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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 65. Estimate CHF9000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF10000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ISLANDS off ATTICA, Aegina. Circa 456/45-431 BC. Stater (Silver, 12.40 g). Tortoise seen from above Rev. Incuse square divided into five compartments. ACGC 127. Dewing 1683-1685. Milbank pl. 2, 12-13. An exceptionally well-preserved piece struck in very high relief. Minor bang at the top of the shell, otherwise, good extremely fine.

The silver issues of Aegina were immense: it was one of the chief trading coinages of the 6th and earlier 5th centuries, especially in the Peloponnesos, the Islands and in Central Greece where its weight standard was dominant. Exactly why turtles or tortoises appear on the coinage of Aegina is not clear: it was not a sacred animal. One suggestion is that early, pre-coinage silver ingots in use in the Aegean area were plano-convex in shape; and that on Aegina they were colloquially known as ‘turtles.’ Thus, when coins were introduced, using the turtle as a coin type was a reference to the older, pure-silver ingots that had previously been used in trade.