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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Coinage of Phanes

Triton XIX, Lot: 2056. Estimate $30000.
Sold for $70000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Ephesos. Phanes. Circa 625-600 BC. EL Trite (14mm, 4.67 g). ΦANEOS (in retrograde archaic Greek), stag grazing right, its dappled coat indicated by indentations on the body / Two incuse punches, each with raised intersecting lines. Weidauer 40; SNG München 14; ACGC 54; GPCG p. 98, 3; Kraay & Hirmer 585. Near EF. Very rare, fewer than twenty trites of Phanes known, arguably the finest in private hands.

From the collection of Dr. Lawrence A. Adams. Ex Classical Numismatic Group Inventory 922163.

The celebrated coins of Phanes – the first coins on which a legend appears – are known to be among the earliest of Greek coins, as a hemihekte (twelfth stater) of the issue was found in the famous foundation deposit of the temple of Artemis at Ephesos. It is this find spot, along with the design of the grazing stag (an animal associated with Artemis and which was used on later Ephesian issues), that has suggested Ephesos as the mint.

The Phanes coinage consists of seven denominations, from stater down to 1/96 stater, with some denominations occurring in different varieties (the stag facing in different directions and sometimes associated with the symbol of a pentagram or a triad of pellets). Only the two largest denominations bear the name of Phanes. The approximately four known staters carry the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ (or similar) (“I am the badge of Phanes”), and the trites (third staters) bear just the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ (“of Phanes”). The Phanes who issued these coins is otherwise unattested. The use of a personal name at this early point in the development of coinage is instructive. We know from these coins that the responsibility for the issue was personal – whether the issuer was an official or a private individual – rather than collective, i.e. the citizenry as a whole.