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Spartan Silver Tetradrachm

Spartan Silver Tetradrachm



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Guide to SILVER Ancient GREEK COINS – See RARE Collection Types

The ancient Greeks used several metals, predominantly gold, silver and bronze types for their money standards. The ancient Greek world had a lot of city-states and kingdoms that stretched out into vast empires. The purpose of this guide and video illustrated above is to get you acquainted with some of the rarest, most desirable types of ancient silver Greek coins. With the focus being on silver, we explore 35 different ancient coins in my collection which are available in my online eBay coin shop.

You can also:


Helios-Sun God

The city-state of Rhodes was created on the 5th BC century, when the three cities of Lindos, Kamiros and Ialisos, revolting against the Athenians, united to form one territory.

Rhodes, a new city, that took the name from the island of Rhodes, became the federal capital of this territory.

After that, all coins of the region, were stuck in the name of the Rhodians.

Since Rhodes became famous for its roses, rose became the emblem of the city, and it was depicted on the reverse side of the coins minted in Rhodes.

God Helios, the Sun god, identified with the God Apollo is depicted radiating in this earlier version of Rhodian tetradrachms.

The city of Rhodes developed into one of the most important mints of the entire Eastern Mediterranean until the period of the Roman domination at 43 BC.

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Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

Ancient Greek Rhodes Tetradrachm Coin

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Alexander the Great

Alexander (the Great) III only reigned for 13 years, dying heirless, at the age of 33 years. During this time on the Macedonian throne he managed to conquer most of the known world, from Greece to India. He was born in 356BC to Philip II and took the throne in 336 on the assassination of his father. His coinage is vast and can be split into two periods:

During his reign, the so called lifetime issues (his father's coinage was used for a while during this period) were mint.

After his death, with no successor, the ruling void resulted in 4 decades of civil war and the coinage produced by the Diadochi (the generals taking power) has become known as the posthumous issues.

The diadochi consisted of Alexander's 4 generals, his friend Lysimachos, who took Thrace and most of Asia Minor Cassander ruled Macedonia and Greece Ptolemy I (the most successful) Egypt, Palestine, Cilicia, Petra and Cyprus and Seleucus I Nicator the remainder of Asia.

Of the denominations issued from 336 to 280BC, gold staters, silver tetradrachms, hemidrachms and drachms were the most prolific, from many mints, and the coinage of Lysimachos has become sought after by collectors for its artistry and the possibility of having the likeness of Alexander on its obverse. However, his lifetime issues seem to be valued more by collectors.

Macedonia, Alexander III (the Great) Silver Tetradrachm, Lifetime Issue, 324-323BC,

Obv: Head of Hercules, right, clad in lion's skin

Rev: BASILEWS ALEXANDROY legend, Zeus seated left holding eagle and sceptre, monograms in left field and under chair

Grade: VF+, rare, very few examples recorded in Coin Archives

£570 (P&P FREE to UK, other locations ask first)

In the Types and Style of Alexander III of Macedon, Kings of Thrace, Lysimachos AR Drachm, Lampsakos, 299-296BC

Obverse: Head of Herakles right, wearing lion kin headdress

Reverse: Zeus Aetophoros seated left, holding sceptre Pegasos forepart to left above lion's forepart, torch below throne, BASILEWS to right, LYSIMACHOS in exergue

Ref: Price L11, Muller 24, Thompson 35

Grade: VF+ a superb example although reverse is a little off centre

£190 (P&P FREE to UK, other locations please ask)

Macedonia, Alexander III, AE Dichalkon, Amphipolis, Posthumous Issue, c320-317 BC

Obverse: Head of Herakles, right, wearing lionskin headdress

Reverse: Eagle standing right on keraunos (thunderbolt), head turned to left, ΑΛΕΞΑ-ΝΔΡΟΥ in field

Grade: Very fine example of this rarely seen coin

Prov: Sold through Spink on two occasions

£120 SOLD

Kings of Thrace, Lysimachos, Silver Drachm, In Types of Alexander III, Teos, 301-297BC

Obv: Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin headdress

Reverse: Zeus Aetophoros seated left, holding sceptre and eagle [ ΒΑΣΙΛEΩΣ] below, ΛΥΣIMAX[OY] to right, griffin seated with monogram below in left field.

