This is NOT an obol

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    "Good things come in small packages II" - Although at 0.49g this coin is about the same weight as the last coin that I posted it is NOT an obol and it is NOT a litra. What is it? "Une pièce sur un petit flan bien centré. Belle tête d'Apollon. Joli revers inhabituel d'une cuirasse. Patine brun." OK - maybe that doesn't answer the question - but I don't find enough of these to share a "common name". I think chalkous or hemichalkon is probably the right name to apply, and I lean toward hemichalkon. A relevant reference here (Overview of The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series, Scott VanHorn and Bradley R. Nelson)

    The rarity of these coins is not surprising to me. I find it surprising that a <10mm little coin, a dust spec of a coin, a coin weighing about half a gram, survives >2400 years in this condition.

    Where is Magnḗsĭa ad Mæándrum?
    Some nice photos and more information can be found here.
    Strabo dedicates several passages in Geography 14.1
    "The first place after Ephesus is Magnesia, an Æolian city, and called Magnesia on the Mæander, for it is situated near it; but it is still nearer the Lethæus, which discharges itself into the Mæander. It has its source in Pactyes, a mountain in the Ephesian district. There is another Lethæus in Gortyne, a third near Tricca, where Asclepius is said to have been born, and the fourth among the Hesperitæ Libyans."

    This CoinWeek article touches on the small coins and fractions - but barely scratches the surface without really naming bronze coins other than the popular "widow's mite".
    Ionia Magnesia ad Maeander.jpg
    Ionia, Magnḗsĭa ad Mæándrum, circa 400 BC, Æ 9.3mm (0.48 g, 12h), Rare - especially in this condition
    Obv: Laureate head of Apollo left
    Rev: M-A, Cuirass between
    Ref: SNG Kayhan 393

    Post your tiny AEs, coins of Magnḗsĭa ad Mæándrum, coins featuring a cuirass, or anything else that you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
    Marsyas Mike, PeteB, Ryro and 13 others like this.
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  3. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    Yours looks great! Small coins suffer when posted here, due to the extreme enlargement.

    Here is another, not as nice as yours:

    IONIA, Magnesia on the Meander, circa 400 BC, AE8 0.44g
    Nilus Coins, January 2007, NYINC show (misidentified)

    Most books on Greek coins explain that the Greeks struck small silver coins because of the intrinsic value of silver and the need for small change. The fact of tiny AEs is not discussed. Tiny AEs in my collection seem to be mostly products of Asia Minor. It is unusual to see a tiny AE from modern Greece. Was the metal content the motivation? Ease of striking?
    Marsyas Mike, PeteB, Ryro and 6 others like this.
  4. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Very nice coin. I like the cuirass on the reverse.

    One of my smallest is also from Magnesium Ad Maeandrum

    Themistokles: The First Portrait Coin in History or a Very Drunk Blacksmith?
    IONIA, Magnesia ad Maeandrum
    Themistokles, AR Hemiobol, struck ca. 465-459 BC
    Dia.: 8 mm
    Wt.: 0.24 g
    Obv.: Head of Hephaistos right, wearing laureate pilos; Θ-E flanking /
    Rev.: ΘE monogram in dotted square border within incuse square.
    Ref.: Nollé & Wenninger 5a; Cahn & Gerin 8 = SNG München 585; SNG Copenhagen;
    Very rare.
    Ex Plankenhorn Collection of Ionian Coins

    This is my smallest bronze. The man who almost changed history!
    Achaemenid Empire
    Spithridates as Satrap
    AE10, mint in Ionia or Lydia, struck 334 BC
    Dia.: 10 mm
    Wt.: 1.5 g
    Obv.: Head of Spithridates right, wearing bashlyk
    Rev.: Forepart of horse right; TO monogram in upper left
    field, ΣΠ-I below and in right field
    Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 1538; SNG von Aulock 1823; Klein 367; Babelon, Perses 380
    Ex Ryro Collection
    Bing, Marsyas Mike, PeteB and 4 others like this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My collection is heavy in tiny silver but very weak in small Greek bronzes. I have nothing to show. I see that at present there are several available on vcoins in various grades and prices. I fear all the sellers like their coins more than I do.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
    Sulla80 likes this.
  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I wonder what you could actually buy with one of these tiny coins in AE? what this "small change" too small in AE?
    Thanks for the coin and the history teaser.
    Ed Snible and Curtisimo like this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Very nice! I've been gunning for one of those severed torsos for a while now.
    When it comes to small bronzes MSC's have some pretty adorable quarter units that are generally 11-13mm:
    IMG_3530(1).jpg 1859105_1619351422.l-removebg-preview.png 1779551_1616500575.l-removebg-preview.png

    Sicily had some pretty small AEs...aww heck, Sicily had some of everything!:

    Got my butt whiped trying to upgrade this little fella from Bruttium, coin #1 at AMCC3:

    And to answer @Ed Snible's excellent question; they actually weren't used as coins at all.
    Tiny AEs were ancient false teeth. When warriors would get their teeth bashed in during battle the units dentatorcetes (destroyer of teeth/dentist) would add a little flair to the soldiers mouths, much like youths of today wearing their grills. The more elaborate the design the more talented the dentatorcetes.
    (A modern attempt at the practice)
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