On the Problem of Imitation (Copying) in Greek Numismatics

Kovalenko S. A.

The author analyses the factors that caused development of parallel or close iconographical types in Greek coinage. Among such factors he lists special relations between metropolis and colony, which could result in the fact that coins issued by colonies had images similar to those of the coins minted by their metropolis. This may prove that it was important for the new community to be identified as that of people originating from a certain mother-city. Of some importance for imitation were also considerations of fashion connected with the idea of maintaining the city's prestige. Graphic evidence of this is to be seen in the spread of face images. The so-called «polytype coinage» of Cyzicus, Lampsacus, Phocaea and Lesbos deserve special attention. Deliberate reproduction of foreign coin-types was intended to make distinctions among abundant annual issues and thus to exercise control over them. Another reason which accounted for the existence of similar images was alliance of the cities issuing coins and some rare cases which may be connected with the wish to demonstrate political sympathy. All these cases of deliberate imitation or copying of foreign coin-types must be distinguished from quite common superficial and coincidental mutual resemblance of ancient coin images, based on similar or identical motifs used by different mints. In this respect coinage of three Pontic city-states, Olbia, Istria and Sinope, seems to be very telling.