£200 (+P&P, non-UK locations please ask about postage)


Authentic silver coin of Alexander the Great (320 B.C)

Head of Herakles with a Lion skin – Reverse: Zeus seated on throne.

Superb silver coin of Alexander the Great, uncleaned with original Patina.

Diameter: 1.2″ in.
Very good condition.
Discovered in Jerusalem.

Alexander the Great was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.

This silver tetradrachm coin is a great investment piece.

Comes with a certificate of authenticity and all required documents for export.

You are invited to visit Zak and feel the bustling surrounding his store. Come and enjoy a cup of tea and chat about the vast range of antiquity. His knowledge of antiquity and ancient coins shall fascinate you.

Shipped direct from the Holy Land.

Zak’s Antiquities is the website of Zak’s fine art and antiquities. Located on the Christian Quarter road in Jerusalem’s Old City. The shop began in 1964 and has remained as a family owned and operated business till this day. For the past 50 years Zak’s Antiquities has sold ancient coins, antiquities and art authentic to Israel and Jerusalem.


Museum of the National Bank of Belgium

Greeks love their history and the introduction of the euro coins and notes offered them a perfect occasion to pass on this passion to the rest of Europe. With the owl and the olive branch on the national side of their 1 euro coin they underline their rich past, the historic importance of the Athenian city-state and last but not least the fact that Greece is the cradle of European coinage.


Tetradrachm, obverse and reverse, ca. 450 BC

We don’t always realize that we carry around an awful lot of European history in our purse. With a bit of luck there is also a Greek 1 euro coin amongst our cash money. Especially this coin has a tradition which dates back to the end of the 6th century BC. The owl and the olive branch that decorate the modern Greek euro were already present on the obverse of the Athenean drachma, it’s subdivisons and multiples. These silver coins were struck for the first time about 500 BC. The Museum of the NBB shows in its showcases in room 4 two marvellous Athenean tetradrachms (equal 4 drachms) of the 5th century BC as well as the Greek 1 euro coin, issued for the first time in 2002.

Let us have a look at the historical context which led to the introduction of the Athenian (tetra)drachma. The oldest coins of the Western world have been struck along the west coast of Asia Minor in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Shortly afterwards coins also appeared on mainland Greece. City-states in central Greece (Aegina, Athens, Corinth), northern Greece (the Macedonian coastal cities like Acanthus, Mende and Potidaea) and the island Siphnos were amongst the first to strike coins.

The earliest Athenian coins were the didrachms struck about 560-550 BC. These coins have a large variety of obverse types and until not so long ago one used to think that all those different effigies were related to the coats of arms of Athenian noble families. Nowadays this theory is contested because there is no absolute certainty whether the Attic city state or the noble families themselves issued these coins. Anyhow, their circulation always remained limited and regional.

About 500 BC a completely new coin made its appearance: the tetradrachm with the head of the goddess Athena on the obverse and the owl on the reverse. In subsequent centuries this coin gradually developed into an ‘international’ means of payment in the whole Mediterranean basin. It was the first time in monetary history that a coin enjoyed such a large area of distribution and hence also this aura of ‘internationally accepted’ coin.

The series of Athenian coins comprised no less than 15, and indeed later 16, different denominations. The largest coin was the decadrachm (or 10 drachms) the smallest was the hemitetartemorion, worth 1/8 obol a drachma was divided into six obols. The tetradrachm was the most important denomination.

The widespread usage is the tangible proof of the commercial and political preeminence of the Athenian city-state. The success of the (tetra)drachma however, also refers to the aesthetic sense and ability of the Greeks and to the already well-established money economy in their daily lives.

Let us have a closer look now at the significance and symbolic meaning of the owl and the olive branch and their relationship with the goddess Athena.

