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CoinWeek article about griffins on ancient coins

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Mike Markowitz has published a CoinWeek article about griffins on ancient coins. That's a great excuse to post my griffins! Let's see your griffins, too!

Gallienus, AD 253-268.
Roman billon Antoninianus, 2.63 g, 20.5 mm, 12 h.
Rome, AD 267-268, 4th officina, 10th emission.
Obv: IMP GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head, right.
Rev: APOLLINI CONS AVG, griffin walking left, Δ in exergue.
Refs: RIC 165K; Göbl 718z; Cohen 77; RCV 10180 var; Cunetio 1348.

Hadrian 117-138 CE.
Roman orichalcum as, 8.88 g, 22.1 mm, 5 h.
Rome mint for use in Syria, 124-125 CE.
Obv: HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust, right, seen from rear.
Rev: COS III S C, Griffin leaping right.
Refs: RIC II.3, 754; RPC III, 3759; BMCRE --; Strack 624; McAlee 549; Sear --.

Notes: Some numismatists attribute this to a mint in Antioch. 

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Here are my griffins.


Kimmerian Bosporos, Pantikapaion
Æ 7.23g, 20mm, 11h.
Circa 325-310 BCE
Head of bearded Satyr to right / Π-Α-Ν around forepart of griffin to left; sturgeon to left below
MacDonald 69; SNG BM Black Sea 869-71; SNG Stancomb 542; HGC 7, 113



Ionia, Phokaia
Circa 350-300 BCE
Æ 5.52g, 18mm, 12h
Head of Hermes to left, wearing winged petasos fastened under chin
Forepart of griffin to left; [ΦΩ]KAEΩ[N] below.
BMC -, cf. 99-100; SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen -, cf. 1041-2. 



Thrace, Abdera
AR Tetrobol 311-280 BCE
Obv: Griffin crouching left on club.
Laureate head of Apollo right within linear square.
SNG Copenhagen 366.
Ex Frank Robinson
Ex Rauch



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Teos, Ionia

320-294 BC
AR Diobol (10mm, 0.92g)
Mentor magistrate.
O: Griffin seated right, with left forepaw raised.
R: Lyre; MENTΩP (magistrate) downward to right.
Kinns 95; SNG Kayhan 611v; Imhoof 126A
ex MRB Coins



Abdera, Thrace

352-323 BC
AE Dichalkon (14.5mm, 4.19g)
O: Griffin lying right on club; [star] above, MENAN (magistrate) below.
R: Laureate head of Apollo right within linear square; AB∆-HPI-TE-[ΩN] around.
SNG Cop 374; AMNG II 221; BMC Thrace 75; 83v (MEN)
ex Forvm Ancient Coins

“Beware of the sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that do not bark, the Grypes (Griffins) who dwell about the flood of Plouton's stream that flows with gold. Do not approach them.”
~ Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound)


Edited by Phil Anthos
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Ionia, Phokaia. AE14, civic issue, 350-300 BC.

Obv: Female head left, hair in a sphendone.
Rev: Head of griffin left.
BMC 91-93



Ionia, Smyrna. AE19. Zeus/Griffin

Obv: Laureate head of Zeus Akraios right.
Rev: CMYΡNAIΩN, griffin walking right, wheel before.



Uncertain AE14. Griffin

Obv: Head right, border of dots.
Rev: Griffin seated right, left paw raised.
11mm., 0.5g,



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Not counting the Roman Republican coins I have with Roma wearing helmets decorated with stylized representations of griffins' beaks and wings, I have four ancient coins depicting griffins -- or gryphons, as the word is sometimes spelled. (I admit that I'm not consistent in which spelling I use.)

Cimmerian Bosporos, Pantikapaion, AE 19 mm., ca. 320-310 BCE, minted under Perisad I, 345-310 BC. Obv. Bearded head of satyr (Pan), right / Rev. Forepart of griffin left; below, sturgeon left; Π-A-N [PAN] around. Anokhin (2011) 1023 [Anokhin, V.A., Античные Монеты Северного Причерноморья (Ancient Coins of the Northern Black Sea Coast) (Kiev. 2011) (see https://bosporan-kingdom.com/111-3141/)]; Seaby 1700 [Sear, David, Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. 1: Europe (Seaby 1979) at p. 169]; BMC 3 Thrace 20 [R.S. Poole, ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 3, The Tauric Chersonese, Sarmatia, Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, etc. (London, 1877) at p. 7]; HGC 7, 113 [Hoover, Oliver D., Handbook of Coins of Northern and Central Anatolia, Pontos, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lykaonia, and Kappadokia (with Kolchis and the Kimmerian Bosporos), 5th to 1st Centuries BC, The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series, Volume 7 (Lancaster, PA, 2012); MacDonald 69 [MacDonald, David, An Introduction to the History and Coinage of the Kingdom of the Bosporus. Classical Numismatic Studies 5 (Lancaster, 2005)]; SNG BM Black Sea 869-870 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain, Volume IX, British Museum, Part 1: The Black Sea (London, 1993); available online at http://www.sylloge-nummorum-graecorum.org; see SNGuk_0901_0869 and SNGuk_0901_0870]; Anokhin (1986) 111 [Anokhin, V.A., Monetnoye delo Bospora (The Coinage of the Bosporus (Kiev, 1986)]. 20 mm., 7.87 g., 12 h. Purchased from Sphinx Numismatics, Markham ON Canada, Dec. 2020.


