Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016
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Lot 1053





Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 30'000 CHF
Greek Coins
Thraco-Macedonian Tribes, The Bisaltae. Octodrachm circa 475-465 BC, AR 28.68 g.
Description CISD – LÚIKÈŽ Warrior, wearing causia and holding two spears, standing behind horse. Rev. Quadripartite incuse square. References
AMNG III/2, 4 var.
Svoronos, Hellénisme Primitif pl. XI, 5-6 var.
SNG Oxford 2242 var.
Topalov 33 Condition
Rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. An impressive coin of fine style perfectly struck and centred on a very broad flan. Good extremely fine Provenance
Triton sale XI, 2008, 100
Nomos sale 7, 2013, 33
Triton sale XVIII, 2015, 427
The Mieza collection


The Bisaltae were a Thracian or Pelasgian tribe inhabiting the reaches of the lower Strymon river valley in eastern Macedonia bordering the lands of Thrace to the east. The economy was one of pastoral-nomadism, although the aristocracy certainly exploited the silver mines in the mountainous region between them and the territory of the Krestones and Mygdones to their west, the bullion of which produced this handsome octodrachm. An interesting feature of these large coins, and also the larger issues of the Derrones as well as of Alexander I in Macedonia, is their manufacturing process. From the flattening that is always present on the reverse, it appears that the striking occurred in two distinct stages with the reverses and obverses having being stuck individually. First, the reverse die, which served merely as an ornamental device rather than having the functional purpose of pushing metal into the obverse die, was hammered against the planchet, then the planchet was turned over and struck again from the obverse die. This second striking caused some flattening on the reverse of the coin, as can be seen here in the slight flattening of the raised portions of the four inner divisions of the larger incuse square. The purpose of this unusual manufacturing process is not certain, but probably should be seen in the context of the massive size of the coins themselves. During Xerxes’ invasion of Greece in 480 B.C., the Bisaltai refused assistance to the large Persian army. After they vacated the region following their costly campaign against the Greeks, Alexander I of Macedonia conquered and annexed the Bisaltaian homeland. In doing so he came to control the rich silver mines of the Pangaean district and subsequently struck his first coinage, which copies exactly these Bisaltaian octodrachms except that they are inscribed with his own name.

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