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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Italy||View Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Greek Coins of Italy (Magna Graecia)

Roman Republic, Large Domed Ingot, Aes Formatum, 4th Century B.C.

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Called aes formatum by Haeberlin, this very rare bronze currency was a precursor to the issues of aes grave but later than aes rude. Presumably, molten bronze-iron alloy was poured into a shallow hole in the dirt. This left a disc-shaped metal mound with a flat reverse. Broken examples are much more common than complete ones like this.
AR11900. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 2.7; 1.64 kg (3 lbs, 10 oz), maximum diameter 14.6 cm, Italian mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse convex obverse; reverse flat reverse; the denarius is in the photograph to indicate the size, denarius not included, international shipping at the actual cost of postage will require additional charge; very rare; $640.00 (€563.20)
 


Luceria, Apulia, Italy, c. 211 - 200 B.C.

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In 321 B.C., the Romans, deceived into thinking Lucera was under siege by the Samnites, walked into an ambush and were defeated. The town threw out the Samnites, sought Roman protection, and in 320 B.C. was granted the status of Colonia Togata, which meant it was ruled by the Roman Senate. To strengthen ties, 2,500 Romans moved to Lucera. Roman culture merged with the native one slowly, probably accompanied by cross-cultural marriages, but Lucera was a steadfast supporter of Rome. By the 2nd century B.C., the rustic town was transformed into a proper Roman city with houses, public buildings, paved roads, sidewalks and services for travelers, accommodation for livestock with running water, and warehouses for storing goods.
GB86125. Bronze uncia, SNG ANS 709; SNG Cop 663; SNG BnF 1368; SNG München 504; HN Italy 682; BMC Italy p. 141, 62; Hunterian -, VF, rough, weight 4.084 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 0o, Luceria mint, c. 211 - 200 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, bow and quiver at shoulder, pellet behind; reverse LOVC-ERI, toad seen from above; very rare; $480.00 (€422.40)
 


Kroton, Bruttium, Italy, 530 - 500 B.C.

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According to Herodotus (3.131), the physicians of Kroton were considered the foremost among the Greeks, and among them Democedes, son of Calliphon, was the most prominent in the 6th century B.C. Accordingly, he traveled around Greece and ended up working in the court of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos. After the tyrant was murdered, Democedes was captured by the Persians and brought to King Darius, curing him of a dislocated ankle. Democedes' fame was, according to Herodotus, the basis for the prestige of Kroton's physicians.
GS90988. Silver stater, SNG ANS 248; SNG Ashmolean 1467; SNG Lloyd 596; HN Italy 2081; BMC Italy p. 343, 9; SNG Cop -, VF, spread fabric, heavy natural patina, edge chip, weight 7.646 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Kroton (Crotone, Calbria, Italy) mint, 530 - 500 B.C.; obverse tripod lebes with three lion's feet and three handles, koppaPO upward on left, marsh bird (crane or heron) standing left on right; reverse incuse tripod lebes, koppaPO upward on left, marsh bird (crane or heron) standing left on right; ex David Mitten Collection, ex Antioch Associates (Lindgren); $400.00 (€352.00)
 


Roman Republic, Fragment of an Aes Formatum Brick, 4th Century B.C.

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In Coins of the Roman Republic in The British Museum, Grueber wrote, "In the find at Vulci, besides the aes rude and the aes signatum there was a number of rough brick-shaped pieces in very poor condition, without any imprint and nothing to indicate their value; their weight varying from an ounce to a pound...These pieces would appear to be intermediate between the as rude and the aes signatum." In Aes Grave, Das Schwergeld Roms und Mittelitaliens, published in 1910, the same year as the British Museum Catalog, Haeberlin differentiated these cast shapes from aes rude and introduced a new term for them, aes formatum.
RR87168. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 4 , 1-3; fragment of a brick shaped aes formatum, 214.5g, 62.1x47.6x15.4mm, broken from the end and includes one corner, VF, very rare; $320.00 (€281.60)
 


Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 440 - 430 B.C.

