521-478 BC Isle of Lesbos Electrum Hekte NGC CH AU

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Item #

An Electrum Hekte from the City of Mytilene, Lesbos!

From the desk of GovMint.com's resident ancient coin expert, David Levine:

Minted -- Mytilene, Lesbos, circa 521-478 BC

Grade -- NGC Choice About Uncirculated (CH AU), Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5

Obverse -- Forepart of winged boar left

Reverse -- Incuse head of lion right, rectangular punch at left

Legend -- D N FOCA C PERP AV N S (obverse), VICTORI-A AVGGS (reverse)

Diameter -- 10 mm

Levine's Notes

  • An extremely rare coin, this is one of only two known to exist -- the other belonging to the American Numismatic Society collection in New York City.
  • Note the amazing art work and production quality of the winged boar on the obverse and the incuse lion on the reverse.
  • The common variety of this coin depicts both the boar and the lion facing right. Less common is the variety where both face left. The version found on this particular coin, with boar facing left and lion facing right, is of extreme rarity.
  • The first coins of the world were minted in Lydia and Ionia (today the west coast of Turkey) from Electrum, a naturally formed metal of gold and silver. Silver coins followed and later gold and bronze coins.
  • This coin is from the city of Mytilene, on the eastern coast of the island of Lesbos. The largest city on the island, Mytilene was, at first, a small island itself just off the coast. Eventually, the city was joined to Lesbos, forming two harbors.
  • It is interesting for us to note that the ancient city was known for its large output of electrum coins from the 6th to 4th centuries BC.
  • One of its most famous citizens was the Greek poet Sappho, while Aristotle also spent two years there after he had tutored Alexander the Great.
Composition Electrum
Condition Uncirculated
Grade AU, Choice
Dimensions 10mm