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    Early Inscribed Hecte

    IONIA. Uncertain city. Ca. 650-600 BC. EL sixth stater or hecte (8mm, 2.33 gm). Nearly XF. Blank field with Greek inscription ΔEΘEΣ(?) around upper edge / Rectangular incuse punch with raised linear lines. Unrecorded, but cf. Linzalone 1012 (typeless hemihecte). See Heritage 3020 (6 September 2012), lot  24895 for a similar example. Excessively rare, apparently one of only three specimens known.

    According to most experts, electrum coins with a blank (or typeless) obverse field represent the earliest attempt at coinage in Lydia and Ionia, dating to around 670-660 BC. This effort evolved into the invention of an obverse design, starting with simple striations, and the first true coin (see previous lot). However our understanding of this series has recently been revolutionized by the the discovery, from a British collection, of an electrum blank hecte with an obverse Greek inscription, a great and significant surprise. A second similar example was found in a European collection and sold in Heritage 3020 (Long Beach), realizing $17,000. This would appear to be the third known example, with a somewhat clearer inscription than the other two. Although superficially similar to other known "blank" issues, the edge of this hecte and the two similar known examples display at up to five Greek letters -- likely a Δ (delta), an E, an archaic form of Θ (theta), another E, and possibly a Σ, skewed slightly. Most likely the letters represent an abbreviation of a personal name (such as the famous "Walwet" and "Phanes" EL coins of Lydia and Ionia) or possibly a dedicatory inscription to a deity. In any case what this humble electrum piece seems to represent is extremely significant: The first coin of any description to carry an inscription, likely struck at least 35 years before the issues in the name of Phanes (ca. 625-610 BC) and Walwet (610-560 BC). 

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2017
    7th-10th Friday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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    We also followed the bidding online yesterday here in Salt Lake for the other 3 coins - great fun. Prices realized met or exceeded our expectations.
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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