Featured Themistokles: The First Portrait Coin in History or a Very Drunk Blacksmith?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Feb 12, 2021.


Who do you think is shown on the obverse?

  1. Themistokles

  2. Hephaestus

  3. The guy who invented bacon bits

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  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I find the coins struck at Magnesia on the Meander under Themistokles in the later part of his life to be fascinating. When I began to research this coin I found that information on Themistokles after his ostracism is not very easy to find. This is especially true of his coins since many of the primary references are in languages other than English. Therefore, I decided to put together this write up in order to provide a general historic background for the life of Themistokles after his exile and especially to give a more accessible means of categorizing and understanding his fractional coinage and in particular the “tight-cap” head type.

    I caution that I am not claiming that this write up is anything close to a comprehensive or a completely accurate treatment of the subject. It is simply a compilation of my own understanding after my research. I will also warn you all ahead of time that this is going to be a loooooong post… even for me.

    Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum
    Themistokles, AR Hemiobol, struck ca. 465-459 BC
    Dia.: 8 mm
    Wt.: 0.24 g
    Obv.: Head of Hephaestus right, wearing laureate pilos; Θ-Ε flanking
    Rev.: ΘΕ monogram in dotted square border within incuse square.
    Ref.: Nollé & Wenninger 5a; Cahn & Gerin 8 = SNG München 585; SNG Copenhagen; Very rare.

    1 Historical Background

    1.1 The Flight of Themistokles
    The exploits of Themistokles during the Persian Wars are well known enough that I need not rehash them here. After the war, he made many enemies both in Athens and elsewhere in the Greek world. The Athenians were always prone to popular jealousy of their most prominent citizens and Themistokles seems to have made matters worse for himself by acting in an arrogant manner. For instance, he named two of his daughters after his accomplishments in the battle of Salamis: Mnesiptolema (“war memorial”) and Nicomache (“battle victory”).

    Perhaps most importantly, he made enemies of the Spartans. Themistokles was initially on very good terms with the Spartans immediately after the war and they bestowed many honors on him. However, he used this goodwill to pull off a diplomatic delaying tactic in order to allow the Athenians enough time to build city walls over the objections of the Spartans. This enraged the Spartans who felt betrayed.

    In either 472 or 471 BC Themistokles was famously ostrasized from Athens.

    Fig. 1: I took this photo in the small museum in the Painted Stoa in the Agora of Athens. These Ostraca were found discarded in a well and are from the famous ostracism of Themistokles ca. 472/1 BC. Many of the shards were written by the same hand implying the enemies of Themistokles had them made ahead of the vote to be handed out. (Author’s photo)

    Themistokles lived in Argos during the first part of his exile. However, the enemies he had made in Sparta saw this as their chance for revenge. They accused him of being in league with the Spartan regent Pausanias as a traitor for the Persians and demanded that he stand trial. The Athenian assembly assented to this demand.

    Understanding that he was in mortal danger, Themistokles decided to flee. It is easy for us to forget that Themistokles wasn’t alone in exile. He had the majority of his family with him as well. Themistokles had five sons by his first wife, Archippe (died before 480 BC): Neocles (died young), Diocles (stayed in Athens), Archeptolis, Polyeuctus and Cleophantus. He also had several daughters by his unnamed second wife with at least two of them, Mnesiptolema and Nicomache, having been born in Athens. In total Themistokles had ten children but some of them may have been born in exile, such as his youngest daughter Asia. Therefore, when Themistokles decided to make a run for it he had a wife and at least five young children that had to flee with him.

    He first decided to flee to Korkyra because he previously had very good relations with the leaders of that city. However, the Korkyreans did not want to alienate themselves from both Sparta and Athens and so arranged for him to be sent back to the mainland opposite the island. Agents from both Spartan and Athenian were in close pursuit.

