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Determining my next play


kirispupis

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Hello everyone,

As I've stated multiple times before, I'm very regimented in terms of the coins I collect. When I first became serious about collecting, I pursued a single collection.

People of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Era of the Diadochi

I believe the title is descriptive enough. I've identified so far 119 coins to complete the collection and have obtained 114 of them. Here's one.

amastris.jpg.776dc7d2e74fa6f4ccf06c2937b5cf1c.jpg

PAPHLAGONIA, Amastris. Circa 285-250 BCE
AR Stater 23mm, 8.88 g, 12h
Head of Mên right, wearing Phrygian cap decorated with laurel branch and star / Aphrodite seated left, holding in extended right hand Nike, who crowns her with wreath, and cradling lotus-tipped scepter in left arm; rose to left.
Callataÿ, Premier, Group 2, 43 (D17/R21 – this coin); RG 5; HGC 7, 356
Ex Sigmund Collection.
Ex CNG March 1999

 

As I built out that collection, I started becoming interested in two more. Initially, I only picked up a few coins I found the most interesting, but by the end of the year I was fully adding to them.

Kingdoms After Alexander - These are kingdoms that arose from the territory conquered by Alexander the Great. I set an end date of 1 BCE. I've identified 31 kingdoms so far and have obtained 30. Here is one of them.

Bagadat.jpg.2057753c02b75e56e68ce6f85cb09a8c.jpg

Kings of Persis. Baydād (Bagadat)
Istakhr (Persepolis) mint
Early 3rd century BCE
AR Drachm 17mm, 3.57 g, 4h
Head right, with short beard, mustache, and earring, wearing kyrbasia with flaps tied behind /
Fire temple of Ahura-Mazda; to left, Baydād standing right; standard to right.
van't Haaff, Persis, Type 516; K&M –; Alram 516; Sunrise 561

 

CIties of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Diadochi

This has turned out to be a massive collection containing cities in roughly the territory of Alexander the Great - or those greatly affected by him - minted roughly between 350 BCE and 250 BCE. I've so far identified 360 cities and have obtained 295 of them. Note that some coins count for multiple collections. Here is one from my city collection.

Pedasa.jpg.e51e8bc039c9980ede3fb41808a0fc64.jpg

IONIA. Pedasa
Circa 4th century BCE
AE 10 mm, 1.58 g, 12 h
Head of Athena to right, wearing crested Attic helmet.
Rev. ΠΗΔΑ-ΣΕΩΝ Owl with closed wings standing right, head facing.
H. von Aulock: Eine neue kleinasiatische Münzstätte: Pedasa (Pidasa) bei Milet, in: JNG 25 (1975), pp. 123-8
Ex collection of G. Plankenhorn

 

The Question: Although I still have a ways to go on the cities, they're becoming tougher and tougher to obtain. I do intend to take a break from acquisitions for a bit, but I'm always thinking of the next play.

Originally I thought of expanding the types from the cities I have, and I do intend to add interesting ones when I notice them and the price is right, but the more I've thought about it the more boring it seems to add a bunch of obscure bronzes from cities I already have. I've therefore thought of the following ideas.

1) Trace back the major kingdoms from Hellenistic to Roman times

I've been doing this a bit already. For example, I have from Ptolemy I to Ptolemy IV. I also have most of the Bithynian and Cappadocian rulers. The Seleukids would present a tough challenge and Doson would be pricy on the Macedonian side. The advantage of this route is most of the coins are big and shiny. The disadvantage is obviously price. I would need to be slow and deliberate adding here.

2) Expand in the 4th century outside of Greece and Asia Minor

The thought here is to keep collecting 4th century coins, but present a complete view of the Greek world that includes Sicily and Italy. This may add more intrigue to my collection as a whole, since the vast majority of Greek city collectors I've seen don't limit themselves to 100 years. It may be fun to present coinage across the entire Greek world from a similar time. There are a number of interesting silver types, but also bronzes. Some of these types are pricy, but they can also be showy.