Roman Republic, L. Papius, AR Serrate Denarius, 79 BCE. Obv. Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat skin tied under chin; control-symbol of lyre behind/ Rev. Gryphon prancing right, control-symbol of lyre-key below, L. PAPI in exergue. Crawford 384/1 (see also Crawford Vol. II Plate LXVII, control-symbol pair 127 & p. 788), RSC I Papia 1, Sear RCV I 311 (ill.), Harlan, RRM I Ch. 7 at pp. 32-35, BMCRR Rome 2977-3095 [control-symbol pair of lyre and lyre-key is not listed in BMCRR]. 19 mm., 3.79 g., 9 h. [Double die match to two examples depicted at https://www.bonannocoins.com/l_papius/l_papi_coins.php?type_id=127.00 .]



Philip II, AE Tetrassarion, 247-249 AD, Moesia Inferior, Tomis [now Constanţa, Romania]. Obv. Bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, Μ ΙΟΥΛ ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟC ΚΑΙCΑΡ / Rev. Griffin seated left with right paw on top of wheel [representing Nemesis*], ΜΗ-ΤΡΟ-Π-ΠΟ, continued in exergue in two lines: NTOΥ ΤΟΜΕ/ΩϹ (ME ligate), Δ in right field [signifying the denomination, 4 assaria]. 27 mm., 12.22 g. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] VIII Online 28171 [temporary ID number] (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/type/28171) [this coin is Specimen 7, used as primary illustration for type, see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coin/156187 ]; Varbanov 5781 [Varbanov, Ivan, Greek Imperial Coins And Their Values, Volume I: Dacia, Moesia Superior & Moesia Inferior (English Edition) (Bourgas, Bulgaria, 2005)]. Purchased from Herakles Numismatics, Jan. 2021; ex. I-Nummis, Paris, Mail Bid Sale 6, Nov. 7, 2008, Lot 399  (see https://www.coinarchives.com/a/openlink.php?l=239902|348|399|a3b582d0b87f863b39d084dd851a7a89). [“Scarce”: 11 specimens in RPC (including this coin), 6 examples in ACSearch (including this coin).]


*See https://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/8/ : “The image of a griffin supporting one of its forepaws on a wheel appears in Roman art by the first century AD. The wheel, a symbol of the cyclical movement of human fortune, and the winged griffin are both distinctive attributes of Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, who is also often represented with wings. In a first-century AD wall painting from the House of the Fabii at Pompeii, Apollo and two female figures are accompanied by a winged griffin with a wheel. This motif also occurs on coins of Alexandria dating to the reign of the emperor Domitian (AD 81–96). Scenes depicting Nemesis with a griffin are especially common during the second and third centuries AD and occur in many different media, including coins, gems, statues, and funerary and votive reliefs. The particular image of a griffin resting its paw on a wheel, typically seated at the foot of Nemesis, is so pervasive that it eventually became a symbol for the goddess herself. For example, a limestone mold of the second to third centuries AD from Egypt, possibly from Alexandria, shows a griffin and a wheel with the Greek inscription Nemesis.

 Representations of the griffin with a wheel unaccompanied by Nemesis, as in the Getty mosaic, are particularly common in North Africa and the eastern periphery of the Roman Empire. The motif appears in the second and third centuries AD in Egyptian statuettes in faience [see image at https://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/assets/images/pics/pic_30_faience-egyptian-statuette.jpg], relief stelai from the amphitheater at Leptis Magna in present-day Libya; tomb paintings in Jordan; a votive marble statue from Erez, Israel, bearing a dedicatory inscription in Greek (dated AD 210–211); gems from Caesarea Maritima in Israel and Gadara in Jordan; and terracotta tesserae from Palmyra. While the worship of Nemesis was widespread across the Roman Empire, it was particularly prevalent in Egypt, where she had a pre-Roman cult, and in Syria and the surrounding regions, where she was associated with several important local deities, including the classical goddesses Tyche (personification of fortune) and Nike (personification of victory) and the Arabic deities Allath (goddess of war) and Manawat (goddess of fate).” [Footnotes omitted.]

