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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 59. Estimate CHF9500. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF10000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LOKRIS, Lokris Opuntii. Circa 356-338 BC. Stater (Silver, 12.2 g 3). Head of Persephone to left, wearing wreath of grain leaves, triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace Rev. ΟΠΟΝΤΙΩΝ Ajax, nude but for Corinthian helmet, advancing right, holding short sword in his right hand and, in his left, a shield ornamented with a griffin and a palmette on its interior; below left, eight-pointed star; below, broken spear. Gulbenkian 491. Wartenberg 6. A splendid example, beautifully toned, well-centered and struck in high relief. Extremely fine.

The lovely head of Persephone on the obverse of this coin was, of course, directly inspired by the Syracusan Arethusa heads of Euainetos. The head also is quite similar to those found on some Peloponnesian coinages of the same period (Pheneos and Olympia for example). As for the reverse, which shows the hero Ajax son of Oileus, commander of the Lokrians in the Trojan War, it is not only similar to the Syracusan issue with Leukaspis, but also to the famous stater of Perikle of Lycia. The shield he carries is also remarkable for having its decoration on the inside - though there are sculptural parallels. Why the somewhat obscure town of Opous in Lokris should have produced such a lovely and extensive coinage is uncertain: military expenses seem the most likely reason. Another possibility is that Lokrian mercenaries employed in Sicily could have returned with their salary in Syracusan coins, thus providing the bullion and the models for the coinage of their home city.