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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90010096
Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 96. Estimate CHF3750. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF3400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LESBOS, Mytilene. Circa 521-478 BC. Hekte (Electrum, 2.57 g 11). Forepart of a bull to left with a beaded wreath decorating the truncation Rev. Lion’s head with open jaws to right, all incuse; behind, irregular incuse rectangle. Bodenstedt 2 var. SNG von Aulock 1683. Very rare. Lightly toned. Extremely fine.


This is a fine example of one of the earliest regular emissions of hekte from Mytilene. In Bodenstedt’s corpus of the coins he cites most of this issue as having the letter Μ below the bull’s mouth, thus clearly identifying the mint. It is also interesting to note that the rectangular shape behind the lion’s head on the reverse is actually a miniature version of a normal irregular incuse punch as found on the reverses of all other early electrum. It thus forms a bridge between the ‘new’ incuse reverse types used at Mytilene and their earlier forebears. Kyzikos, Mytilene and Phokaia were the three ancient Greek mints that produced extensive electrum issues, though the latter two only struck hektes, rather than a complete series of denominations as at Kyzikos. Somewhat curiously, with the exception of the earliest issues mentioned above, none of Mytilene’s hektes had their mint clearly identified with either a letter or a symbol (as the tunny fish of Kyzikos or the seal of Phokaia); perhaps the authorities felt that their coins were so well known that identifying them was unnecessary. Mytilene also was the only one of the mints to have a reverse type rather than a simple incuse: of interest is the fact that the obverse and reverse types are usually related (though we sometimes no longer know what that relationship means). On this piece the bull and lion would immediately remind the user of the slightly earlier issues of Lydia (as below, lot 109).