    Themistokles was now out of friends that he could turn to and so he decided to take a desperate action by travelling with his family to the court of one of his enemies; King Admetus of Molossia. Admetus was away from the palace at the time and so Themistokles presented himself as a suppliant to his wife. This story has an interesting parallel with the story of Odysseus and the Phaeacians in the Odyssey. Since Themistokles was often characterized as the Athenian Odysseus if this story isn’t true it should be. Admetus’ wife (not named by Thucydides) advised Themistokles to present himself to her husband with his son on his lap (probably Archeptolis). Thucydides tells us this was the most submissive form of supplication possible in Greek culture of the time. Admetus chose to accept Themistokles as a suppliant.

    Even though agents of Sparta and Athens arrived in his court and threatened him with war if he did not hand Themistokles over, Admetus flatly refused to do so. Instead, he arranged for Themistokles and his family to be transported over-land to the city of Pynda on the opposite coast of Greece so that he could make arrangements to escape to Persia.

    From Pynda he and his family took a ship bound for Ionia. Unfortunately the ship was blown off course in a storm and ended up on the island of Naxos at the same time the Athenian fleet was besieging the city there (471-469 BC). Themistokles was forced to threaten the captain of the ship that if they were caught he would tell the Athenians that the captain had accepted a bribe to transport him. He also promised that if the captain would keep the crew from leaving the ship until the weather cleared that he would reward him when they reached Ionia, to which the captain agreed and was later rewarded as promised.

    Fig. 2: Map of the route taken by Themistokles during his flight from Greece.

    Themistokles and his family arrived in Ephesus and with the help of friends in that city made contact with the Great King Artaxerxes I (via letter according to Thucydides)[1]. Thucydides imagines Themistokles reminding Artaxerxes of his success against the latter’s father during the war but insisting that he had provided his family a great service by not pressing the Greek advantage when Xerxes was retreating (who could possibly say this guy wasn’t humble!?). He asked for a year to learn the language and customs of Persia, after which he could serve the Great King.

    1.2 In Service to the Great King of Persia
    Whether or not the sources have any of the above details correct it is without dispute that Themistokles was accepted into the service of the Persian king and rewarded with the governance of several cities. Thucydides lists them as Magnesia on the Maeander for bread, Myus for fish and Lampsakos for wine. The 2nd century writer Athenaeus adds the small towns of Perkote and Palaiskepsis to the list for bedding and clothing respectively. This convention of cities providing products for the maintenance of a ruler is probably a memory of earlier Persian taxation practices but it is just as likely that by this time that Themistokles was paid a percentage of money or bullion that was due to the Great King from these cities.

    Themistokles chose Magnesia on the Maeander as his capitol and took up residence there in around 465 BC. Magnesia was located in the most fertile river valley in Asia Minor and was situated at the confluence of the Lethaios and the Meander Rivers. It was originally settled by Greeks from Thessaly known as the Magnetes led by the founding hero Leukippos in the 8th century BC. It was founded in the area of an older Carian settlement. In fact, this mixed population of Greeks and Carians may have been one of the reasons that Themisokles was selected to act as ruler (or tyrant perhaps) of the area because his mother was of Carian descent.

    In Themistokles’s time the city did not have walls. It consisted of a central settlement on the open plain on the north bank of the Meander River connected to a number of sanctuaries and shrines of both Greek and native origin in the surrounding area. There was a Persian palace in the city from at least the 520s BC because Herodotus notes that the Persian Satrap Oroetes lived there [4]. Themistokles likely took up residence in this palace and almost certainly took up Persian dress and customs as well. He built a shrine to the local goddess Dindymene and situated his daughter Mnesiptolema as the head priestess [3].

    He also struck the silver coins which are the primary interest of this write up. Thucydides notes that the wealth that Themistokles accumulated from his Persian territory amounted to 50 talents a year [1][3]. To put that number in perspective it is almost 10% of the entire yearly income that Athens assessed from its allies in the Delian League. A good portion of that wealth may have come from mining operations instigated by Themistokles himself in the mountains north of the city. He was, after all, familiar with the mining at Laurion near Athens considering the mines were located in his native demos and his family may have been involved the mining operation there [3]. Mount Thorax was only a few miles away from the original location of Magnesia and its modern name in Turkish suggests its connection to silver mining (Gümüş-Dâg = Silver Mountain). Even though the coins are rare today the output of the Magnesia mint under Themistokles was probably fairly substantial.

