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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 108. Estimate CHF7500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LESBOS, Mytilene. Circa 454-428/7 BC. Hekte (Electrum, 2.55 g 7), struck circa 430 BC. Head of a nymph, possibly Europa, three-quarter facing and turned slightly to the right, wearing a taenia that is bound up at the back of her head. Rev. Two profile boar’s heads confronting each other. Cf. BMC 51 (= Bodenstedt 45/α with A on the reverse but the same obverse). BMFA 1692 = Bodenstedt 45/β (same dies). Very rare. With a particularly beautiful facing head of very individual character. nicely centered and well struck. Minor scratches on the reverse, otherwise, about extremely fine.

This is one of those rare issues from Mytilene that simply must have a story behind it. In fact, the obverse, with its head of a nymph, was used for two consecutive issues: the first, Bodenstedt 44, is paired with a reverse showing the head of a bull and the second, as this, Bodenstedt 45, with these two opposing boars’ heads (this type harks back to Mytilene’s early billon coinage, as BMC 10 ff.). The nymph’s portrait is remarkably good: she has a real character and must be taken from life. Perhaps she was a young woman who lived in Mytilene at the time this coin was made and the engraver, besotted by her charms, immortalized her by placing her portrait on these coins.