Gallienus, Billon Antoninianus, 267-268 AD, Rome Mint, 4th Officina, 10th emission (Göbl and Reinhardt). Obv. Radiate head right, GALLIENVS AVG / Rev. Gryphon walking left, APOLLINI CONS AVG; Δ [Delta = 4th Officina] in exergue. RIC V-1 166, RSC IV 76, Sear RCV III 10180, Wolkow 4a4, Göbl MIR Band 36, No. 718b  [ill. at http://www258.pair.com/denarius/coinage.htm (Ed Flinn's site); not ill. in Reinhardt w/radiate head right & this obv. legend]. 20.5 mm., 3.29 g., 6 h. 


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I finally read the Mike Markowitz article in Coin Week, and guess who's being quoted when the author says “'[W]hen a griffin is depicted on an ancient Roman coin with its paw on a wheel, it represents Nemesis, with the wheel representing the cyclical nature of fortune[20]'" (citing www.cointalk.com/threads/griffins-as-representations-of-nemesis.374292/)? None other than yours truly, from an old Coin Talk post of mine about my Philip II Tetrassarion from Tomis in Moesia Inferior (see photo above). I must say I'm flattered; I've never been quoted as an authority on ancient numismatics in Coin Week or anywhere else before! But how did he know I had any idea what I was talking about?

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I had  Griffon / Gryphon collection theme going for a while. Here is a small sub-set.

I have about 40 L Papius varieties. Here are a couple.

L Papius Denarius Serratus

Obv:– Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat skin tied under chin. Behind head, Shoe.
Rev:– Gryphon running right; in ex., L. PAPI.; in field, Sandal
Minted in Rome from . B.C. 79.
Reference(s) – RSC Papia 1. RRC 384/1. RCTV 311.
Symbol variety – RRC -. Babelon -. BMCRR -.
3.78g. 19.71 mm. 180 degrees.

An unpublished symbol pair with five examples currently known. This is likely the best of the five examples. (Richard Schaefer)


Obv:– Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat skin tied under chin. Behind head, Dolphin wrapped around anchor.
Rev:– Gryphon running right; in ex., L. PAPI.; in field, Hippocamp
Minted in Rome from . B.C. 79.
Reference(s) – RSC Papia 1. RRC 384/1. RCTV 311.
Symbol variety – RRC -. Babelon -. BMCRR -.

A previously unknown symbol pair and the only known example.



Stater / Tetradrachm

Obv:– ABDH-RITEWN , Griffin seated left, raising right foreleg.
Rev:– EPI PU-QEW, Laureate head of Apollo right.
Minted in Abdera, 365 - 345 B.C. Magistrate Pytheos.
Reference:– May 549 (May S. 293 und Taf. XXIV, 549. AMNG 156 und Taf. III, 13)

Old edge chip between 9 o'clock and 11 o'clock probably accounts for the slightly low weight

9.10g, 22.52mm, 45 degrees



Obv:– Griffin springing left.
Rev:– GR-W-TH-S, laureate head of Apollo left in linear square, within incuse square
Minted in Abdera, 365 - 345 B.C.
Reference:– May 324

Obv:– Griffin seated left
Rev:– PO-MN-EM-ON, Kantharos in square.
Minted in Abdera, Period VII c. 386/5 - 375 B.C.
Reference:– May 440, Group CXVI. Magistrate Romnemon. Same dies citing 3 examples, Oxford (ex May, ex Spink (1947) ex Kedros (1938)), Berlin, Lischine
2.39g, 14.44mm, 180o


Ar triobol
Obv:– Griffin seated left, club beneath, HPA above (Magistrate).
Rev:– ABD-HRI-TE-WN, Laureate head of Apollo right in square.
Minted in Abdera, VIII th period. 352 - 323 B.C. (AMNG)
Reference:– May -. AMNG II, 204, pl. III, #15
1.57g, 15.29mm, 0o



Ar Drachm
Obv:– Griffin with curled wings seated right, forepaw raised
Rev:– Rough quadripartite incuse square
Minted in Teos, Ionia. Circa 540-478 B.C.

Weight 5.68g. Size 16.44 mm
Test cut.


Ar trihemiobol
Obv:– Griffin with curled wings seated right, forepaw raised
Rev:– Rough quadripartite incuse square

Weight 1.08g. Size 11.93 mm


Ar tetartemorion

Obv:– Griffin with curled wings seated right, forepaw raised
Rev:– Rough quadripartite incuse square
Minted in Teos, Ionia

0.270g. 7.5mm


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