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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 77. Estimate CHF70000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF68000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LAKONIA, Lakedaimon (Sparta). Areus I. 309-265 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 16.91 g 6), struck circa 267-265. Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion’s skin headdress Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΡΕΟΣ Zeus seated left on high-backed throne, holding eagle with closed wings standing right on his right hand and long scepter in his left; below throne, Η; in exergue, club to right. BCD Peloponnesos -. Grunauer 1 var. A unique variety of a series that is itself of the highest rarity. One of only four tetradrachms of Areus I known, and the only example not in a museum. . Reverse very slightly double-struck, otherwise, about extremely fine.

Areus was the first Spartan king to have an elaborate court of his own, following the models of the Macedonians, and was the first to issue a coinage. It was produced in order to pay mercenaries during the Chremonidean War (268/7-262/1; an anti-Macedonian alliance between Athens and Sparta that ultimately failed - it was named after Chremonides, an Athenian politician who was later forced to flee to the Ptolemies). The coins of Areus were modeled on those of Alexander and his successors, which were the most acceptable currency of the time. The head of Herakles, who was the ancestor of both of the Spartan royal houses (the Agiad of Areus I and Eurypontid, represented by Eudamidas II - circa 275-244 - who is ignored by the coinage) was used here, however, to symbolize the nearly sole power of Areus himself, instead of the Dioscouri who were symbols of the traditional Spartan dyarchy. The club on the reverse of this coin also became a type in its own right on the coinage of Lakedaimon. Areus was killed in battle in 265 on the outskirts of Corinth, then held by the Macedonians. Only three other tetradrachms of Areus I are known: one, with an ΗΡ monogram, in Paris (Grunauer 1), and two, with a differing monogram, in Berlin and New York (Grunauer 2-3). This piece is, therefore, the rarest coin of Sparta, and surely the most historically significant.