3) Expand to 2nd and 1st century cities

A number of cities didn't mint coins in the 4th century but did in the 2nd and 1st. Many of these types are extremely interesting and nearly all are bronzes. I would prefer to go forward in time than backwards, since many archaic cities that did not mint in the 4th century used silver coins (often fractions) that can be extremely expensive (for example: Thera). Bronze coins don't typically reach those levels.

I'd prefer to stick to one route given budget concerns. Which do you think is the most interesting?

 

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To be honest I am overwhelmed at your logic and devotion and as a Roman collector could not contribute but I admire your collecting goals and aspirations. Mine are several centuries later.

Good luck in mor erudite feedback and a way forward.

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Since the problem is that you can only add slowly and expensively to your existing collection, it seems it would be better to collect something cheaper and easier to acquire. Otherwise, you'll quickly get to the same position and have to spread your funds even thinner.

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5 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

Since the problem is that you can only add slowly and expensively to your existing collection, it seems it would be better to collect something cheaper and easier to acquire. Otherwise, you'll quickly get to the same position and have to spread your funds even thinner.

I think they're all roughly the same price in the end.

#1 Doson is probably the toughest of them, though Perseus and Philip V tets aren't cheap either (and I wouldn't go bronze there). I may have the two priciest Seleukids already, but there are a lot of others. After Ptolemy I, who I have, they're not expensive until Cleopatra. although I may go for some uncommon types to break the monotony of bronze eagles.

#2 There are several cities that minted silver types that I'd want, but there aren't too many and they can typically be found for much less than a Doson with some patience. There are a number of rare bronzes that can be pricy.

#3 There are a lot of coins that are cheap, but at some point I'll run into the same problem I have now with my Cities collection. The rarest cities are contested.

I may be gravitating a bit to #2, but I'm still undecided...

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for #1, does it include all of the bactrian kings? some of them are reasonably affordable, but someone like plato would be pretty pricey. pantaleon would cost more than the rest of the bactrian kings combined if you wanted a tetradrachm of his, and that's if you find one in an auction. bronze issues are more realistic for him.

i think 1 is pretty interesting big and shiny coins are pretty fun, just the price factor would be rough.

Edited by Cordoba
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34 minutes ago, Cordoba said:

for #1, does it include all of the bactrian kings? some of them are reasonably affordable, but someone like plato would be pretty pricey. pantaleon would cost more than the rest of the bactrian kings combined if you wanted a tetradrachm of his, and that's if you find one in an auction. bronze issues are more realistic for him.

i think 1 is pretty interesting big and shiny coins are pretty fun, just the price factor would be rough.

Probably not, primarily for the reason you mention. I'd probably limit it to Antigonid, Lagid, Seleukid, Cappadocian, Pergamene, Bithynian, and Ariarathid.

I do have this Baktrian that I like.

diodotos_i.jpg.d02228b312c227fd0c879f56a7790543.jpg

Greco-Baktrian Kingdom, Diodotos I Soter
AR Tetradrachm circa 255-235 BCE
15.32g, 29mm, 6h
In the name of Antiochos II of the Seleukid Empire. Mint A (near Aï Khanoum), Diademed head to right / Zeus Bremetes advancing to left, brandishing aegis and thunderbolt; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, monogram above eagle at inner left.
Kritt A6; Holt Series A, Group 6; Bopearachchi 2E; Mitchiner 64d; SNG ANS 77-8; SC 631.1a.
Ex Neil Collection

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5 hours ago, kirispupis said:

The thought here is to keep collecting 4th century coins, but present a complete view of the Greek world that includes Sicily and Italy

The 4th century in Sicily for a Greek collector is a strange, sad time. (Sweeping generalization). Most of the famous mints are destroyed by then either by Carthage, Syracuse or other endless squabbles, along with their cities, and you are mostly “reduced” to Syracuse, which still has some outstanding output from Dionysius, Timoleon and Agathokles . A quick look at HGC shows there are exceptions to the rule but it’s a fair sweeping statement.  
 

Greek Italy though is quite different/less bad though some lovely early mints are wiped out there too. The 7324 gazillion varieties of Tarentum alone in that century and the next are enough to keep one going for quite a while. As long as you don’t mind dolphins….

 

 

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Amazing collection, @kirispupis. I would love to see it - it is close to my pattern of collecting.

