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Neapolis nymphs that steal your heart, a MFing MFB sighting, the coin that defeated Pyrrhos, and stranger things still...


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If this coin isn't in my year end top ten somebody slap me, cause I must've,

A: inherited a Neronian (yeah, I'm bringing Neronian back) amount of money to blow through.


Second! I hit my head and forget about ancients and start a cult.


Or B.5- I get stinking drunk and gamble all of my Nomos and lose at an high stakes game of luchador thumb wrestling. 


Of historical importance and context, my new coin was minted during the time of Pyrrhos of Epiros (first cousin once removed, on his mother Olympias side, of Alexander the Great) attempt to take much of Magna Graecia, including Campania, from the Romans!


During these battles Pyrrhos was able to beat the Romans off the field. However, with both sides suffering heavy losses, leading to the moment that when congratulated by one of his generals, Pyrrhos replied:


First things last, with the MFB (man faced bull) looking a little parched and the lettering before his feet not being optimal I still enjoy the reverse for that Nike flying in to crown the beast. 

That said, the stunning artistry of the well toned nymphs portrait with the earrings,  necklace, bushel of hair, face etc was more than enough for me to be in love. 

There also appears to be,  not just scratches, ancient graffiti in her headband! Hopefully in hand I'll be able to identify letters.


Campania, Neapolis

Nomos/Didrachm (6.77 g), ca. 300-275 BC. BC Head of a nymph with a hair band / androcephalic bull, above Nike with a wreath. HN Italy 579. Corroded and small cleaning scratches. Dark tint. s.sh./fssch. Ex Rauch 36 (1986), 14. Purchased from Rauch April 2024 E-Auction 43 lot 39


Thanks for giving a look and please share your nymphs, coins of Campania, MFing MFBs! Pyrrhic coins, Flying Nikes, Rauch wins or whatever adds to the fun. 

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Nice didrachm! I had to double check the ethnic, the portrait looks very similar to an issue from Nola.

Here's a Neapolitan MFB with a very different portrait...

Neapolis, Campania

275-250 BC
AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.92g)
O: Diademed head of the nymph Parthenope left, wearing triple earring; poppy head behind.
R: Man-faced bull standing right; Nike flying right above, crowning bull; IΣ below, [N]EAΠOΛITΩ[N] in ex.
Sambon 510; HN Italy 586; SNG ANS 400; Hands Class VI; Sear 309v (eagle head)
ex Numisantique

The Greek colony on what is now known as the Bay of Naples was one of the earliest in Italy, originally established by settlers from Euboea, and possibly named Parthenope after the local Nymph. The city was later re-founded nearby and renamed Neapolis, or ‘New City’. Its proximity to Rome brought Italian customs to the colony, while conversely bringing a heavy Greek influence to the Romans.
It is not surprising then that Neapolis was one of the first Greek colonies to ally itself with Rome near the end of the fourth century BC, and was instrumental in repelling Hannibal a hundred years later.


Edited by Phil Anthos
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That's a really lovely portrait.

An example below but in case of interest the ruins in the Procul Harum video are of an old stately home you can visit called Witley Court, in Worcestershire. When a younger (even younger) man I've listened to that song late/early in (!) the fountain it shows at around the 1.15 mark, and, aided by other stimuli, it was quite the experience. Some fantastic really old pubs nearby too. Fountain used to be drained - I wasn't entirely gone. (It's also known as the Perseus fountain.)  Anyway, a coin! -

Campania, Neapolis AR Didrachm. Circa 275-250 BC. Head of nymph to left; TAP below neck, EYΞ behind / Man-headed bull walking to right, head facing, crowned by Nike flying to right above; EΠI below, NЄOΠOΛITΩN in exergue. Sambon 485; HN Italy 586; SNG BnF 767; HGC 1, 454 var. (obv. legends not listed).


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That's a great pickup and beautiful portrait!

Here's my closest coin.


Campania, Compulteria
Circa 265-240 BCE
Æ 4.76g, 18mm, 9h
Laureate head of Apollo to left; ethnic before /
Man-headed bull standing to right, crowned by Nike flying above; ethnic in exergue.
Cf. HN Italy 437; cf. HGC 1, 409.
Ex Mike Ballerini Collection

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Here's an MFB from Nola...

Nola, Campania

395-385 BC
AR Didrachm (21mm, 6.56g)
O: Diademed head of nymph right.
R: Man-faced bull walking left; Nike flying left above, placing wreath on bull's head, ΝΟΛAI[…] in ex.
Rutter 17; cf Sambon 806; cf HGC I, 493; HN Italy 605
ex Marc Walter Ancient Coins

Nola was located about 15 miles northeast of Neapolis, in a fertile region between the coast and the Appenine Mountains. The city still survives to this day, but very little is left of the ancient polis.
Nola is known as the city in which Augustus died in 14 AD.
Their coins are nearly identical to those of Neapolis and nearby Hyria, and in fact may actually have been struck in the former city.



Another, this one from Hyria...

Hyria, Campania

400-335 BC
AR Didrachm (21mm, 7.33g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing wreathed Attic helmet decorated with an owl.
R: Man-headed bull walking right; YDIN[A] above.
Rutter 69 (O32/R??); SNG ANS 255; HGC I, 435; HN Italy 539; Sear 294v (bull left)
ex Den of Antiquity

An historically obscure city in southern Campania, Hyria may have been located approximately 25 miles east of Mt. Vesuvius. It's site was likely an old Samnite settlement, and in fact the ethnic on the reverse of these didrachms is often inscribed in Oscan.
However Imhoof-Blumer believed that these coins, along with those of neighboring Nola, may actually have been struck at Neapolis. This is suggested by die comparisons, and the man-headed bull device seemingly adds weight to the argument.