As a nocturnal animal the owl can see things others don’t. Thanks to this quality this bird of prey acquired the reputation of being wise and became a symbol of wisdom. Precisely in this capacity he accompanies the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. The owl is not only represented on coins of Antique Greece or the euro area, the animal can also be found on many other European and non-European coins: amongst others the Greek 10 lepta (1912) and 2 drachma (1973), the Finnish 100 markka (1990), the Polish 500 zloty (1986), the Belarusian 1 rouble (2005), the Mongolian 1000 and 500 tugrik (2005), the 50 dollar coin of the Cook Islands (1993) and the New-Zealand 5 dollar coin (1999).

Another attribute of the goddess Athena, an olive branch, is represented in the top left-hand corner.

According to Greek mythology Athena planted an olive branch on the Acropolis during her contest with Poseidon, the sea god, for the suzerainity of Attica. The olive branch soon obtained a sacred meaning, especially because idols were cut out of its wood. The sacred wood of Olympia was also an olive grove and branches out of this grove were given to the winners of the Games. Laurel wreaths and wreaths woven of olive branches were offered to victors and triumphators on different occasions.

On the antique coins we also recognize the first three letters of the word Athens. On the modern euro coin this inscription on the right-hand side of the owl has been replaced by its facial value: 1 euro. Although the reference to Athens has disappeared in favour of Europe, the link between both coins of historic importance, the 5th century BC tetradrachm and the euro of today, is still strongly present thanks to the owl and the olive branch.

The Athenian (tetra)drachma knows a very long history and today it enjoys a second life as euro coin. It was the first international coin on the European continent and illustrated the wish of open borders and unity. And precisely this idea of a united Europe without internal borders was essential to the coming about of the European (Monetary) Union.


By Marcene Robinson

Release Date: March 11, 2015

From left: Philip Kiernan, UB assistant professor of classics, and Michael Basinski, curator of UB Libraries Special Collections. Credit: Douglas Levere

The photos above show views of a &ldquoremarkably rare&rdquo coin &mdash a gold aureus of the Roman emperor Otho, who reigned for a mere three months in A.D. 69. Credit: Douglas Levere

Obverse (heads) of a gold octodrachm of Arsinoe II (285 to 246 B.C.). Credit: Douglas Levere

Reverse (tails) of a silver tetradrachm of Athens, ca. 450 to 400 B.C. Credit: Douglas Levere

Philip Kiernan, UB assistant professor of classics, holding a Greek coin of Egyptian queen Arsinoe II (285 to 246 B.C.). Credit: Douglas Levere

BUFFALO, N.Y. &mdash Finding a $20 bill could make your day. Find rare, 2,500-year-old gold and silver Greek and Roman coins, and you&rsquove made the discovery of a lifetime.

That&rsquos what happened to University at Buffalo faculty member Philip Kiernan, who heard a rumor from a UB alumnus in 2010 that the UB Libraries housed the rare coins.

Three years later, Kiernan, an assistant professor of classics, channeled his inner Indiana Jones and journeyed to the depths of the UB archives to find them.

The collection, he was shocked to learn, was real: 40 silver Greek coins, three gold Greek coins and a dozen gold Roman coins &mdash one from each era of the first 12 Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar to Domitian.

They range in date from the fifth century B.C. to the late first century A.D.

&ldquoI must have been the first person to touch them in almost 40 years,&rdquo says Kiernan, who brought in two experts to verify the coins&rsquo authenticity last semester and is now developing a graduate course to examine the items&rsquo history.

It&rsquos the first time the coins will be extensively studied, and Kiernan and his class will publish their findings.

Within the collection is a &ldquoremarkably rare&rdquo coin of Roman emperor Otho, who reigned for a mere three months.

The Greek coins were struck by some of the most powerful city-states and rulers of the ancient world, such as Athens, Corinth and Alexander the Great.

The coins were donated in 1935 to the UB Libraries Special Collections by Thomas B. Lockwood as part of a larger collection of rare books.