What are your considerations about the overall desired size of the collection? This is about balancing the urge to hunt (buy) and enjoying what is already in the collection.

 

While I enjoy having more and more coins, I probably do not like having the collection become too bulky, as it makes it harder to handle. Individual coins are lost among many other coins (not to mention the costs of a bigger deposit box).

Would you consider upgrading the existing topics - higher grades, higher denominations when they exist?

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I feel your pain. As a fellow specialist, I can certainly understand the journey you are on ... it is a road I have travelled all too well.  I started out 20 years ago just collecting Flavian denarii, then expanded into Flavian imperial silver a few years later. Soon after, I included Flavian provincial silver. Still, I got to a point where I was adding less and less, so I expanded into Flavian bronzes.

Now I define my collecting goals as such: Systematically collect silver and representatively collect bronze. It works for me.

Edited by David Atherton
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@kirispupis I enjoy your posts and coins.  I have two collections - a focus on RR denarii that will not grow quickly - and a general collection not much more focus than "coins that I find entertaining or interesting"...as I enjoy the period of "2nd and 1st century BC" I will recommend this period.  Here's an older coin that fits your People of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Era of the Diadochi. Son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, he murdered Kassander's son to become King of Macedonia in 294 BC, until he was forced out in 288...eventually a prisoner of Seleucus he died, depressed and alcoholic after 3 years of captivity.

"So, then, Demetrius, after an imprisonment of three years in the Syrian Chersonese, through inactivity and surfeit of food and wine, fell sick and died, in the fifty-fifth year of his life.""

-Plutarch, Life of Demetrius I

DemetriosIPoliorketesAE.jpg.4a6ca524878c086902f3d8d790c65259.jpg

Kings of Macedon, Demetrios I Poliorketes. Ae Half Unit, 2.47 g 17.06 mm. 306-283 BC. Uncertain mint.
Obv: Laureate head of Poseidon right
Rev: Prow right; labrys to right, AP monogram below.
Ref: Newell 167; HGC 3, 1029.

Edited by Sulla80
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4 hours ago, Rand said:

What are your considerations about the overall desired size of the collection? This is about balancing the urge to hunt (buy) and enjoying what is already in the collection.

I don't have a particular size in mind, though I don't anticipate it going into the thousands. I currently have a bit over 500 coins.

4 hours ago, Rand said:

While I enjoy having more and more coins, I probably do not like having the collection become too bulky, as it makes it harder to handle. Individual coins are lost among many other coins (not to mention the costs of a bigger deposit box).

Would you consider upgrading the existing topics - higher grades, higher denominations when they exist?

I'm currently working on a solution to automatically update my website with my coins. I expect that to be finished around the end of the year. 

There are a handful of coins where I compromised quite a bit to pick up a rare person/city. In those cases, if a better copy comes up for the right price I'd move on it. However, there are very few of those coins and I have yet to upgrade a single one.

2 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

Here's an older coin that fits your People of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Era of the Diadochi. Son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, he murdered Kassander's son to become King of Macedonia in 294 BC, until he was forced out in 288...eventually a prisoner of Seleucus he died, depressed and alcoholic after 3 years of captivity.

"So, then, Demetrius, after an imprisonment of three years in the Syrian Chersonese, through inactivity and surfeit of food and wine, fell sick and died, in the fifty-fifth year of his life.""

-Plutarch, Life of Demetrius I

Lovely coin! I just finished reading Demetrius Sacker of Cities by James Romm. He's certainly one of the more interesting characters. He's one of the very few where I have more than one coin.

331A0267-Edit.jpg.ac0fb5dc4d92cd91a492318f37391eef.jpg

Demetrios I Poliorketes
AE 18 mm, 5.20 g, 6 h
uncertain mint in Macedon or Greece (?)
circa 300 BCE
Prow to left. Rev. ΔΗΜ / ΒΑΣΙ Demetrios on horseback galloping left, hurling spear; to left, forepart of a lion right.
HGC 3, 1024. Newell 179 and pl. XVII, 18. SNG Alpha Bank -. SNG München -. 

 

And here's one from the city he founded in his name.