Edited by Phil Anthos
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An exceptional coin, especially the obverse. Congratulations!

My favorite Neapolis


13 mm, 1,68 g.
Macedon, Neapolis. AR hemidrachm. Circa 425-350 BC.
Facing gorgoneion with protruding tongue / N-E-O-Π, head of the nymph of Neapolis to right, her hair coiled around her head and with a bun at the back.
SNG ANS 430-454.

My favorite MFB


22 mm, 4,78 g.
Akarnania, Oeniadae. Ӕ. Circa 219-211 BC.
Laureate head of Zeus right, Λ below, eagle behind head / OINIAΔAN, head of the river-god Acheloös right, trident above.
BCD Akarnania 349; BMC 12; SNG Copenhagen 403.

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After years of struggling with the locals, and with pressures mounting from the upstart Romans to the north Taras calls in yet another king from Greece, Pyrrhus. He brings his elephants and makes a treaty with the Samnites, then beats the Romans from the battlefield twice. In doing so he loses too many men to prosecute the war, so he breaks his treaty and leaves the Samnites to their fate, then buggers off to Syracuse to work on the second phase of his world domination scheme. This doesn't play out very well so he scarpers again, back to Taras. By this time the Tarantines, who have had to diminish the monetary standard to pay for this mediocre military performance, are no longer impressed. So he heads back to Greece where a little old lady beans him in the melon with a roof tile and he dies.  The end.

Taras, Calabria

281-276 BC (Period VI - From Kleonymos to Pyrrhus)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 7.68g)
Nikon magistrate.
O: Naked ephebe vaulting from horse galloping left, holding javelin and small shield in left hand; EY above, [NI]KΩN (magistrate) below.
R: Phalanthos astride dolphin left, holding ear of grain; API to left, TAPAΣ to right, spearhead below.
D'Andrea XLI, 996; Vlasto 703; Evans VI, E2; Cote 342; SNG ANS 1077-78; HGC I, 817; HN Italy 969
ex John Jencek

The didrachm was reduced from c. 7.5g to c. 6.5g after 276 to help pay for Pyrrhus' campaigns against the Romans. However the spearhead on the reverse is in this context definitely an Epirote symbol, likely making this one of the last coins struck on the old standard.



Syracuse, Reign of Pyrrhus

278-276 BC
AE24 (23.2mm, 10.505g, 285o)
O: Head of Herakles left, clad in lion-skin headdress; club behind, ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ before.
R: Athena Promachos advancing right, hurling javelin and holding shield; wreath behind.
HGC 2, 1450; Calciati II p. 324, 177; SNG ANS 847; SNG Cop 809-814; Sear 1213
ex Forvm Ancient Coins



Taras, Calabria

276-272 BC (Period VII - The Pyrrhic Hegemony)
AR Didrachm (19mm, 6.34g)
Sostratos magistrate.
O: Warrior on horseback right, holding shield and spears in left hand and thrusting spear downward with right; [E]Y behind, ΣΩΣTP - ATOΣ (magistrate) in two lines below.
R: Taras riding dolphin left, holding cornucopia in left hand and Nike with laurel wreath in right; ΠOΛY to left, thunderbolt to right, T-APA[Σ] below.
D'Andrea XLI, 1186; Vlasto 714; Evans VII, A2; Cote 371-72; SNG ANS 1084-85; HGC I, 883; SNG Cop 874; HN Italy 1001
ex CNG

As the leading Greek city in Magna Graecia Taras was foremost in resisting Roman influence during the third century, forming an alliance with Metapontum and later supporting Pyrrhus of Epirus in his war against Rome from 281-275 BC, the period of this coin.

It was during this time that the standard was reduced to c. 6.5g, and with its distinctly Epirote thunderbolt symbol this specimen represents one of the earliest 'light' didrachms.



The Pyrrhic Dance


Edited by Phil Anthos
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Nice acquisition! I very much like this type. Mine was in my top ten for last year.


Campania, Neapolis, AR didrachm, c. 300–275 BC. Obv: diademed head of nymph r., hair in band; X to left. Rev: man-headed bull standing r., head facing, crowned by Nike flying r. above; EYΞ below. 19mm, 7.19g. Ref: Sambon 477; HN Italy 577.

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I can't get the image to open on ominus' coin, but here's one that's probably similar...

Neapolis, Campania

270-240 BC
AE19 (19mm, 5.38g)
O: Laureate head of Apollo left; NEOΠOΛITΩN before, Ξ behind.
R: Man headed bull right, crowned by Nike flying right; IΣ below.
Graziano 423; MSP I, 363; Sambon 672; SNG ANS 477; Hands Type IV; HN Italy 589; Sear 557
ex Ancient Imports

“I will remember and not forget far-shooting Apollo.
Gods tremble as he approaches the home of Zeus:
All rise from their seats as he draws near
when he stretches his gleaming bow…
… How to praise you, celebrated in so many hymns?
Phoibos, the range of songs for you spreads over
all the islands and lands that feed calves.
All high places please you, from the mountain
headlands, to the rivers that flow seaward,
and the rugged banks sloping to the sea and harbor.”

~ Homeric Hymn to Apollo (Diane Rayor translation)


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Thought I'd add my coins from Pyrrhos. I recently read his Life in Plutarch.


Pyrrhos of Epiros
Pella 287-285 BCE or 274-273 BCE
AE 17mm 4.42g 5h
AMNG III/2, -. HGC 3, 272. SNG Alpha Bank 970



Kings of Epeiros, Pyrrhos (297-272 BCE)
Ambrakia, c. 278-275 BCE
Æ 26mm, 8.09g, 9h
Laureate head of Zeus r.
R/ Thunderbolt within oak wreath.
SNG Copenhagen 100; HGC 3, 267

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