Penna, Vasiliki - Stoyas, Yannis : Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum Greece 7. The Kikpe Collection of bronze coins. Volume I, ISBN: 978-960-404-242-5
(Academy of Athens, Athens 2012)
Compte rendu par Panagiotis Tselekas, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Nombre de mots : 1754 mots
Publié en ligne le 2014-06-24
Citation: Histara les comptes rendus (ISSN 2100-0700).
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           The seventh volume in the series of the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum of Greece is a fully illustrated catalogue of 1,233 Greek bronze coins in the collection of the Welfare Foundation for Social and Cultural Affairs (KIKPE) based in Athens. The KIKPE Numismatic Collection has been formed during the last few decades and comprises over 4,000 coins of all periods acquired in Europe and the USA as well as a significant collection of Greek banknotes. The collection is currently on loan to the Benaki Museum, Athens. The core of the collection consists of ancient Greek and Byzantine bronze coins. The almost exclusive presence of bronzes has been a major criterion for the compilation of the collection. The aim is to promote the role and the importance of bronze coinage in societies of the past, not only as a medium facilitating everyday dealings, but also –through their images and legends- as a convenient means for projecting messages on identity, the sacred, values, etc. to many recipients.

           This task has been fulfilled by the few exhibitions where coins of the KIKPE Collection have appeared. In fact, parts were shown in the exhibition entitled “Chalkous for Everyday Dealings: The Unknown World of Bronze Coinage” that was on display in the Benaki Museum from 01/03 to 30/04/2009 ( and then in the Τellogleion Foundation of Art, Thessaloniki from 16/02 to 15/04/2007 ( The handsome catalogue produced for the exhibition [V. Penna, Chalkous for Everyday dealings. The Unknown World of Bronze Coinage (Athens, 2006)] contains concise descriptions, bibliographical references and colour illustrations of a good number of coins and banknotes of the KIKPE collection. Specimens of the KIKPE numismatic collection had also appeared in the exhibition entitled “Les mots et les monnaies, de la Grèce ancienne à Byzance” in the Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cologny – Geneva from 24-11-2012 to 31-03-2013 ( and were included in the relevant catalogue [V. Penna (ed.), Words and Coins. From Ancient Greece to Byzantium (Gent, 2012)].


           The volume under review is the first part of the KIKPE Numismatic Collection in the SNG series. It was produced by two authors: Vasiliki Penna, Associate Professor of the University of the Peloponnese and Advisor of Numismatics in the KIKPE Foundation and Yannis Stoyas, researcher in the KIKPE Numismatic Collection. 


           The coins presented in the volume offer a broad geographical and chronological survey of what falls under the term of Greek coinage. Geographically, they come from Spain to Bactria and India and from the Chersonesos Taurike to Mauretania. Chronologically, they fall into the period from the 6th-5th century B.C. (no. 310, an arrowhead coin of Apollonia Pontica) to the last decades of the 1st century B.C. (no. 1172, a late or posthumous coin of the Indo-Scythian ruler Azes). The KIKPE coins dated from the era of Augustus onwards will be presented in a secondSNG volume covering the Roman Provincial issues and the contemporary kingdoms. This arrangement in the presentation of a collection is not innovative. A similar arrangement has been adopted in the publication of at least two other collections, both in the SNG Great Britain series. The first is the Lewis Collection in Cambridge [SNG Great Britain VI, The Lewis Collection in Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Part I: The Greek and Hellenistic Coins (London, 1972); Part II: The Greek Imperial Coins (London, 1992)]. The second is the Hunterian Collection in Glasgow, the Roman Provincial section of which has been published in the SNG series [SNG Great Britain XII, The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Part 1: Roman Provincial Coins: Spain–Kingdoms of Asia Minor (Oxford, 2004); Part 2: Roman Provincial Coins: Cyprus-Egypt (Oxford, 2008)], the earlier coins being published separately [G. Macdonald, Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glasgow, Vol. 1: Italy, Sicily, Macedon, Thrace and Thessaly (Glasgow, 1899); Vol. II: North Western Greece, Central Greece, Southern Greece, and Asia Minor (Glasgow, 1901); Vol. III: Further Asia, Northern Africa, Western Europe (Glasgow, 1905)]. 


           The striking features of the material included in the current volume are the representation of many different issuing authorities, the good or even perfect state of preservation of the vast majority of the specimens -an important aspect considering that bronzes often display more wear and corrosion than coins in precious metals- as well as the remarkable number of rarities, some of which are mentioned later in the review. The geographical presentation is in accordance with the practice established by B.V. Head, Historia Numorum. A Manual of Greek Numismatics (Oxford, 1911), and for most of the place names the form of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Princeton, 2000) was employed. A great effort in a detailed approach by the authors is evident throughout the catalogue. The descriptions of the coins are comprehensive and include data on the weight, diameter and die axis of each specimen. Almost half of the coins bear information on their provenance with regards to their appearance in sale catalogues, fixed price lists and mail bid sales. A glimpse at the pedigree reveals that coins now in the KIKPE collection were previously in some well-known collections such as those of BCD, D. Freeman, J.H. Joy, M. Laffaille, R.C. Lockett, C. Morcom, B. Traeger. Each coin entry is concluded with a reference section to standard corpora and studies of individual mints where alternative chronological proposals as well as attributions are also incorporated. The authors had to consult a great amount of numismatic literature in order to document all this material. Although this is expected for SNG volumes covering many parts and periods of the ancient Greek world and not specializing in a certain region, the more than 330 titles contained in the Abbreviations could not pass unnoticed. 


