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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 74. Estimate CHF150000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF205000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BOEOTIA, Thebes. Circa 405-395 BC. Stater (Silver, 12.05 g). Boeotian shield. Rev. Θ Ε Bearded head of Dionysos, three-quarters facing and turned slightly to the right, wearing ivy wreath. BCD Boiotia 458 (same dies). J.Hirsch XXV (Philipsen), 29 November 1909, 898 (same dies). Extremely rare. The finest example of this type known; bearing an outstanding head of Dionysos struck in high relief. A few minor marks, good extremely fine.

The mint of Thebes produced a number of unusually fine representations on the reverses of its staters, but this one must be the most startlingly impressive of them all. Following the same local artistic traditions we have seen with the previous stater bearing the facing head of Herakles, we only have the head of the god on the reverse, peering mask-like out of the the field of the coin, lacking a neck to make him into a more human figure. He is also clearly a figure of great power and emotion; his eyes are fully open and stare out at us, and his lips are parted so that we can see the teeth within his mouth. The brilliant engraver who created this astonishing head has let us imagine the flush moving over the god’s cheeks, as he gets redder and redder with all the sacred wine he has drunk. This is unquestionably one of the finest facing heads in all Greek numismatic art.