Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 1054





Estimate: 30'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 24'000 CHF Price realized: 28'000 CHF
Greek Coins
Thrace, Abdera. Stater circa 395-360 BC, AR 12.83 g.
Description Stater circa 395-360, AR 12.83 g. ABDE Griffin seated l.; in l. field, cicada. Rev. EPIFILA- DOS Heracles seated half r. on lion's skin draped over a rock. He holds a clb vertically in his r. hand while resting his l. elbow on l. thigh. References
Weber 2379
Jameson 2000 (this obverse die)
SNG Lockett 1132
May, Abdera 393
Chryssantaki-Nagle pl. 8, 6 Condition
Very rare and among the finest specimens known. A spectacular coin of magnificent late Classical style struck in high relief on a very large flan, wonderful light iridescent tone and good extremely fine Provenance
Lanz sale 86, 1998, 74
Gorny & Mosch sale 180, 2009, 70
NAC sale 72, 2013, 354


The city of Abdera in coastal central Thrace was founded in 544 B.C. by refugees from the Ionian island of Teos fleeing the Persian conquest of Asia Minor from the Ionian island of Teos. With a ready supply of silver and the experience of a well-established preexisting coinage in their homeland, the colonists began minting their own coinage about a decade after settlement at Abdera. Although rare today, the first issues were apparently quite large and consisted of octodrachms and tetradrachms, employing the obverse type of their homeland, a seated griffin with the single difference being that the griffin is invariably shown facing to the left at Abdera whereas it was always shown to the right on the coinage of Teos. The griffin remained the civic badge of the city, appearing on Abdera’s coinage right down until her conquest by Philip II of Macedonia in the 350s B.C. The reverse type soon developed from a simple incuse punch to contain various designs, often in conjunction with the name of the magistrate responsible for the issue of coinage. The second half of the fifth century B.C. saw a flourishing of individualism and realism in art hitherto unprecedented, with artists attaining a manner of representation that conveys a vitality of life as well as a sense of permanence, clarity, and harmony. At Athens, the statesman Pericles transformed the Acropolis into a lasting monument to the city’s newfound political and economic power, crowning the entirety in white Parian marble. The Parthenon, the magnificent Doric temple honoring the city’s patron goddess Athena, was richly embellished with some of the finest sculptures, and within stood the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Athena made by the great sculptor Pheidias. Elsewhere, the artists Lysippos and Praxiteles were in their prime. In the west, schools of renowned die engravers were busy cutting dies for the cities of Sicily, particularly at Syracuse. The dies used to strike the present coin extend the artistic competence seen elsewhere throughout greater Hellas to the northern Aegean. Here, the griffin departs from the earlier issues in that it sits upright, forelegs together and neck arched, with the nearer wing sloped along the back and the further providing a startling and effective background to the whole. The reverse portrays the hero Herakles in a human light, appearing utterly exhausted and at rest, as if just catching his breath. He turns to look over his shoulder, providing a sense that he is lost in thought, perhaps reflecting on his recent endeavors. The effect is indulgent, and serves to connect the viewer to the world of Olympus and the travails of the immortals. The magistrate responsible for this particularly handsome issue is one Philas. The legend appearing along the perimeter of the reverse, ΕΠΙ ΦΙΛΑΔΟΣ, uses the genitive case of his name to show that he was responsible for the issue, and also carries the proposition ΕΠΙ, “in the period of office of.”

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