Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 1084

Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 26'000 CHF
Greek Coins
Mysia, Lampsacus. Stater circa 412 BC, EL 15.18 g.
Description Forepart of Pegasus l., below, ‡. All within vine wreath. Rev. Quadripartite incuse square. References
Traité II 327 and pl. VIII, 4 (this coin)
Head, NC 1876, pl. VIII, 31 (this coin)
Agnes Baldwin-Brett, The Electrum Coinage of Lampsakos, pl. II, 12c (this coin)
SNG von Aulock 1292 (these dies)
Kraay-Hirmer 727 (these dies) Condition
Very rare and among the finest specimens known. Struck on a very broad flan and exceptionally complete for the issue. Extremely fine Provenance
Vinchon sale 24 November 1994, James & Sneja Velkov collection, 89
Sincona sale 10, 2013, 130
Found in Smyrna in 1875
To some degree we can gauge the importance of ancient cities based on their coinage; with this yardstick we can see Lampsacus was among the more prosperous of the ancient Greek states in Asia Minor. Not only did Lampsacus produce a few different groups of electrum staters in the 5th Century B.C., but in the next century, when it enjoyed self-government and it struck more than 40 different issues of gold staters. Its high-value coinage must have been quite familiar, for in the Delian inventories it is usually referred to by the familiar term ‘Lampsacene gold’. The archaic appearance of the electrum staters invited earlier scholars to date them far earlier than hoard evidence now indicates they were struck. Wroth placed them as far back as 500 B.C., Head and Gardner both settled on 434 B.C. and Brett on c. 450 B.C. for this particular issue. Brett’s own words reveal that style was her only objection to a later date: ”These coins...look like a special issue such as might be occasioned by a sudden outbreak of hostilities, and if their style permitted, we should have suggested that the revolt of Chios and Lampsakos against the Athenian Hegemony, ca. 412 B.C., furnished a plausible explanation of the issues.” The current view is that they were struck c. 412 B.C. in response to the general revolt against the Athenian alliance. Athens had for centuries been a dominant force in the Greek world, but its leading role was formalised in 478/7 B.C., when it formed a Greek alliance against the Persians that today is dubbed the Delian League or the Athenian Empire. Members’ states, of course, wavered on the relative value of benefits versus the costs of membership, and Athens was not afraid to use force to prevent defections. This most memorably occurred in 416 B.C. when the island of Melos was sacked for refusing to join, and then sold all of its women and children into slavery. Thus, when Athens suffered its critical defeat in the Sicilian expedition of 415-413 B.C., numerous states revolted against Athenian hegemony. Lampsacus rebelled shortly before the Athenians defeated the Spartans at the battle of Cynosemma in 411 B.C. and the Spartan fleet under the command of Mindarus was fatally defeated in 410 B.C. by Alcibiades. Such ventures required fresh currency, and it would appear that this rebellion was the circumstance that prompted this issue of Lampsacene staters. The prospect is strengthened by the fact that coins of this type were contained in the Vourla hoard (IGCH 1194), with a burial date in the last decade of the 5th Century B.C.

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