331A4802-Edit.jpg.c76d33b9dfe49e4443b2c81804b223a0.jpg

Demetrias, Thessaly
c. 290 BCE
AR triobol 14mm 2.39g 5h
avers : Buste drapé d’Artémis à droite, l’arc et le carquois sur l’épaule.
revers : Proue de galère à droite DHMH/TRIENWN/ (IS)
BMC.1 - GC.2077 - Cop.46 - HGCS. 4/79

 

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Option #2 would certainly widen the field for you.  Sicily certainly produced some beautiful and historically important coins in the 4th century, as did other Greek kingdoms and city-states in that period.  

I've never viewed collecting, at least in my case, as a narrowly defined mission to complete a given series.  I admire those who have the focus (and discipline) to accomplish such undertakings, but in my case, as a kind of generalist with perhaps a broad focus (now Athenian owls and their imitations), my strategy, really going back to the 1980s, has been to acquire coins that appeal to me in some way, be it historically, artistically or some idiosyncratic way.  The result is what to an outsider may appear to be a hodgepodge of coins from different eras, and indeed the collection is, but I find this approach quite satisfying, one that has broadened my understanding of history, art and human nature. 

Getting back to your strategy, how about focusing on all three, perhaps on a priority scale.  The fact is that coins of interest within the parameters of the three options pop up on a random basis, with some much more frequently, others rarely.   If your intention is to build a collection that might become a reference collection or used in research, I think a systematic extension of what you have based on the original concept, people of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Era of the Diadochi, using a priority-adjusted approach for the three options might work best.

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1 hour ago, robinjojo said:

Getting back to your strategy, how about focusing on all three, perhaps on a priority scale.  The fact is that coins of interest within the parameters of the three options pop up on a random basis, with some much more frequently, others rarely.   If your intention is to build a collection that might become a reference collection or used in research, I think a systematic extension of what you have based on the original concept, people of Philip II, Alexander III, and the Era of the Diadochi, using a priority-adjusted approach for the three options might work best.

Thanks @robinjojofor the as usual sage advise.

I believe I've settled into an answer (for now). Today at auction I won a coin for another small collection I didn't mention. I also pick up coins from Thracian and Skythian kings at times, especially when there's an opportunity to pick up a rare one who doesn't appear often.

Immediately I thought about adding some "snacks" to the win by adding several 2nd-1st century bronzes. However, the more I went through them the more I decided against this and I ultimately called it "good" with my one coin.

The answer came about my Demetrios/Demetrias answer above. I can tell a story about him through coins. I have his father, Antigonos I Monophthalmos and his son Antigonos II Doson. He founded a city Demetrias, which I included above. I also have Pagasai and Rhizous, whose inhabitants were forcibly moved to Demetrias. I also have Thebai, which remained in existence but was eclipsed by nearby Demetrias. I can therefore tell this story with coins.

There's simply too much of a gap between my 4th century coins and 2nd-1st century ones. By then, most of the Hellenistic kingdoms were in decline - which probably allowed individual cities to be bolder with their coinage. Although the coins look interesting, the history just isn't speaking to me right now.

Therefore, I intend to eventually pursue both #1 and #2. I'll keep my current rule for #1 in that I have to acquire rulers in order for all kingdoms except for Bithynian (where I'm missing only one) and Ariarathid (missing only a couple). This will prevent me from going crazy on Lagid and Seleukid tets.

I expect it may not be until next year that I move on these in earnest, since I still have many cities to procure, but if I see the right coin for a good price I may add it.

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That's a good game plan. 

It's good to have some flexibility, and as you say the Hellenistic kingdoms were in decline by the 1st century BC, if not earlier, caused mainly by the rise of the Roman Empire, but also the dominance of Parthenia, which remained a constant rival of Rome in the east.

 

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It sounds like you found a plan which will work for you.  Different people have different goals and passions, so only you yourself can truly decide.

I used to be somewhat of a completionist with radio transcriptions, but I lost the passion when I hit all my goals. People asked me to do too much, it took up too much room, and I pretty much have completed all my goals. I haven't used my turntable in a year and a half and I am loving it. 

I'm not much of a completionist in regards to coins, however.

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