However, it wasn&rsquot until Kiernan examined them out of curiosity that the currency&rsquos rarity and value were realized.

Kiernan focuses much of his research on ancient currency and antiquities, and the experts he brought in to examine the coins were numismatists &mdash people who collect or study currency.

The coins are one of the many treasures stored in the UB Libraries, which also hold original works by James Joyce, Dylan Thomas and William Shakespeare.

&ldquoLibraries are becoming museums,&rdquo says Michael Basinski, curator of the UB Libraries Special Collections. &ldquoEverything is going digital, but we remain tied to the physical objects.&rdquo

Lockwood&rsquos collection includes more than 3,000 books, medallions and additional coins from early America and England. Other notable items include a medallion of Napoleon Bonaparte and 36 British gold coins, including one of Queen Elizabeth I.

Lockwood, an avid reader and collector of rare and special books, purchased the items to supplement his personal collection.

Accruing relics and art was common practice among affluent men in the early 20th century.

&ldquoFor book collectors, owning such extraordinary objects connects them to the history that&rsquos recorded in their books,&rdquo says Kiernan. &ldquoThey could read about the Emperor Augustus and then examine a coin with his image.&rdquo

Most of the coins are in excellent condition, despite remaining in their original 80-plus-year-old casing.

A few of the silver coins require conservation treatment. The collection&rsquos casing also will be improved.

The UB Libraries will open the collection of coins to members of the campus and local communities pursuing relevant research.

From top to bottom: a gold aureus of the Roman emperor Otho a tetradrachm of Athens, showing the bust of the goddess Athena a tetradrachm of Alexander the Great, showing Alexander dressed as the god Herakles a silver tetradrachm of Syracuse (Sicily) showing the nymph Arethusa a gold aureus of the emperor Nero and a gold octodrachm of Arsinoe II. Credit: Douglas Levere


The pendant is perfect! Always happy with everything from this seller!

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Excellent and unique item, a piece of history. I really appreciate the included scroll of the history of these coins as they are likely to become a conversation piece.

I love it, it was bigger than I expected but it's perfect, have had this shop in my favorites for months, finally took the plunge, not disappointed

Perfection as always. I love the bracelet and will treasure it always.

Workmanship is lovely--really suits and sets off the beauty of this 2-century old coin. Shipped super fast and packaged safely with a small jewelry bag to help keep the silver looking fresh and shiny. Truly one-of-a-kind bling that I'm enjoying immensely.

Great item fast shipping thank you!

Absolutely wonderful. So nicely made and such great quality. The “widows mite” has a lot of meaning to me. I love this necklace and will definitely buy from again!


Athenian Wealth: Millions of Silver Coins Stored in Parthenon Attic

Millions of silver coins may have been stored in the attic of the Parthenon,one of the most famous structures from the ancient world, a research team says.

The attic of the Parthenon is now destroyed and the coins would have been spent in ancient times. The researchers made the discovery by reconstructing the size of the attic, analyzing ancient records to extrapolate how large the reserves may have been and re-examining archaeological work carried out decades ago.

Their evidence suggests that millions of coins made up the cash reserves of the city-state of Athens and much of this hoard was stored in the attic of the Parthenon. During the fifth century B.C., when the Parthenon was built, Athens was a wealthy city-state whose people erected fantastic buildings and fought a series of devastating wars against their rival Sparta. This vast reserve of coins would have helped fund those endeavors. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

While the Parthenon's attic is now destroyed, researchers estimate its floor would have spanned an area more than three times that of a tennis court, with dimensions of 62 feet wide by 164 feet long (19 by 50 meters) and about 10 feet (3 m) high at the center. The coin reserves were likely placed there around 434 B.C., when the Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens.

Incredible riches

In the fifth century B.C., Athens was one of the richest and most powerful city-states in Greece. Boasting a large navy, it exacted tribute from other Greek cities in exchange for military protection. Ancient writers say the Athenians kept vast coin reserves on the Acropolis, but don't say exactly where.

