Curtis JJ Posted August 18, 2022 · Member Share Posted August 18, 2022 (edited) DON'T HESITATE TO SHARE ROMAN ONWARD TOO! One of the earliest and most influential facing heads on a Greek coin: Kimon’s facing Arethusa Tetradrachm (Syracuse, 406-400 BCE). Few collectors will acquire a specimen of that type, but coins influenced by it are often well within reach. The finest example, the Robert Käppeli specimen, has twice sold in the ballpark of $2 million dollars-plus (at NGSA in 2019 and NAC in 2014). NOT MINE: I’ve settled for buying pictures of them. Here’s the Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection specimen in the 19 June 1990 Sotheby’s auction of Part I: The influence of this coin was almost instantaneous by the standards of antiquity. For the first time, coin engravers began to overcome the technical, artistic barriers to depicting ¾ facing busts with realistic proportions. (On this topic, I recommend Harlan Berk’s 100 Greatest Ancient Coins, which I found very accessible to a non-artist.) Below is one of the first dies in the series of Facing Head Drachms struck at Thessaly, Larissa. These are now typically dated to 400 – 370 BCE (i.e., beginning immediately after the Kimon type, which is clearly the inspiration): Description off-site Similar designs had spread through Peloponnesos and Central Greece by the mid-fourth century. Likely inspired by another Syracusan Tetradrachm (the facing Athena of Eukleiadas), the small Federal bronze coin of Phocis (c. 350s-340s BCE) below depicts Athena in an elaborately crested helmet: Within decades, mints in Asia Minor were copying the design. Though not as close to the original as the Thessalian type, the coinage of the Satraps of Persian Caria began striking facing heads. Below is a Tetradrachm of Hidrieus, whose predecessors had already struck these coins for two generations by 350 BCE: Description off-site This image inspired centuries of Rhodos coinage depicting Helios (including perhaps images of the Colossus itself), which in turn inspired the so-called "Pseudo Rhodian" coinage (imitating Rhodian design) as late as the Roman invasion of Greece. The following “Drachms” (of a light standard, these ones 2.46-2.77g) are thought to have been struck by Perseus during the Third Macedonian War (c. 172-168 BCE) to pay mercenaries from Crete and elsewhere, who were used to Rhodian coinage with a 3/4-facing head of Helios (along with a rose, P-O ethnic, and magistrate name on the reverse). The facing Gorgon is one of the few that may have preceded the Syracusan tradition above. The “drachm” below, is traditionally dated to 5th century Parion (but perhaps Olbia?). Unlike the ¾ facing heads above, the Gorgon’s frontal facing pose may have been necessary for its “atropaic” properties. That is, the Gorgon could ward of the “evil eye” and evil spirits. As the more Archaic versions transformed to more Classical style, the Gorgoneion typically remained forward-facing: I could continue from here with Roman, then Byzantine, Medieval, even a few Islamic. But hopefully others will share their thoughts and examples of facing heads on coinage – ancient and beyond! EDIT -- FURTHER READING FOR ANYONE INTERESTED: For variety, a great overview is the ”David Herman Collection of Facing Heads on Greek Coins,” CNG MBS 73 (13 Sep 2006) and Triton X (8 Jan 2007). Unfortunately, the full PDF catalogs (and all their introductory materials) are unavailable online. But CNG’s Archive has 117 of the MBS 73 lots and all 71 of the Triton X lots. ACSearch has all 119 lots from CNG 73 and 71 lots from Triton X. (There were a few more in MBS 74 and a large group in EA 148.) It's very impressive, from Etrurian to Parthian and everything in between. Edited August 18, 2022 by Curtis JJ 11 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.