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Metapontum was one of the cities where the doctrines and sect of Pythagoras obtained the firmest footing. Even when the Pythagoreans were expelled from Crotona, they maintained themselves at Metapontum, where the philosopher himself retired, and where he ended his days. The Metapontines paid the greatest respect to his memory; they consecrated the house in which he had lived as a temple to Ceres, and gave to the street in which it was situated the name of the Museum. His tomb was still shown there in the days of Cicero.
GS91978. Silver obol, Noe-Johnston 2, pl. 44, 346.3; SNG Ash 680; SNG Stockholm 192; HN Italy 1500 var. (horns downward); HGC I 1087 (R2) var. (same); SNG ANS -; SNG Cop -, gVF, toned, flow lines, slightly off center, tiny edge splits, weight 0.435 g, maximum diameter 8.4 mm, die axis 0o, Metapontion (Metaponto, Italy) mint, c. 440 - 430 B.C.; obverse ear of barley in border of large dots; reverse ox head facing with horns pointed upward; ex FORVM (2009); very rare; $300.00 (€264.00)
 


Kroton, Bruttium, Italy, c. 300 - 250 B.C.

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In 295 B.C., Kroton fell to the Syracusan tyrant Agathocles. When Pyrrhus invaded Italy in 280 B.C., it was still a considerable city, with twelve miles (19 km) of walls, but after the Pyrrhic War, half the town was deserted (Livy 24.3). What was left of its population submitted to Rome in 277 B.C. After the Battle of Cannae in the Second Punic War, Hannibal made it his winter quarters for three years and the city was not recaptured until 205 or 204 B.C. In 194 B.C., it became the site of a Roman colony. Little more is heard of it during the Republican and Imperial periods.
GB92021. Bronze AE 18, SNG ANS 444; SNG Munich 1480; HN Italy 2234; BMC Italy p. 356, 117; Lindgren 339, aVF, green patina, porous, very nice for this rare type, weight 3.836 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, Kroton mint, c. 300 - 250 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone right, wreathed in grain; reverse three narrow crescents with horns outward, K-P-O around clockwise, one letter within each crescent; ex CNG e-auctions 233 (26 May 2010), lot 106 (est. $250, realized $270 plus fees); rare; $300.00 (€264.00)
 


Velia, Lucania, Italy, Late 5th Century B.C.

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According to Herodotus, in 545 B.C. Ionian Greeks fled Phocaea, in modern Turkey, which was being besieged by the Persians. After wandering 8 to 10 years at sea, they stopped in Reggio Calabria, where they were probably joined by the philosopher Xenophanes and then moved north along the coast and founded the town of Hyele, later renamed Ele, then Elea, and eventually Velia.
GI89083. Bronze chalkous, Di Bello II.1.A.a.193 (not in his collection), HN Italy 1321; SNG ANS 1413; BMC Italy p. 317, 118; HGC 1 1342 (R1) var. (owl left), VF, green patina, earthen deposits, some light scratches, weight 2.045 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 0o, Velia mint, 440 - 400 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion skin headdress; reverse owl standing right on olive spray, head turned facing, wings closed, VEΛH upward behind; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 66; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection, ex Spink America (6 Dec 1999), part of lot 440; this coin is the only specimen of the type on Coin Archives; very rare; $250.00 (€220.00)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 300 - 275 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
GS88981. Silver didrachm, cf. SNG ANS I 345; SNG Cop 417; BMC Italy p. 99, 58; Weber I 333; Sambon p. 227, 463; McClean 265; HN Italy 579; HGC I 453 (S), F, attractive style, even wear - nice for the grade, light bumps and marks, irregular flan shape with edge split, weight 6.921 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 300 - 275 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the siren Parthenope right, wearing large pendant earring and pearl necklace, astragalus (control symbol) behind neck, APTE[MI?] (master engraver or magistrate) below neck truncation; reverse river-god Acheloios Sebethos as a man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, ΘE below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue (off flan); ex Ancient Imports (Marc Breitsprecher); scarce; $220.00 (€193.60)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 340 - 317 B.C.

