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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 115. Estimate CHF18000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF16000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CILICIA, Soloi. 425-400. Stater (Silver, 10.68 g 10). Amazon, nude to the waist and seen from behind, kneeling to left and stringing her bow; wearing bonnet and with her gorytos at her hip; to right, facing head of satyr; in exergue, monogram Rev. ΣΟΛΕΩΝ Large bunch of grapes; below right, fly; all within incuse square with linear border of dots. BMC 3. SNG France 128. SNG Levante 40. SNG von Aulock 5858. A spectacular example of the Amazon coinage of Soloi, probably the finest known. Toned and perfectly struck, good extremely fine.

From the Spina collection, ex Triton VIII, 10 January 2005, 506.

The word solecism, meaning a grammatical mistake or absurdity, was invented by the ancient Athenians to describe the Greek dialect spoken in Soloi, which they thought was a corrupt version of Attic. Perhaps the beautiful bunch of grapes on this coin gives us a hint as to why the people of Soloi made so many mistakes in speaking: Pliny records that much wine was produced in Cilicia and Soloi’s standard type of a bunch of grapes implies that some of it was certainly made here!

The Amazons were a tribe of female warriors who supposedly originated in northern Asia Minor. They appear in a great number of Greek legends and were a favorite subject for ancient painting and sculpture (they supposedly removed their right breasts in order to be better able to throw javelins and draw their bows, but this is never shown in works of art and it seems prima facie unlikely). The engraver of this coin got out of the problem by showing the Amazon from behind, with only her left breast visible under her arm. Precisely why she appears on the coinage of Soloi is unknown and probably relates to a local myth.