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Coin Detail
Click here to see enlarged image.
ID:     720748
Type:     Greek
Region:     IONIA
City:     Uncertain Ionian Mint
Metal:     Electrum
Denomination:     EL Hemistater
Struck / Cast:     struck
Date Struck:     BC Circa 650-600
Weight:     7.16 g
Obverse Description:     Flattened striated surface
Reverse Description:     Two rough incuse square punches separated by a cleft
Primary Reference:     cf. Weidauer 5 (trite)
Reference2:     cf. TraitÉ I 16 = BMC Ionia 1 (Miletos
Reference3:     stater
Reference4:     same cleft); Triton IX, 939; CNG 70, 271 (same punches and cleft)
Photograph Credit:     Classical Numismatic Group
Grade:     Good VF, small scuff on reverse
Notes:     Sale: CNG 72, Lot: 748 Extremely rare, one of five known hemistaters of this type. Struck from the same punches as the following trite.Apart from Herodotos (1.94.1), who assigned the origin of gold and silver coinage to the kings of Lydia, the physical evidence does confirm Asia Minor as the place of origin, most likely Lydia or Ionia, and a date somewhere around 650-625 BC. The alloy used, a mixture of gold and silver known to the Greeks as elektron, was based on the natural ore found in nugget form in many river-beds in the region. The earliest coins were of a globular shape and without design in imitation of this natural form; later, simple striated and punched patterns of squares, rectangles, and swastikas were included. The earliest true types may have developed from the use of personal seals, the most widely known being the stater of Ephesos with a stag bearing the inscription “I am a seal of Phanes”. These devices later took on the characteristics of civic symbols, although it would be dangerous to link a specific symbol to a particular city in this early period. The most secure form of classification has been by weight standard, based on two major, and several lesser-used, standards. The Milesian standard, with a stater of circa 14 grams, saw circulation in Lydia and parts of Ionia. The Phokaic standard of circa 16 grams was also used in Ionia as well as Mysia. Persic, Aeginetan, and Euboic standards saw scattered use in early coinage, limited in time and extent of circulation. The intrinsic value of the early electrum, even down to the 1/96 stater, was too high for use in everyday commerce, and early coinage must have been used only for the transfer of large sums of money, such as mercantile transactions, payment of government expenses (mercenaries, tribute and such), and donatives, either for services rendered to individuals or the state, or to religious foundations. The Artemision deposits, hoards of early electrum found at the site of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos, are examples of the latter.