           At the end of the catalogue, there are four coins listed as Incerti. One of them (no. 1232), with the types female head / bee, is an issue of the Cretan city of Hierapytna, the third published specimen [the other two are in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; cf. V.E. Stefanaki, “Sur deux monnaies de bronze inédites d’Hiérapytna. Monnayage hiérapytnien et timbres amphoriques à l’époque hellénistique”, Eulimene 2 (2001), 129-142, at pp. 141-142, nos 16 and 17]. 


           The KIKPE volume has adopted the format seen in other SNG Greece volumes [SNG Greece 3, Musée Numismatique d’Athènes: Collection A. Christomanos, première partie: Italie-Eubée (Athènes 2004); SNG Greece 5, Numismatic Museum, Athens: The A.G. Soutzos Collection (Athens 2007); SNG Greece 6, The Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection, Athens. From Thessaly to Euboea (Athens 2011)] with the difference that in this publication, each individual coin is presented autonomously even if there are specimens of the same description. This practice resulted in an unnecessary repetition of descriptions and bibliographical references in examples, such as nos 371-372 (bronzes of Sadalas, Thracian ruler), nos 374-375 (bronzes of Kavaros, Celtic ruler in Thrace), nos 425-426 (bronzes of Alexander II of Macedon), nos 583-584 (bronzes of Salamis), nos 590-591 (bronzes of Phleious), nos 637-638 (bronzes of the Arcadian Confederacy), nos 664-665 (bronzes of Kydonia), nos 710-711 (bronzes of Makhares, ruler of Cimmerian Bosporus), nos 731-732 and 733-734 (bronzes of Pylaimenes of Paphlagonia), nos 754-755 (bronzes of Gambreion), nos 783-784 (bronzes of Birytis), nos 802-803 (bronzes of Thymbra), 1059-1060 (bronzes of Timarchos of Syria), etc. 


           The volume is concluded with two Indexes on issuing authorities, the first of geographical terms and the second of historical persons. Due to both the richness and the wide scope covered by the material, additional indexes would have been more than welcome. For example, two of them could have dealt with countermarks and overstrikes, since the catalogue contains a fair number of specimens bearing the practice for reusing earlier coins either by countermarking or overstriking. 


           There are eighteen countermarks: i. a head of Herakles facing right on the reverse of a hemilitron of Akragas (no. 150); ii. a crab on a hemilitron of Akragas (no. 151); iii. a head of Hermes facing right on the obverse of a bronze of Dionysopolis (no. 292); iv. a head of Athena facing right on the obverse of a bronze of Dionysopolis (no. 292); v. a reclining bearded god accompanied with an amphora and a monogram on the obverse of a bronze Celtic imitation of Lysimachos of Thrace (no. 367); vi. a head of Hermes facing right on the obverse of a bronze of Tanousas of Thrace (no. 376); vii. a bearded head of a satyr facing right on the obverse of a bronze of Kanites of Thrace (no. 384); viii. an uncertain type on the obverse of a bronze of Thebae (no. 552); ix. a palm tree on the obverse of a bronze of Priansos (no. 677), which has been overlooked; x. a facing head of Dionysos on the obverse of a bronze of Mytilene (no. 832); xi. an uncertain type on the obverse of a bronze of Phocaea (no. 864); xii. a star on the obverse of a bronze of an uncertain satrap of Ionia (no. 873); xiii. a star on the obverse of a bronze of an uncertain satrap of Ionia (no. 874); xiv. an uncertain type on the obverse of a bronze of Cnidus (no. 885); xv. a bee on the obverse of a bronze of Termessos (no. 973); xvi. a monogram on the obverse of a bronze of Chalcis sub Libano (no. 1084); xvii. the letters REG on the obverse of a bronze of Cossura (no. 1212); xviii. the letters REG on the obverse of a bronze of Cossura (no. 1213). 


           There are at least nine overstrikes: i. a litra of Centuripae struck on drachm of Dionysios I of Syracuse (no. 163); ii. a bronze of the mercenaries of Alaesa struck on a litra of Syracuse (no. 178); iii. a bronze of the alliance of Alaesa under Timoleon struck on a drachm of Dionysios I of Syracuse (no. 179); iv. a bronze of Herbessos struck on a dilitron of Syracuse (no. 182); v. a bronze of Petra struck on a drachm of Dionysios I of Syracuse (no. 220); vi. a bronze of Tyrrhenoi struck on a litra of Dionysios I of Syracuse (no. 268); vii. a bronze of the sanctuary of Melsa (?) struck on a unit of Phillip II of Macedon (no. 318); viii. a bronze of Perdikkas III of Macedon struck on a piece of Amyntas III of Macedon (no. 427); ix. a bronze of the Boeotian Koinon struck on a unit of Antigonos Gonatas of Macedonia (no. 557). 


           Overall, in spite of these minor criticisms the catalogue comprises an excellent addition to the SNG series. Publications such as SNG KIKPE are indeed a valuable resource for scholars interested in bronze coinage and would surely further promote research in this area. The authors ought to be congratulated for the outcome of their efforts. At the risk of sounding banal, the reviewer is looking forward to the publication of the second volume of SNG KIKPE.