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Before it was refounded as Neapolis (meaning "new city"), Naples was called Parthenope, named for the siren Parthenope, the daughter of the river-god Achelous and the Muse Terpsichore. Parthenope cast herself into the sea and drowned when her songs failed to entice Odysseus. Her body washed ashore at Naples. When people from the city of Cumae settled there, they named their city Parthenope in her honor. Roman myth tells a different tale, in which a centaur called Vesuvius was enamored with Parthenope. In jealousy, Zeus turned the centaur into a volcano and Parthenope into the city of Naples. Thwarted in his desire, Vesuvius's anger is manifested in the mountain's frequent eruptions.
GI91798. Silver didrachm, SNG BnF 683 (same dies); SNG ANS 302; SNG Cop 391; BMC Italy p. 96, 27; HN Italy 565; HGC 1 450 (R1), F, nice face on the bull, toned, centered on a tight flan, scratches, die wear, weight 6.944 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 90o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 340 - 317 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the siren Parthenope right, wearing pendant earring and pearl necklace, E (control symbol) behind neck; reverse river-god Acheloios as a man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, N below; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


Roman Republic, Fragment of an Aes Formatum Large Domed Disc Ingot, 4th Century B.C.

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Called aes formatum by Haeberlin, this very rare bronze currency was a precursor to the issues of aes grave but later than aes rude. Presumably, molten bronze-iron alloy was poured into a shallow hole in the dirt. This left a disc-shaped metal mound with a flat reverse. Broken examples like this one are much more common than complete ones.
AR12017. Cast bronze Aes Formatum, cf. Haeberlin p. 4, pl. 2.7; fragment, fragment, broken from a large domed ingot, weight 45.4 g, maximum diameter 99.7 mm, Italian mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse convex obverse; reverse flat reverse; very rare; $190.00 (€167.20)
 




  



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REFERENCES|

Fischer-Bossert, W. Chronologie Der Didrachmenprägung von Tarent 510-280 v. Chr. (Berlin, 1999).
Grunauer von Hoerschelmann, S. "Die Bronzeprägung von Poseidonia" in AIIN 18/19 Suppl. (1973).
Jameson, R. Collection R. Jameson. Monnaies grecques antiques. (Paris, 1913-1932).
Johnston, A. "The Bronze Coinage of Metapontum" in Kraay-Mørkholm Essays, pp. 121-136.
Johnston, A. The Coinage of Metapontum, Part 3. ANSNNM 164. (1990).
Lindgren, H. Ancient Greek Bronze Coins: European Mints. (San Mateo, 1989).
Lindgren, H. Ancient Greek Bronze Coins. (Quarryville, 1993).
Naville Co. Monnaies grecques antiques S. Pozzi. Auction 1 (4 April 1921, Geneva).
Noe, S. The coinage of Metapontum, Parts 1 and 2. ANSNNM 32 and 47. (1927 and 1931).
Noe, S. The Thurian Distaters. ANSNNM 71. (New York, 1935).
Ravel, O., Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M.P. Vlasto. (London, 1947).
Rutter, N., ed. Historia Numorum. Italy. (London, 2001).
Poole, R., ed. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum: Italy. (London, 1873).
Sambon, A. Les monnaies antiques de l'Italie. (Paris, 1903).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1, Europe. (London, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 1: Italy - Sicily. (New Jersey, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Münzsammlung Universität Tübingen, Part 1: Hispania-Sikelia. (Berlin, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale, Vol. 6, Part 1: Italy (Etruria-Calabria). (Paris, 2003).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain II, Lloyd Collection. (London. 1933-1937).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection, Part 1: Spain - Italy (gold and silver). (London, 1938).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain V, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. (London. 1951 - 2008).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain IV, Fitzwilliam Museum, Leake and General Collections, Part 1: Spain (Emporiae, Rhoda)-Italy. (London, 1940).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain X, John Morcom Collection. (Oxford, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 1: Etruria - Calabria. (New York, 1969).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 2: Lucania. (New York, 1972).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 3: Bruttium - Sicily 1 (Abacaenum-Eryx). (New York, 1975).
Taliercio Mensitieri, M. "Simboli, lettere, sigle sul bronzo di Neapolis" in Studi Breglia.
van Keuren, F. The Coinage of Heraclea Lucaniae. (Rome, 1994).
Williams, R. Silver Coinage of Velia. (London, 1992).

Catalog current as of Friday, November 22, 2019.
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Italy (Magna Graecia)