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Bucket list coin! Alyattes "WALWEL" EL Hekte


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Ever since I was a child and read a book about the history of coinage, I've always dreamed of owning one of "the first coins ever struck" even though I now know that to not be exactly true. I've put out bid after bid after bid but always came up empty-handed - until now!

This one is not one of the anonymous Lydian tribes, but rather somewhat earlier, and is probably the first coin ever struck in the name of a king, assuming Phanes was probably not a king forgotten by history. The coin is quite circulated for the type, which I prefer on Greek coins, as IMO it brings a character that isn't present on those that went into the ground before they were used.

Kings of Lydia, Alyattes (Walwet), ca 600-561 BC

EL Hekte, 11mm, 2.33g

Obv: Confronted lion heads (only left on flan), 𐤥𐤠𐤩𐤥𐤤 (Lydian "WALWEL") between them

Rev: Two incuse punches


I've personally found this issue to be a lot more interesting than the anonymous trites - there is absolutely no doubt about who issued these, and they are one of only a handful of coins that can certainly be dated to before 550 BC. Alyattes was quite an interesting king who I need to read up on a lot more. He ascended to the throne during a time of war as he struggled with his neighboring cities for supremacy, ultimately attaining it through both force and diplomacy, expanding the Lydian kingdom to encompass roughly half of Asia Minor. His 57 year rule made him contemporaneous not with the Achaemenid empire, but rather with the Neo-Assyrian and later the Neo-Babylonian empires- he even had a close political alliance with the great king Nebuchadnezzar II. Alyattes is traditionally considered to have died in 560 BC, but it may have been as early as 585, as his final battle against Medes is recorded as having been interrupted by a total solar eclipse, taken as a bad omen by both sides, prompting them to seek diplomatic solutions so as not to anger the gods. This would have taken place on May 28 585 BC. Alyattes was succeeded by his son Croesus, the final Lydian king before the rise of the Achaemenid empire.

Edited by Finn235
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Coingrats!!  A grail coin for sure.  I was over the moon when I snagged this hemihekte version:


No attention was drawn in the listing to the fact that it was inscribed, and apparently I was the only one to notice... so it went very cheaply.  

Your lion is much less crude than mine, closer to the uninscribed style.  As you probably know, the same dies were used for both the hektes and hemihektes.  Have you found the dies for your piece?

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You mention Phanes... here's mine:


... except it's a fourrée. (Not willing to pony up what it would take for otherwise!) Interestingly, it's a die match to some examples that are considered "official", whatever that means for this issue.  I'm not sure what to make of that.  One possibility is that the "official" mint produced fourrées, i.e. the whole thing was a fraudulent operation!  Which could explain why it didn't last long...

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3 hours ago, NewStyleKing said:

Can somebody point out the inscriptions on these coins.............I can hardly make anything out!

Admittedly, the legend isn't really visible on my coin. You can sort of see a little bit of it in front of the lion's nose. These are attributable based on style and weight as well as having two punches. Here is one in more crude style that has the legend visible


Examples that are legible are very rare, and the hammer prices reflect that



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