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Paired Hearts of Cyrene


Image of Paired Hearts of Cyrene
  • Image of Paired Hearts of Cyrene
  • Image of Paired Hearts of Cyrene

Cyrene/Kyrene (Lybia) drachm coin (520-480 BC)

A Valentine coin!

The stylized, symmetrical heart symbols we see today date back to at least the 6th century BC. Far from resembling an anatomical heart, how did this popular symbol get its shape?

They are in fact seeds or pods from an extinct plant known as silphium. Silphium was not just any ordinary plant. The seeds were in high demand in the ancient world and were worth their weight in silver. The little 'heart shaped' seeds were prized for their effectiveness as a contraceptive, supplying the entire Mediterranean world.

The plant was extremely difficult to domesticate and grew in only in a few locations in North Africa. The ancient coastal city of Cyrene was very well known for growing local silphium and many of the city's coins boasted images of this prized plant's seeds. The plant is now extinct and has been since the 2nd-3rd century BC, likely from over-harvesting.

This coin is a faithful reproduction of a silver coin minted in Cyrene during the height of the ancient silphium trade (520-480 BC).

- Hot struck from 3-3.5g of 99.9 pure silver
- ~15mm diameter
- Just like the originals, each is hand struck, so allow for slight irregularity and variance from the photos
- Each coin shipped outside of Canada is marked discreetly with a tiny punch on the back or side making it a legal 'replica'