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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 89. Estimate CHF75000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF64000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CRETE, Gortyna. Circa 330-270 BC. Stater (Silver, 11.22 g 10), circa 280. Europa, semi-nude, seated facing in plane tree, raising her veil with her right hand and, with her left, holding eagle with spread wings in her lap Rev. Bull standing to left, head turned back to right to ward off a fly from his left rear hoof. BMC 27 var. Kunstfreund 206 (this coin). Le Rider pl. XVIII, 22 var. Svoronos, Numismatique 74 var. One of the finest existing coins of Gortyna - extremely well-designed, beautifully struck and with an attractive patina. Good very fine.

From the collections of R. Maly, LHS 100, 23 April 2007, 276 and C. Gillet, Bank Leu und Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 206.

The obverse , which shows Europa being visited by Zeus in the form of an eagle, is extremely well-done; the maddened bull on the reverse, tormented by a biting fly, is surely observed from nature. Both scenes are taken from local myths. Cretan coinage in the late 4th and early 3rd centuries is quite varied and is usually very interesting iconographically with types taken from paintings, local traditions and foreign coins. Unfortunately, since most of the coins are over-struck and badly struck as well, they tend not to be particularly attractive. This piece is a glorious exception to that rule and shows how nice Cretan coins can be when the mint workers took a bit more effort over the striking process. The reason why Cretan coins were over-struck is that the bullion used to make them came from the pay Cretan mercenaries brought back to their island, and instead of melting the foreign coins down to make new flans, they were simply heated and restruck ( some of the undertypes can be identified as issues from the Peloponnesos and Kyrene).