    1.3 Death and Aftermath
    In or near the year 459 BC Themistokles died in his new home in Magnesia. Thucydides says that he simply died of an illness. Both Thucydides and Plutarch also related the tradition that Themistokles committed suicide when he was ordered by Artaxerxes I to participate in a war against the Greeks and specifically Athens and her allies.

    After his death Themistokles passed on his authority over Magnesia on the Meander to his son Archeptolis. The evidence of the coins, which were later struck in the son’s name, shows this without dispute. There is also a partial inscription from Lampsakos that indicates that another of his sons, Cleophantus, may have taken control of that city [3]. There is no evidence for or against the other cities under his control passing to his other surviving children but it is certainly a possibility.

    None of the children of Themistokles managed to found a dynasty and most of them returned to Athens in the decades after the death of their father. Cleophantus is mentioned by Plato as living in Athens (420s BC) and having a reputation as a great horse rider but an otherwise useless person. Archeptolis married his half-sister Mnesiptolema and ruled in Magnesia for a time. We don’t know what happened to him but we know that by the year 400 BC Tissaphernes was in control of Magnesia. If Themistokles and his sons had styled themselves tyrants it would not be surprising if the sons were expelled by the local populations as often happened in the second generation of a tyranny. It is also possible that the sons fell victim to Persian politics and were pushed out by the expanding power of the satraps of Asia Minor.

    As for the fate of Themistokles’ city of Magnesia, it was abandoned in about 400-399 BC. The Spartan general Thibron captured it and decided that because it was located in the valley and did not have walls that it was too exposed to defend. He moved the population up into the hills and re-founded the city near a temple dedicated to Artemis. These are the ruins we see today. The original city was covered over by silt and lost to time as the river changed courses over the centuries. This is why the vast majority of the coins of Themisokles are in very poor shape. Any hoards or individual coins near the old city would have been exposed to water and soils that are not good for preservation.

    Fig. 3: Probable location of the original city of Magnesia in the foreground by the river. The location noted in the foothills in the background is the location that the city was relocated to by the Spartan general Thibron in ca. 399 BC. This was the location of a temple to Artemis during the time of Themistokles and there was probably a well-travelled path between the city and shrine.

    2 The Fractional Coins of Themistokles
    Themistokles struck silver didrachms and drachms of an Attic standard as well as fractional coins of uncertain standard. Of the fractional coins struck under Themistokles the type represented by the above example (male wearing tight cap) is probably the most interesting or at least one of the most discussed by scholars. There are multiple interpretations of who is shown on the obverse and in the rest of this write up I will discuss the two main theories. I will also provide a visual guide to attributing the fractional issues.

    2.1 The First Portrait on a Coin in History?
    Cahn and Gerin [5] first proposed in 1988 that the coin showing a male head wearing a tight cap and flanked by Θ-Ε was an archaic representation of Themistokles himself. That would make this coin the first portrait coin in all of history.

    The first argument for this interpretation begins with the coins. Themistokles struck fractional silver coins using five separate designs (see section 2.4 Fig. 8). Three of these feature a male head on the obverse. Of these only the type showing the male head wearing a tight cap have the Greek letters Θ-Ε flanking the portrait. The other designs of male heads don’t have writing of any kind on the obverse. The Θ-Ε is obviously meant as a reference to Themistokles in some way and because this type is always paired with the ΘΕ monogram on the reverse it is hard to imagine anyone being unaware that these coins were struck under Themistokles. The tempting interpretation is that the letters Θ-Ε on the obverse of the tight cap type are meant to designate the head as belonging to Themistokles.

    Second, the unusual tight cap may be further evidence of a link to portraiture. In the 1980s a marble head was discovered at Herakleia and is believed to represent a satrap under Darios I ca. 530 BC (see Fig. 4). The head is shown wearing a tight cap similar to the coins struck under Themistokles. This shows that there was at least a precedent of stylized portraiture of local dynasts in Asia Minor at the time the coins were struck.

