    Sicily, Akragas
    AE Tetras
    Before 406 BC
    Obverse: AK-PA, eagle right, tearing at hare
    Reverse: Crab; three dots and shrimp left below
  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    What a fantastic acquisition, @Pavlos... congrats!! That's perhaps the cutest crab I've seen on a coin, and as you say, it's a great fit for your collection. Like FF I'd like to hear what the diameter is.

    My favourite crab is on the head of Amphitrite on the obverse of this coin, and my second favourite is on the reverse:
    Screen Shot 2021-02-07 at 11.08.52 PM.jpg
    Bruttium: The Brettii, quartuncia c. 216-213 BCE, 2.85g, 14mm
  5. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Stunning new coin:artist::wideyed: and great write up:bookworm::pompous:!
    Sicily, Akragas. Tetras

    10.35 g), ca. 420-406 BC. AKPA, eagle right, head lowered to devour hare held in talons; in left field, crab right. Reverse Crab; below, three pellets above crayfish left. CNS 50; SNG ANS 1037; HGC 2, 140. Rare. Glossy dark chocolate brown patina.
  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Terrific acquisition, @Pavlos! That's a really attractive and interesting EL fraction.
    Pavlos likes this.
  7. Alegandron

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

    I LIKE that little EL, @Pavlos ! Nice capture!

    Bummer, no Kos, but I got CRABS! :)

    Sicily Akragas AE Onkia 16mm 3.8g 425-406 BCE Eagle r fish fly - Crab conch SNG ANS 1062 var

    They attributed this with a Crab device. I grew up calling it a Crawdaddy...
    Apollonia Pontica Thrace AR Diobol 1.3g 410-323 BCE Apollo-Anchor crab-crawfish A Tupalov 56
  8. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member


    I have one example from Kos: this budget didrachm with some horn silver damage.

    lands off Caria, Kos AR didrachm
    345-340 BC
    Obverse: bearded head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress.
    Reverse: Veiled female (Halkiopi?) head left, AΓ[H] (magistrate) behind, [KΩION] below.
    References: HGC 6, 1305.
    18mm; 6.37 g
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  9. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I have NO crabs or scorpions. But your EL 1/48 ex. from Kos is stunning and super rare. Congrats on you beautifull coin Pavlos:D
    +VGO.DVCKS and Pavlos like this.
  10. Pavlos

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

    Thanks Sev and furryfrog! Both very nice coins, thank you for sharing.
    It is only 5mm in diameter, but even when tiny I really like the design of the crab, great artistry work for this early archaic fraction.

    Thanks Ryro! Nice coins.

    Thank you @zumbly, really glad to have this addition. The only other example I found sold of this type was recently at CNG, it sold for 1500$!!! I got it for around 3 times less.

    Both very nice coins @Alegandron. Cute crawfish on your diobol.

    Very nice didrachm, the photo was not visible but now when replying I see the coin. I want to have that type one day.

    Thank you @panzerman for your words, especially from you as no1 gold collector!
  11. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Only 5mm??? The smallest coins we have are ~10mm. I can't imagine something that small. That never ceases to amaze me how they were able to make such intricate designs by hand!
    Pavlos and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  12. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    No Kos or crab to share but I do want to say great coin and post @Pavlos . Thanks for sharing!
    Pavlos likes this.
  13. Pavlos

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

    Indeed... There are even smaller coins with nice artistry around 0.1g such as an dionkion or hemitetartemorion. An dionkion can weight 0.06-0.07g... insane.

    Thank you Curt!
    Curtisimo and furryfrog02 like this.
  14. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Instead of a dionkion, they should have named it a "dinkykion";)
    furryfrog02 likes this.
  15. Meander

    Meander Well-Known Member

    That is a wonderful little crab @Pavlos. Nicely centred and excellently preserved. Congrats! I'd love to own such coin.

    In the meantime I must be happy (and I am) with a Herakles tetradrachm and didrachm. Here they are:

    ISLANDS off CARIA, Kos. Circa 280-250 BC. AR Tetradrachm. Leodamas, magistrate. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin / Crab; KΩION above; below, ΛEOΔAMAΣ above bow-in-bowcase; all within dotted square. Requier Group III, 49a (this coin)


    ISLANDS off CARIA, Kos. Circa 345-340 BC. AR Didrachm. Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin / Veiled head of Demeter left, ΦIΛO behind. Pixodarus p. 232, 22 (A3/P12).
    Curtisimo, Pavlos, Bing and 4 others like this.
  16. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Those are both beautiful!
  17. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Very cool addition! I was fortunate enough to vacation there a few years ago and visited the ruins of the Asklepion.

    I'm on my phone and don't have any photos handy so mayne that old post will show up. There are tons of cats that live at the ruins these days. My son was 6 at the time and he kept trying to pet them but they would have none of it.
    furryfrog02 likes this.
  18. MarcosX

    MarcosX Active Member

    A lot of doctors have real estate in Kos, my father use to have some raw land in Kos and sold it to
    .. a doctor of course.
    Nice El crab fraction you don't see them often
    Pavlos likes this.
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