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Research Coins: Feature Auction


From the Kunstfreund Sale and the Hermitage Collection

Sale: Triton XII, Lot: 328. Estimate $25000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 5 January 2009. 
Sold For $42500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ISLANDS off CARIA, Kos. Circa 480-475 BC. AR 3 Sigloi (16.48 g, 8h). Diskobolos, nude, hurling diskos right; tripod to left, KΩION to right / Crab in dotted square within incuse square. Barron, Diskoboloi, group B, 17 (A13/P12); SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 9; Traité II 1740; Boston MFA 2016 = Warren 1187; Ward 701; Pozzi 2648 (all from the same dies). Good VF, toned, a couple minor die breaks. Extremely rare.

From the W.B. and R.E. Montgomery Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 2 (22 February 1990), lot 200; C. Gillet Collection (Leu & Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974 [Kunstfreund]), lot 165; Schlessinger 13 [Hermitage] (4 February 1935), lot 1336.

The early 5th century Diskoboloi of Kos represent a wonderful example of numismatic art in the early Classical period. The style is clearly archaized, more akin to earlier numismatic and figural vase representations of athletic events. Originally, in the mid-eighteenth century, scholars thought the type represented Apollo dancing beside his tripod, beating a tambourine or drum. Shortly after the turn of the century, however, more detailed analysis revealed that the scene was of an athletic event, and depicted a diskos thrower in mid-motion. Specifically, the event commemorated is thought to be the festival of Apollo at Triopion, which involved athletic events where the contestants vied for bronze tripods that the victors would subsequently dedicate to Apollo at his temple there. Only the cities of the Doric Pentapolis, Kos, Knidos, Ialysos, Lindos, and Kameiros, were invited to participate. Interestingly, none of the other cities in the Pentapolis ever depicted a scene from the festival, leading to an alternate theory that the design may refer to a local festival at Kos.