    Finally, the personality and behavior of Themistokles himself makes the claim of him being the first person bold enough to put his image on coins seem entirely plausible. For instance, it is very likely that Themistokles erected a statue of himself in Magnesia because it is mentioned by Thucydides [1] and is even shown on coins struck during the imperial period (see Fig. 4). Further support for a lifetime statue was discovered in Ostia when a bust was found that many archeologist think is a Roman copy of a Greek original dating to Themistokles lifetime [2]. Making a leap from a statue to a small coin is neither hard to believe nor would it be surprising. Cahn and Gerin [5] note that Themistokles may have chosen to put his portrait on a small coin for local circulation rather that the larger didrachms that would have traded widely in the Greek world for political reasons.

    Fig. 4: (Left) Head of a Persian satrap discovered in Herakleia dated to ca. 530 BC. (Right) 2nd century coin of Magnesia showing the statue of Themistokles mentioned by Thucydides. (Photo courtesy of CNG)

    2.2 The Coin Represents Hephaestus in Full-blown Party Mode
    In 1999 Nolle and Wenninger [2][3] asserted that the head was not of Themistokles but of a god (Hephaestus) and that all of the other coins struck by Themistokles should be seen as representative of Greek deities and heroes as well. Specifically, they attribute the bearded head to Zeus, the helmeted head to the hero Leukippos, the owl to Athena, the grain of barely type to Apollo and most importantly for our purpose the tight-capped head to Hephaestus (see Fig. 8).

    The main iconographic argument for attributing the tight capped head to Hephaestus is… the cap. Nolle and Wenninger assert that the tight cap is a pilos and when paired with the wreath depicted on the coin represented a well-known symbol of Hephaestus from a specific myth.

    In the myth, Hephaestus is angry at his mother, Hera, for rejecting him and casting him down from Olympus. To get revenge he fashioned a throne for her that she would not be able to get up from once she sat down. When Hera became stuck on the throne she sent other gods to Hephaestus to try and convince him to return to Olympus and free her but he refused. Finally it was Dionysius who convinced Hephaestus to return to Olympus by getting him very drunk at a symposium. As part of the revelry, Dionysius placed a wreath around Hephaestus’s pilos cap. Depictions on vase paintings show the procession in which a drunk Hephaestus is carried on a horse or mule back to Olympus wearing a pilos with wreath.

    Fig. 5: (Left) Hephaestus seated on a mule being led by Dionysius back to Olympus. Note the wreath on his head. (From the Toledo Museum of Art) (Right) Dionysius approaching the throne that Hera is trapped on. Hera’s legs can be seen on the right of the scene fettered to the throne. Note that Hephaestus is wearing both a pilos and a wreath. (From the Louvre Museum, Paris)

    Nolle [3] makes a convincing argument that Themistokles styled himself as a patron of religious institutions in Magnesia. It is known for certain that he established a cult to Dindymene and appointed his daughter as head priestess because he credited that goddess with helping avert an assassination attempt [1]. The argument is that he could have similarly established or promoted the cult of Hephaestus which would have had the added benefit of a link to the locally popular god Dionysius through the above mentioned myth.

    Fig. 6: The Temple of Hephaestus at Athens. Themistokles’s attention to the cult of Athena (as evidenced by the owl coins) and Hephaestus may have had roots in the popularity of the cults in his home town of Athens. (Author’s photos)

    Nolle [3] also asserts that Themistokles was in a very precarious situation when he took control of the city. He would not have wanted to attract the envy of the local Persian nobles and risk losing the support of the great king.

    2.3 My Thoughts on the Subject
    I find the arguments made by Nolle and Wenninger that the figure shown is Hephaestus and not Themistokles convincing. The theory they pose also makes coherent sense of not just the tight-cap type but the other fractional types as well. Their conclusions seem to have been broadly accepted in numismatic circles as well but the Themistokles interpretation is the one found on Wikipedia and elsewhere online in the English language.

    I will also note that there are questions that are not entirely resolved. The letters Θ-Ε only show up on the fractional tight-capped type and on none of the others. Nolle asserts that this should not be understood to name Themistokles in the nominative form, but rather, in the genitive as a sign that the coin was struck under his authority. This would be consistent with the genitive didrachms struck by Themistokles. However, there is not a satisfactory explanation as to why this only appears on the tight-capped type, especially considering the ΘΕ monogram on the reverse already makes the connection to Themistokles apparent. Further, some of the coins struck under Themistokles’s son Archeptolis do have legends in the nominative for reason that are not well understood.

