Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
Online bidding ends:  8 May 2018 18:00 CEST

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Lot 161

Estimate: 18'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 14'400 CHF
Bruttium, Caulonia. Nomos circa 525-500, AR 7.95 g. KAVΛ Apollo, diademed, walking r., holding laurel branch in upraised r. hand and small running daimon, holding long branch on outstretched l. arm; in field r., stag r. on platform, with head reverted. Rev. The same type incuse l., without legend. Noe, Caulonia, A 9. SNG Lockett 579 (these dies). Boston 173 (this obverse die). SNG ANS 145 (this obverse die). Historia Numorum Italy 2035.
Rare and a superb specimen of this desirable issue. Exceptionally well struck
and complete. Superb old cabinet tone and good extremely fine

Ex Gemini V, 2009, 324 and NAC 88, 2015, 358 sales. From the duplicates of the American Numismatic Society (inventory n. 1997.9.212)
The design of the early nomoi of Caulonia has attracted various interpretations, many of which are documented in Barclay Head's Historia Numorum. Head saw the main figure as the mythical founder of Caulonia, who held a leaf from the plant καυλοσ as a punning allusion to the city name. Most scholars of the modern era seem to describe the figure as Apollo. The running figure in his hand – whose feet are winged on some examples – is thought by some to be a wind god, perhaps Zephyrus, but it is almost universally described as a genius or a daimon, a deity of a lower order which served the higher gods. Perhaps the most attractive explanation is that the figure, Apollo, is shown holding a laurel branch from the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly, and that the small figure is a daimon fulfilling the role of his messenger. If so, the type would reflect the story of how Apollo, after killing the serpent Pytho at Delphi with a well-aimed arrow, exiled himself for seven years of menial labour as penance for his murder; at the end of his period of atonement Apollo purified himself in the sacred grove of bay trees. Specifically the type would represent his return to Delphi, announced by the daimon-messenger, to assume his oracular duties on behalf of Zeus. It is disturbing that the stag seems to defy explanation – this despite it being an integral part of the design on the earliest coins of the city, and its subsequent adoption as the standard reverse type. The output of the mint at Caulonia was significant, especially considering that it was a city of comparatively little significance. It was the last of the Achaean colonies on the Ionian coast to commence striking, and Robinson suggests that its disproportionately high output might be explained by the complete lack of early coinage by its wealthier and more important neighbour Locris.

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