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A small ugly bronze, but I like it


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Recently, I picked up this small bronze. Note that the attribution is mine.


Troas, Larissa Phrikonis
4th century BCE
Æ 8mm, 0,51g
Obv: Kantharos or Amphora.
Rev: Λ-A. Kerykeion
Unpublished cf Numismatik Naumann 102 lot 23


As many of you know, I like "puzzle coins", though these days I have a rule that I need to figure out an attribution before purchasing it. This one seemed a challenge. It's debatable which is the obverse vs reverse, but on one side there's a kantharos and on the other is a kerykeion or caduceus. This is an ancient symbol often associated with Hermes.

To the left of the kerykeion is what appears to be an 'Λ'. Some searching brought up this coin. To me, these appear to be the same exact type, and thus on Naumann's coin you can clearly see the inscription is Λ-A.

So, that should narrow it down - only it doesn't so much. A lot of ancient cities started with 'la'. My first thought was 'Lakedaimon' and my heart raced a bit, but I shot this down pretty quickly. Not only was Lakedaimon not known for coinage at this time (and ancient sources confirm this), but small bronzes like this weren't common in mainland Greece at the time. No, this was likely some mint in Asia Minor.

From some further searching, I believe the answer is Larissa Phrikonis. As you can see from this coin, Larissa Phrikonis minted coins with an Λ-A flanking a kerykeion and a kantharos. Here's another example. Here's one with a kantharos. Here's my other coin from Larissa Phrikonis, which depicts an amphora instead of a kantharos but no kerykeion.


Troas, Larissa Phrikonis
Circa 350 BCE
AE 1.15g, 10mm
Female head with hair in a sakkos.
Amphora, grain to right “ΛAPI”
SNG Deutschland 19, 291


Admittedly, the evidence isn't airtight, but I believe Larissa Phrikonis to be the most likely minter. Larissa Phrikonis is believed to be the 'Larissa' mentioned in Homer, since a city in Thessaly would have been unlikely to side with the Trojans. It was annihilated by the Galatians in 279 BCE.

This isn't the most impressive of coins, but I rather like it and am happy to add it to my collection.

Feel free to show some of your ugly bronzes that you still like!

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As a fan of very small coins (mostly silver), I simply had to buy this one 


7 mm, 0,63 g.
Troas, Gargara. Ӕ. Circa 400-300 BC.
Laureate head of Apollo right / ΓAΡ above horse galloping right.
SNG v. Aulock 1511; SNG Ashmolean 1136.

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"Ugly" defines a lot of my collection.  But I still love 'em.  Just in from eBay a harshly cleaned brass (?) AE from Antioch issued for Augustus - nobody wanted it so I got it for $0.99.  In hand it looked better than the photos, but it is still rough - "ground chuck surfaces".  I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a coherent date of issue - I really need to get a copy of McAlee's book:


Augustus  Æ 20 (c. 5/4 B.C. / c. 6-14 A.D. / posthumous 14-37 A.D.)? Antioch, Syria AVG[VST·] TR· POT, laureate head right /  Large S · C within circle within laurel wreath of eight leaves. RPC I 4248; McAlee 209. (7.11 grams / 20 x 19 mm) eBay Feb. 2024  $0.99

 Notes: Given size, this has to be RPC 4248.  Dates are confusing; I assume RPC is in error as this issue does not have a ZK date:

RPC 4248:  "year 27 (ZK) (5/4 B.C.)"

Baldwin's: "struck c. 5/4 BC"

MAShops Aeternitas:  14-37 A.D.

FORVM Antonivs Protti: "posthumous issue, struck A.D. 14-37. CNG: "Struck circa AD 6-14"

Attribution: RPC I 4248 (Specimens: 13); McAlee 209c (RPC says 209); AMC 746–8; FITA 99 IV; Wruck 10.

Die-Match Characteristics:

Obv: Laurel-tie at T Rev: Wreath ties break circle.

Die-Match Obv.? & Rev.: Classical Numismatic Group Mail Bid Sale 78; Lot 1413; 14.05.2008



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Posted · Supporter

I always love reading your research and reasoning. I also really like little bronze coins!

MSCs have a bunch of fun, bite sized, "quarter units" that are usually between 9-13 mm.

This first one was a beast to find and is my most recent:






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Posted · Supporter

Great coin @kirispupis. Sometimes the uglier ones are more interesting than the EF ones! Here is an unpublished antoninianus of Carausius - I have it labeled as an RIC 335 variant (obv. leg. and scepter angle), but it could also be labeled as RIC 336 var. (bust type and mintmark).


BI Antoninianus (23.77mm, 3.31g, 1h)
Struck AD 286-293. Camulodunum mint
Obverse: IMP C CARAVSIVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Carausius right
Reverse: PAX AVGGG, Pax standing left holding branch and transverse scepter, S-P across fields, MC in exergue
References: Unpublished variant of RIC V 335 (obv. legend & scepter angle.) This coin illustrated on wildwinds.com.
Corroded surfaces. The triple "G" ending in the reverse inscription was a propagandistic attempt by the rebel emperor Carausius to place himself as an equal among the ruling Augusti Diocletian and Maximian.

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