    2.4 A guide for attribution of Themistokles Fractionals
    Since many of the primary references on the coins of Themistokles and his family are in German it might be difficult for many of us to quickly and easily attribute these neat little fractionals. Therefore I am including the below table as a guide. Attributions are based on Nolle and Wenninger [2]. The weight ranges in the table are also based on the examples noted in Nolle and Wenninger.

    Fig. 7: Table of Denominations and weights

    Fig. 8: Table of Attributions by type. (Coin photos courtesy of CNG)

    [1] Thucydides: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0247:book=1:chapter=136

    [2] Nolle, J and Wenninger, A.; “Themistokles und Archepolis; Eine griechische Dynastie im Perserreich und ihre Munzpragung”; Jarbuch f. Numismatik u. Geldgeschichte 48/49 (1998/99).

    [3] Nolle, J. “Themistokles in Magnesia. Uber die Anfange der Mentalitat, das eigne Prtrat auf Munzen zu setzen.” In SNR 75 (1996)

    [4] Herodotus: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:abo:tlg,0016,001:8

    [5] Cahn, H. A. and Gerin, D. “Themistokles at Magnesia.” The Numismatic Chronicle Vol. 148 (1988), pp. 13-20

    [6] Plutarch: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Themistocles*.html

    Please feel free to pile on
    I know that a few of you have Themistokles coins (looking at you
    @Severus Alexander & @TIF ).

    However, if you don't please please feel free to post your coins of
    • Magnesia on the Meander
    • Coins showing Hephaestus / Zues / founding heros / Apollo / The owl of Athena outside of Athens etc.
    • Coins showing Hera
    • Early portrait coins
    • Coins showing an unknown figure
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
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  3. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Great read Curtismo!

    I have no Themistokles but really want one of those fractions.

    Here's an 8mm from Magnesia.
    Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum. AE8, 350-250 BC.
    Obv: Male figure on horseback right with couched lance.
    Rev: MAΓN BATM, bull butting left.
  4. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Valerian II. Caesar, 256-258 AD. Aspendos, Pamphylia. Æ 32 (16.91 gm). Obv: ΠOΥ ΛIK KOΡ OΥAΛEΡIANON KAIC CE, his bare and draped bust, right, above an eagle with wings spread. Mark of value "A" in right field not visible. Rev: ACΠEN-ΔIΩN, Hephaistos wearing conical cap seated right, holding hammer in r. hand, and shield of Achilles (?) in left hand. Flaming forge below and to the right. BMC__; SNG Cop__; von Aulock__; SNG France__; SNG PFPS__; Leopold__; Isegrim__. Cf. SNG France 207 (for rev. type [Valerian I]). Apparently unpublished. A single example found at: http://www.asiaminorcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=13106
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
  5. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    What a great write-up @Curtisimo I really enjoyed it. While I would love for the coin to depict Themistokles I also find the argument for it being Hephaestus convincing. I really wish I had one of these coins, let alone one of all of the types, in my collection, but don't have any. There is only one coin in my collection from Magnesia on the Maeander and it was struck roughly 200 years after your coin.
    Lysimachos. 305-281 BC. AR Drachm Magnesia on the Maeander mint. 297-281 BC. 19mm, 4.26 g.
    Obv: Diademed head of the deified Alexander right, with horn of Ammon / Athena.
    Rev: Nikephoros seated left, left arm resting on shield, transverse spear in background; maeander pattern to outer left, monogram to inner left.
    Thompson 117
  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Brilliant writeup, Curtis! Themistokles is such a fascinating character, as are these coins. While the argument for the head being Hephaestus is pretty convincing, I think the Θ-Ε on the obverse at least allows for the possibility that it's Themistokles himself. And, really, who's to say someone with as legendary an ego as him didn't fancy placing his portrait on his coins in the guise of ALL of these various gods?

