From the Price, Hunt, and Mathey Collections
Pedigreed to 1937
Circa 460-423 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 17.84 g, 1h). Inebriated Dionysos, wearing chiton draped from his waist, holding in right hand a kantharos propped on his right knee, reclining left on the back of an ass standing right; in exergue, grasshopper right / µE@-dÅ-5-o@
within linear square around vine of six grape clusters within linear square; all within shallow incuse square. Noe, Mende
90; AMNG III/2, 20; cf. SNG ANS 348/349 (for obv. die/rev. type); Dewing 1056; Gulbenkian 415 (same dies); Hunt IV 198 (this coin); Jameson 1966. EF, attractive old cabinet tone.
From the America Collection. Ex Michael F. Price Collection (Stack's, 3 December 1996), lot 36; Stack’s (9 December 1991), lot 125; Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection (Part IV, Sotheby's, 19 June 1991), lot 198; Leu 7 (9 May 1973), lot 126; Paul Mathey Collection (J. Schulman, 7 June 1937), lot 166. Reportedly ex Kalliandra Hoard (IGCH 358).
The city of Mende, located on the Pallene Peninsula on the eastern shore of the Thermaic Gulf was, according to Thucydides (4.123.1), founded by Eretria in the 8th century. It later founded colonies of its own: Neapolis on the eastern coast of Pallene, and Eion at the mouth of the river Strymon near Amphipolis. Mende's wealth is indicated by the high amounts of tribute paid to the Delian Confederacy: eight talents until 451-450 BC, and then amounts ranging from five to nine talents after 438-437 BC. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), Mende originally sided with Athens, but then, on the urging of the oligarchs, went over to the Spartan general Brasidas. It eventually returned to the Athenian side, but is not mentioned in connection with the Peace of Nicias. From 415-414 BC, Mende again appears in the Athenian Tribute Lists, but by the fourth century the city was only minting copper coins.
The Dionysiac types of Mende proclaim it as a famous wine producing city, as attested by its amphoras that have been found throughout the Mediterranean. On this delightful coin, Dionysos, who rules wine and winemaking, is shown being carried home drunk from a symposium, in a state of careless joy, which links the world of men with the Olympians--at least until the morning.