Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016
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Lot 1055





Estimate: 6'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 4'800 CHF Price realized: 9'500 CHF
Greek Coins
Thrace, Abdera. Stater circa 346/5-336 BC, AR 11.68 g.
Description EPI Griffin lying l., raising r. forepaw; in exergue, PAUSANI[W]. Rev. ABDHPI – TEWN Laureate head of Apollo r.; all within shallow incuse square. References
AMNG II 139
Weber 2388 (these dies)
SNG Ashmolean 3490 (this obverse die)
SNG Fitzwilliam 1642 (this obverse die)
Chryssantaki-Nagle pl. 8, 11
May, Abdera 467 Condition
Struck on a very broad flan and on an unusually fresh metal. Extremely fine Provenance
Triton sale XIII, 2010, 84
Heritage sale 3037, 2015, California collection, 30911


In mythology, Abdera was named after Abderus, a beloved companion of Heracles who perished after the hero captured the flesh-eating mares of Diomedes. In the historical record the site on the Thracian coast that would become Abdera was first settled in 654 B.C. by colonists from Clazomenae. That early effort failed, evidently because of conflicts with warlike Thracians. One hundred and ten years later, in 544, a new colonization effort was made by citizens of another Ionian city, Teos, who under the cover of night abandoned their homes rather than live under newly imposed Persian rule. When the Abderites began to produce coins, they chose to portray a griffin, as it was familiar from the coins of their mother-city. No doubt symbolically, the griffin faces left on issues of Abdera and faces right on those of Teos. Silver, fish, wine and grain were among the commodities that allowed Abdera to accumulate its astonishing wealth. The people of Abdera had a longstanding conflict with the Greeks on the nearby island of Thasos, as they competed for control of trade in the Thracian hinterland. It has been suggested that in 491 the Abderites fabricated a rumour that the Thasians were planning a revolt against the authority of Persia. Consequently, Darius forced the Thasians to tear down their walls and to deliver their ships to Abdera. In 463/2 Abdera again was able to profit from the misfortunes of the Thasians when their revolt against Athens was crushed. Abdera’s wealth is evident not only from the large quantity of silver coins it produced and exported – often to the Egyptian delta – but also from the records of the Delian League. During the period 453 to 432 Abdera contributed annually about 15 talents to the league, suggesting its total payments may have been surpassed only by Aegina, Byzantium and Thasos.

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