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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 37. Estimate CHF8500. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF7000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACE, Ainos. Circa 396/5-394/3 BC. Drachm (Silver, 2.67 g 1). Head of Hermes facing, wearing petasos and with his head turned very slightly to his right Rev. ΑΙΝΙΟΝ Goat standing to right; to right, hydria. May, Ainos 355 var. (A219/P-). SNG Copenhagen 412. Very rare. A superb piece of very fine style. Minor die break on the obverse, otherwise, extremely fine.

Facing heads are one of the most difficult of all coin designs for engravers to make successfully. They were produced all over the Greek world from Archaic through Hellenistic times, but a few mints, Ainos, Amphipolis, Larissa and Rhodes, specialized in them. The best existing survey remains Erhart’s dissertation of 1979. The coins of Ainos all bear heads of Hermes and they are quite varied stylistically, ranging from rather insipid heads to some of great subtlety and power. This piece bears a Hermes head that exhibits a remarkable degree of emotion - he is not just calmly and serenely looking out of the coin; rather, he seems to be deeply concerned about something. The quality of the engraving is outstanding - the goat on the reverse, seemingly holding back with his front legs together, almost seems to be startled by the perfectly detailed hydria that is on the ground before him. Could he be wondering what is inside, or does he know that it contains water but is perplexed at how to go about drinking from it?