IONIA. Phokaia. Circa 625/0-522 BC.
Hekte (Electrum, 9 mm, 2.16 g, 1 h). Forepart of a seal to right; below, annulet. Rev.
Incuse square punch. Bodenstedt -. Boston MFA -. SNG Copenhagen -. SNG von Aulock -. Triton XIII (2010) 186 var. (behind seal, dolphin downward). An apparently unpublished variety of an extremely rare type. A beautiful piece with an incredibly charming rendering of the seal. Struck from somewhat worn dies as is usual for Phokaia's early series, otherwise,
good very fine.
From a British collection of electrum coins from Lesbos and Ionia, formed in the early 2000s.
Throughout the centuries, few animals have been as popular as seals. Their large, dark eyes not only optimally adapt them to life under water, they also perfectly fulfill the 'baby schema', juvenile features that lead humans to feel affection for them. Furthermore, the animals are also incredibly intelligent, perhaps even more so than dolphins, and boast a very good memory, to the degree that one of these beautiful creatures, a sea lion named Rocky, memorized no less than ninety graphic symbols in human captivity.
It is worth noting that the name Phokaia is derived from the Greek word φῶκαι, which translates as 'seals' and is still found, as a Greek loanword, in the modern Romance languages today (Fr. 'phoque', It./Span./Portug. 'foca'). Unsurprisingly, the lovely animals served as a badge on Phokaia's coins, most commonly in the form of a small seal below or behind a larger main type, whereas the earliest coinage still retains the seal as a primary motif.