    Regrettably, I don't have one to show, but here's a Lampsakos, for the wine...

    MYSIA Lampsakos - AE17 Janiform Pegasos Protome 2302.jpg MYSIA, Lampsakos
    AE17. 3.7g, 17mm. MYSIA, Lampsakos, circa 4th - 3rd centuries BC. BMC 51. O: Janiform female head wearing taenia and earring. R: Pegasos forepart right; trident below.
  7. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thank you! Also nice Magnesia example. Thank you for sharing.

    Very cool Hephaestus coin! I love that the scene may reference the shield of Achilles from the Iliad! Thanks for sharing.

    That’s a wonderful coin @TheRed ! I agree it would be super cool if it was Themistokles. The Θ-Ε only showing up on the one type is a real mystery and the biggest thing that keeps the theory firmly in the plausible category in my opinion.

    Very well said Z and right in line with my own thinking. Even centuries after his death his reputation for ego was such that Plutarch said Themistocles was “carried away by his desire for reputation, and such an ambitious lover of great deeds.”

    I think it’s entirely plausible that the Athenian Odysseus is still playing tricks on us two and a half thousand years later. :D

    Great coin btw my friend!
    ancientone and PeteB like this.
  8. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    A coin type I've been looking for ever since I first found out about it, here, on coin talk!
    Wish I could say I've landed one. But no.
    Best I can do:
    Several people it could be. All make for an enticing type. I favor Alexander. I believe you'd mentioned liking Seleucus as our man.

    And Hera for good measure
  9. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Great coins Ryan! The Seleucus drachm in particular is a very appropriate addition. It’s one of those coins that is just about as cool no matter who is depicted. It’s just plain fun to speculate. That’s one of my favorite coins in your collection. Thanks for sharing!
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  10. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Magnesia ad Meandrum Ar Tetradrachm 282-225 BC Struck in the name and types of Alexander the Great. Obv, Head of Herakles right beardless wearing lion skin headdress. Rv. Zeus Aetophoros seated left. Price 2020 Vadam AJN 30 7-29-2 This coin. 17.21 grms 30 mm Photo by W. Hansen magnesia2.jpg I tend to be a little bit conservative when discussing portraits because one of the things we tend to over look is that the gods generally have either an adjunct object or some form of familial animal. Thus Zeus with his beard thunderbolt and eagle can be distinguished from Poseidon with his trident and dolphin. The early portraits also had these adjuncts however even though these portraits appropriated adjuncts of gods they made certain that their image in no way resembled the god whose adjunct they had just taken. Alexander in both portraits had the horn of Ammon and on one an elephant head headdress. The horn of Ammon was associated with the god Zeus a bearded deity so that would not be confused with that of Alexander. Ptolemy wore the aegis usually associated with Athena and again little chance of mistaking him for her. Demetrios and Seleukos both used bull horns an adjunct unknown to Alexander. These adjuncts are important as they allowed the the largely illiterate population to distinguish who it was that they were looking at and this proctice continued into the Medieval period. eg why does St John the evangelist usually has an eagle nearby .
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
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  11. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    What a fantastic writeup, @Curtisimo! I can always count on learning a lot about my own coins from reading your excellent research pieces. Thank you!

    For anyone wanting to learn about Themistokles through fiction, I can recommend Farewell Great King by Jill Paton Walsh.

    I have a new photo of my Leukippos type:

    Screen Shot 2021-02-12 at 10.48.32 PM.jpg
    It's only 5.5mm and 0.21g so might be a tetartemorion. Hard to tell with these tiny ones. Note that it also has a clearly circular theta, rather than the backwards D shape - not sure what to make of that.

    I love the owl, I hadn't seen one of those before!
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  12. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter



    Trophy on Prow. The first magistrate, who it certainly seems selected the symbol on all NewStyles is named as Themistikoles. Obviously his past bad had been forgiven and his victory is able to be celebrated by a descendant.
    Alegandron, zumbly, PeteB and 4 others like this.
  13. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Beautiful coin Terence! Thank you for the notes on portraiture as well.

    That is one of the best, if not THE best, Leukippos type I have seen during my research. Wonderful coin!

