Ancient Greece Cistophoric Tetradrachm  180BC to 67BC
Ancient Greece Cistophoric Tetradrachm 180BC to 67BC

The affordable prices, cool design and fascinating back story of these ancient tetradrachms make them interesting to a lot of collectors. After Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world and suddenly died, his kingdom was split among his generals. As an old friend of Alexander's father, Lysimachus came to hold western and northern Asia Minor along with Thrace, the stretch of land between modern day Turkey and Greece.

Then along came Philetaerus, himself a general of Lysimachus, who allied with another old general of Alexander against Lysimachus. As a result Lysimachus was eventually slain in battle, and Philetaerus then became ruler of the area. To replace those issued in the name of Alexander, Philetaerus had a large amount of silver coins issued in his name. This all happened in the span of 320 BC to 280 BC. The dynasty that Philetaerus left kept ruling the area, and eventually the old silver coins all became too worn, and new ones had to be issued.

So around 160 BC, the city of Pergamon took the initiative to strike these coins, which came to be known as 'cistophoric' tetradrachms. The first word means 'cistos-carrying', and refers to the 'cista mystica', a basket of snakes portrayed on the coin, which was somehow involved in the initiation rites to the sacred cult of the harvest god Dionysos. The coins were well received, and kept circulating for a long time. Even after the Roman Empire began conquering Asia Minor in the 80s BC during the Mithridatic Wars, the coins kept being issued locally. The major cities striking them were Ephesos in Ionia, Pergamon in Mysia, and Apameia in Phrygia. Enough history! Values are below:

worn: $120 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $180
well preserved: $300 and up

Coins with unattractive damage such as heavy scratching, holes or gouges are worth less than the values above, which are catalog values - please refer to our Important Terminology page on the top left for more information on the sometimes confusing term 'catalog value'.

Coin: 20886 , Genre: Ancient
Requested by: Hans van Kipfel, Sat, 26-Mar-2016 16:56:57 GMT
Answered by: Chris, Sat, 26-Mar-2016 19:33:23 GMT
Requester description: What looks like a snake and an arm coming out of a basket, surrounded by a fruit vine on one side. On the other side, two snakes are surrounding a scorpion(?) in a box, while to the left of the left snake are two E's separated by a line. To the left of the right snake's head is a triangle.
Tags: ancient greece cistophoric christopher tetradrachm christo christoph cristof christof cristobal cristopher dekadrachm decadrachma tetradrachma tetradrachme decadrachm octadrachm dekadrachma snake arm shield basket fruit vine one two snakes scorpion scorpio box square line head triangle arms sheild coats shiled crests chevrons shild escucheon insignia coat crested crest chevron creast shields escutcheon fruits ones asps serpent asp squarish boxed squared boxes squares lined lines lining bar bars triangular triangles wreath initials monogram wreathed rief reif reef wreathe wreat garland wreth wreah wreaths script inscription letter monograms initial scripts initals calligraphy caligraphy letters inscriptions lettering scrip lettered


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