The true symbol of love

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gary Waddingham, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Gary Waddingham

    Gary Waddingham Active Member

    I suppose by now that nearly everyone realizes that the symbol for love, the so-called heart, which will be in abundance in a week, has nothing to do with the human heart or for that matter any mammalian heart. Various anthropologists had sometimes said it was the male genitalia upside down or the female buttocks. It is in fact the form of the seed of the silphium plant which for hundreds of years was the economic mainstay for certain parts of northern
    sylphium seed.jpg Africa. It is in fact a birth control drug and now thought to be extinct. The seed and the plant were immortalized on their coins the ones with the plant in silver being quite expensive. Here is a small fraction from my collection showing a leaf and the seed. Note the shape. This is Sear 6250, Cyrene, circa early 5th century B.C., silver. It is quite rare.
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  3. Alegandron

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

    Nice @Gary Waddingham ...

    I have a Silphium...

    KYRENAICA Kyrene Æ25 9.6g 250 BCE Diademed Zeus-Ammon r - K-O-I-N-O-N; Silphium plant; monogram SNG Cop 1278 BMC 16-19
    EX: the guy who grows Silphium in his basement... @John Anthony :)
  4. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

    Nice. I've wanted a coin from Kyrene for a long time now.
    ancient coin hunter likes this.
  5. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    I'd love to get a silphium plant coin coin!

    Several ancients have ivy leaves which are look quite a bit like hearts.
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  6. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

    Pergamene Philetairos.png
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  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    You'll be interested in the article by W.S. Wright, "Silphium Rediscovered," which appears in Celator 15 (2): 23-24. Now, the author's conclusion was false--he didn't find living examples of this extinct plant--but the numismatic information is of interest.
    TJC, RAGNAROK, ominus1 and 1 other person like this.
  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While my big plant is far nicer, the AE16 with triple plants attached at the base is much more scarce. If you like the triple reverse, it is available in silver and more common in gold. The obverse of the bronze is supposedly Karneios.
    g82050bb1145.jpg g82060fd1135.jpg
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  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    I have to say I'm in the ivy camp when it comes to what inspired the heart shape. How else to interpret this coin...

    02 Macedon Eion - x6 Obol 2594.jpg
    MACEDON, Eion
    AR Obol. 0.367, 10.9mm. MACEDON, Eion, circa 460-400 BC. SNG Cop 181. O: Two geese in love standing right; ivy leaf and H to left. R: Quadripartite incuse square.
    Ex x6 Collection

    Still want one of those coins with the silphium plant, though!
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  10. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    That's EXACTLY one of the coin i was thinking of! One of my favorites!
  11. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    Nice coin! I like silphium seed on coins. I would like one like the one in Wikipedia,
    Silphium seed Cyrenecoin wik.jpg

    but all I have is one that I call a silphium seed and most books call an ivy leaf or unknown symbol on the reverse.
    Piso.jpg Piso rev.jpg
    The obverse symbol is not in question....
    Roman level.jpg
    it is a Roman level!

    I like the silphium stories. According to Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger in
    "The Classical Cookbook", Nero was reported to have eaten the last one. (sorry for the bad pic, I ordered the book and copied the paragraph below from it)
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  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..i read about that plant many years ago. isn't there supposed to be a similar plant that still growing but doesn't have the exact properties?..i can't recall exactly where i read it, but i do remember seeing it. interesting!...(addition)Ah, i didn't read down far enough..i think rrdenarius answered my question.:)
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    KYRENAIKA, Barke
    480-450 BC

    AR hemidrachm, 13 mm, 1.57 gm
    Obv: silphium plant
    Rev: head of Zeus Ammon right within linear frame, B A P K around
    Ref: (which I have not checked) Müller MAA 301. Very rare.
    More on the silphium plant here, although the gist of known information has already been stated in this thread:

    KYRENAIKA, Kyrene
    modern copy by electrotypist Robert Ready
    host coin, c. 410-400 BCE, acquired by the British Museum in 1872

    AR "tetradrachm", 27 mm, 16.64 gm
    Obv: Bearded head of Zeus-Ammon, wearing tainia with uraeus-like ornament at forehead, facing slightly left within laurel wreath
    Rev: silphium plant; K V P A N A (split between fields, retrograde K)
    Edge: initials R R
    Ref: BMC 77 (host coin); B.V. Head. A guide to the principal coins of the Greeks, from circ. 700 B.C. to A.D. 270. London. 1965 pl. 20, 61 (host coin); host coin BM accession number 1872,0709.361; B.V. Head. A Guide to the Select Greek and Roman Coins Exhibited in Electrotype, London. 1880. Period III C #44.
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  14. I took a picture of this ancient Greek pottery boar head in the British Museum because of all of the “hearts” on it. I guess I will post it now since it is relevant.

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  15. TJC

    TJC Well-Known Member

    Cherronesos339xO.jpg Cherronesos339xR.jpg Here is Lion / Incuse square with a heart (ivy leaf or grapes?)
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