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about a coin

I think I already wrote that I am slowly getting involved in another hobby: numismatic, the hobby of kings. It happened by chance. Browsing for stuff, I ended up on an internet auction and I found this beautiful silver coin and seemed nobody wanted it so I just got it.

I always thought ancient coins would be necessarily expensive, but it turns out that is not the case. These coins’ value is merely what the market would pay for them. They have no instrinsic value. The metal, even when is precious, is very little: historical value does not have price tag. Therefore, a nice little IV century coin can cost a few dozen bucks, if not too many people are willing to buy it!

So here’s my first coin, of course it has a nautical there. On the face is a beautiful depiction of a warship, with a decorative star. Probably a quadrireme or quinquereme. You can clearly see all elements, including the eye and the parexeiresia. Really a beautiful depiction!

On the obverse side it show Apollo, his hair braided.

The funniest part of this hobby, I found out, is the research you need to do on the coins. In fact you need to find references, which means papers and books written by archeologists where that same coin is depicted and described. References should provide also the dimension and weight of similar coins unhearted in the past by archeologists. By comparing the design, the weight and the size, you can ascertain that your coin is real – or that at least is a well done fake!

So, I found reference for this coin on the Recueil général des monnaies grecques d'Asie mineur, by W.H. Waddington. It is a silver hemidracm (that is, half a dracma) from the polis of Kios, or Cius, in Bythinia. It is 13mm in diameter and weights 2,32 grams. It was struck between 350 and 300 b.c. At the beginning of this period the polis was independent: at the end it was under Macedon, first under Alexander and then his brother and successor Philip III Arrihdaeus. Since Waddington says that under the Macedonians Kios only coined bronze, this should be the coin of indipendent Kios. It is coined in the Persian standard of weights, which clearly show where the business of Cius' merchants was... The name on the coin translates as MILETOS, and is that of the magistrate who struck it (TOS is barely visible under the ship). Waddington register other known names of Kios’ magistrates, Dimitrios and Krisos.

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