For instance, one decree dated to around 433 B.C. refers to "3,000 talents" being transferred to the Acropolis for safekeeping, a colossal sum of money, researchers say. The highest-denomination coin minted in Athens at the time was a silver tetradrachm, and it took 1,500 tetradrachms to make one talent, the researchers noted. This means the "3,000 talents" mentioned in the decree would be worth 4.5 million tetradrachms. Such a huge number of coins would have weighed about 78 metric tons, or nearly 172,000 lbs., researchers say. To put that in perspective, that's heavier than the M1 Abrams battle tank used today by American soldiers.

Remarkably, ancient writers said the Athenian reserves could, at times, reach up to 10,000 talents (potentially 260 metric tons).

Researchers caution that Athens may have minted some of its coins in gold (which was worth about 14 times more than silver). If that were the case, the number of coins (and the overall weight of the reserves) would be somewhat less, since it takes fewer gold coins to form one talent.

"Gold coinage was always minimal in Athens, in part because Athens mined silver locally," study researcher Spencer Pope, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, told Live Science in an email. As such, the ancient writer Aeschylus called Athens and its nearby area a "fountain of silver," Pope added.

The ultimate money stash

Ancient records mention nothing about where on the Acropolis the coins were stored, nor do they reveal the purpose of the Parthenon's attic. "The sources are silent on the use of this space," said Pope at a presentation recently in Toronto during the annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada.

However, there are several reasons why researchers believe the attic was used to store most of Athens' immense coin wealth. [Photos: Mysterious Tomb from Ancient Greece]

While the attic is now virtually destroyed, the remains of a staircase that would've led up to the attic still survive. This staircase appears to have had a utilitarian rather than a ceremonial use, suggesting it could have been used to bring coins to and from the attic.

Additionally, the sheer floor size of the attic not only would have provided room to store the coins, but also would have meant the coins' weight could be spread over a wide area. Assuming the attic was floored with thick cypress wood beams, it would have been able to support the weight of the coins, the researchers say.

Because the Parthenon was located centrally, people would've had an easier time securing and accessing the money there. And criminals would be less likely to steal the coins, as the Parthenon was a temple for Athena &mdash meaning any theft from it would be considered a crime against the goddess.

"The attic of the Parthenon is the only suitable space large enough to hold all of the coins in the Treasury," Pope said in an email. "While we cannot rule out the possibility that coins were distributed across numerous buildings, we should recall that the attic is the most secure space."

Researchers say that the coins may have been stored in boxes whose dimensions could be standardized to make counting easier.

Pope co-wrote the scientific paper with Peter Schultz, a professor at Concordia College at Minnesota, and David Scahill, a researcher at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.


Αρχείο:Greek Silver Tetradrachm of Tenedos (Mysia, Islands off Troas), a Wonderful Janiform Head of Zeus and Hera.jpg

Mysia Islands off Troas, Tenedos. Circa 100-70 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 16.27 g 12). Janiform head composed of a laureate and bearded head of Zeus to left and a diademed head of Hera to right. Rev. TENEDIWN Double axe below left, monogram of PA and bunch of grapes below right, caps of the Dioscouri all within laurel wreath. Callataÿ, Tenedos 80 (same dies = Pozzi 2289). Very rare. A splendid coin of excellent style, struck in high relief. Minor traces of overstriking, otherwise, extremely fine. From the Z collection, Switzerland.

The early coinage of Tenedos bore janiform heads similar to the one here, but on those the male head was bare and without a laurel wreath. Those heads portrayed two characters from a local foundation legend: Tenes and, probably, his young step-mother and lover, Philonome. However, even in ancient times the combination of the janiform, male/female head and the double axe on the reverse gave rise to tales of the punishment for adultery (!), and by the end of the 5th century the head on the coins of Tenedos was transformed into one of Zeus and Hera. After a long break when the only silver coins struck were posthumous Lysimachus tetradrachms, Tenedos resumed minting silver during the 1st century BC with a series of tetradrachms and drachms, like the present example. These coins are uniformly very rare.


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