    It is indeed hard to tell on the exact denomination. Mine falls between Hemiobol and tetartemorion as well. that is to be expected on mine with the poor preservation but yours I would think would be closer to the average as nice as it is.

    The circular and D shaped theta in the monogram both seem to appear on all types in what seems to be random. From what I could tell the D shape was a bit more common. The circular shape seemed to appear most often on the Zeus type. I tried to make it clear in my chart that the monogram shapes were interchangeable on the Zeus, Hephaestus and Leukippos types.

    The only reverse that is unique to a type is the one that includes M-A as a mark for Magnesia. This occurs only on the Hephaestus type which seems to be confirmed by Nolle and Wenninger because it gets its own catalogue number: Th 3b. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned up on another reverse though.

    So far we have 2 of the 5 types (Hephaestus/Themistokles and Leukippos). I wonder if we would be able to make a full CoinTalk type set?
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  14. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    And so you did, I was just being dumb. :D

    Well, @TIF has the barley grain (ex my collection). As she's not as able to drop in here these days, I don't think she'll mind if I share it:
    It's squarely within hemiobol range at 0.37g and 7.5mm.

    I see it's been over ten years since the owl type showed up on the auction market, so it may be a while before one of those lands on CT! The Zeus type seems more feasible. Though maybe not a nice one... earlier this year this one fetched over 4K at Roma, 1.16g 10mm:
    Screen Shot 2021-02-13 at 1.16.10 PM.jpg
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  15. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Very cool coin. Indeed the Athenians seem to have developed ostracizer's remorse fairly soon after his death. His children all had their citizenship restored and many of them returned to Athens. There was even a legend by the time of Thucydides (who was born around the time Themistokles died) that the body of Themistokles was secretly smuggled into Attica to be buried in the homeland.

    Indeed I remember that she won that nice coin of yours at auction. It's a very nice example and a veteran of epic battles ;)! Hopefully she will find the time to drop in and post more often soon. Her presence is much missed.

    I would say the same thing of you as well, my friend. Though I have noticed that you have been posting a bit more frequently over the last few weeks! Hopefully a sign of things to come as I have barely seen any of your new additions over the last year!

    As to the Themistokles type set, I agree that the owl is likely out of reach. The Zeus might be possible though! I got my coin from a sale of the Plankenhorn Collection of Ionian Coins which seemed to have been rather extensive and even it only had three of the types (Hephaestus, Zeus & grain). Leukippos and the owl seem to be the rare ones.
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  16. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    He was the main character in “300: Rise of an Empire” too!

    It’s the sequel to the movie “300” but from the Athenian point of view rather than the Spartan point of view like “300” was.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  17. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Hear, hear!

    That's kind of you to say. Once AMCC 3 is done I will have more coin-time to spend here. :) You seem to be back pretty solidly after your own long hiatus! I hope that holds.

    I missed that one - I often skip Naumann because they are singularly uncooperative about shipping to Canada. :( Looks like a neat sale! Did you get a travelling companion for your Themistokles?

    Action figure and all! :D
    themistocles image 1.jpg
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  18. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Everybody loves Themistokles!

  19. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Yes, I was on a coin purchasing hiatus for most of 2020. I am back to buying and participating and already have several new coins that I need to photograph and share so I should be more engaged this year. I am looking forward to AMCC3. Sorry to hear that it is causing you to have less CoinTalk time! Photographing and cataloging auction coins seems like it would make for a very worthwhile extra-credit activity for students to allow you some more time for leisure coining. :snaphappy::troll::D

    I did indeed pick up another coin from that sale that I posted earlier this year.

    An Ancient Coin Showing Homer
    Ionia, Smyrna
    Menophilos Krabaus, magistrate.
    Ae Homereium, struck ca. 105-95 BC
    Dia.: 21 mm
    Wt.: 7.05 g
    Obv.: Laureate head of Apollo right
    Homer, holding scroll and resting chin upon hand, seated left on plinth; sceptre behind
    Ref.: Milne 1927, 294
    Ex Plankenhorn Collection of Ionian Coins

    For a collection as extensive as this one was I have not been able to find anything online about the collection or collector. All I know is that it was a German collection that was sold off through Naumann over the last year or so.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
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  20. Alegandron

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

    Very well laid out and thoughtful writeup, @Curtisimo . I really enjoyed the depth of understanding, and work. Nice coin! Really enjoyed reading.

