IONIA. Ephesos, or an uncertain Ionian mint, circa 600-550 BC. 1/24 Stater (Electrum, 8 mm, 0.70 g), Phokaic standard. Bee seen from above within linear circle overlapped by its wings. Rev. Incuse square. BMC -. Rosen -. SNG Kayhan I -. SNG Kayhan II -, cf. 1221 (an 1/48 Stater of differing style and without the linear circle). SNG von Aulock -. Of the highest rarity and great interest. Light marks on the reverse, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.
From the E. Beckenbauer Collection, privately acquired in the 1990s.
S. Karwiese, whose somewhat confusing study of the early coinage of Ephesos has challenged much criticism, attributed all electrum coins with a bee on the obverse to Ephesos, but it is at present still unclear at what point the city adapted the industrious insect as coat of arms. Its earliest coinage, struck in the late 7th century under the mysterious Phanes to the Lydo-Milesian standard, used Artemis' stag on the obverse and a very distinct reverse incuse. The few known early electrum coins with a bee, on the other hand, differ greatly in style, the shape of the incuse and the weight standard. Their attribution to Ephesos could therefore be anachronistic and they should thus be assigned to an uncertain Ionian mint for the time being. Our coin shows a particularly unusual rendering of a bee, with thin and long-span wings that overlap a linear circle surrounding the insect's body.