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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 98. Estimate CHF12000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF9600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ARKADIA, Pheneos. Circa first or early 2nd quarter of the 4th century. Obol (Silver, 0.91 g 12). Head of youthful Hermes to left, with his petasos hanging behind from a cord around his neck. Rev. ΦΕΝΙ Upright kerykeion; to right, acorn and oak leaf. Not in BCD and apparently unknown and unpublished. Somewhat carelessly struck with some obverse flatness and a minor flan crack, otherwise, extremely fine.

BCD was famous for saying that he was sure that as soon as he auctioned his collection, one of those great rarities would appear for which he had long searched in vain. In this case the situation is even worse: this coin is utterly unknown and marks a completely new issue of the 4th century!! But when was it struck? It clearly must be connected to the extremely rare triobols and obols that bear the same head of Hermes on their obverses (triobols: BMC 1 and BCD 1600; obols: BMC 2 - not in BCD), which have been dated in the BCD catalogue to the late 5th or very early 4th centuries. The heads on the triobol and this obol are, in fact, so close that we can assume the same die cutter was responsible for both: perhaps they should be dated down into the 4th century, even if that would leave Pheneos with little or no coinage in the late 5th. The reverse type certainly harks back to the rare 5th century fractions of Pheneos that also bore kerykeia as their reverse types (BCD 1598-1599), but the prominent oak leaf and acorn symbol seems completely unexpected. In fact, this coin looks experimental in every way and it may well be that it was decided to replace the kerykeion type on the reverse with the more familiar ram almost immediately after this coin was struck. In any case this is a most extraordinary novum.