    Makedonwn Kingdom,
    Antigonus I Monophthalmus,
    323 - 301 B.C.,
    In the Name of Alexander the Great
    Silver Drachm, 3.9g, maximum diameter 16.5mm, die axis 0o
    Magnesia ad Maeandrum mint, c. 319 - c. 305 BCE
    Obv: head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck
    Rev: AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus seated left on throne without back, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, feet on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, ΣΩ monogram left, AT monogram under throne
    Ref: Price 1970, Müller Alexander 793, Prokesch-Osten II 84, SNG Cop -, SNG München -, SNG Alpha Bank
    Comment: gVF, nice style, dark toning
    Antigonos I Monophthalmos ("the One-eyed") (382 B.C. - 301 B.C.) was a nobleman, general, and governor under Alexander the Great. Upon Alexander's death in 323 B.C., he established himself as one of the successors and declared himself King in 306 B.C. The most powerful satraps of the empire, Kassander, Seleukos, Ptolemy and Lysimachos, answered by also proclaiming themselves kings. Antigonos found himself at war with all four, largely because his territory shared borders with all of them. He died in battle at Ipsus in 301 B.C. Antigonos' kingdom was divided up, with Seleukos I Nicator gaining the most. His son, Demetrios I Poliorketes, took Makedon, which the family held, off and on, until it was conquered by Rome in 168 BCE
    Ex: Forum Ancient Coins
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  21. Alegandron

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

    Both of these Owl with Athena are more difficult to get:

    Teate, Apulia
    Teate, Apulia, Italia,
    225 - 220 B.C.

    Bronze quincunx,
    12.511g, 26.5mm, 0o,
    Teate mint,
    Obv: head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet;
    Rev: TIATI, owl standing right, head facing, closed wings, K (control letter) right, five pellets (mark of value) in exergue ;
    Ref: BMC Italy p. 146, 9; HN Italy 702a; SNG ANS 744 var., SNG Cop 689 var., SNG BnF 1421 var., SNG Tub 378 var. (all var. no control letter),
    F, porous, scratches,
    very rare
    Apulia, one of the richest archaeological regions in Italy, was first colonized by Mycenaean Greeks. Apulia was an important area for the Romans, who conquered it during the course of wars against the Samnites and against Pyrrhus in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. but also suffered a crushing defeat there in the battle of Cannae against Hannibal. However, after the Carthaginians left the region, the Romans captured the ports of Brindisi and Taranto, and established dominion over the region.

    Kalakte, Sicily

    Sicily Kalakte
    AE unit - SEMIS
    2nd C BCE
    Head Athena in Helmet -
    It's a Sicilian bronze that imitates Athenian New-Style tets: similar depiction of Athena, owl standing on amphora reverse, late 2nd Century BC.
    These are evidently quite rare. Here is the only one at CNG, in which the cataloger (Ardy?) notes that there are none found at Coin Archives, although I did find a couple on acsearch. So far, mine seems to be the best of the bunch, condition-wise.
    Ex: @John Anthony

    Tarentum, Calabria, Italia

    ITALY. Calabria. Tarentum.
    AR Drachm, 18mm, 3.1g, 10h;
    ca. 3rd Century BC.
    Obv.: Head of Athena facing right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet adorned with Scylla throwing a stone.
    Rev.: Owl right, wings closed, standing on olive branch; TAP to left, [ZOP to right.]
    Reference: HN Italy 975; Vlasto 1052.
    Comments: Tarentum, one of the largest cities of ancient Calabria, minted smaller denominations imitating Athenian owls, like this drachm. Tarentum was a SPARTAN Colony, with a little known fact that Athena was the Patron Goddess of Sparta. On this variant, Scylla is seen adorning Athena’s helmet, throwing a stone.
    Ex: JAZielinsky Numismatics
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