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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 136. Estimate CHF11000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF17000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CARIA or LYCIA, Uncertain mint. c. 530 BC . Half-stater (Silver, 5.79 g), Aeginetic. Beardless, almost certainly male head to left, with long hair falling down behind and an ear with a large lobe (not an earring). Rev. Two irregularly divided incuse squares, one considerably larger than the other. Cf. BMC Caria, Cnidus 1 = Traité II, 1, 698 and pl. XVIII, 9 = Cahn, Knidos 75 and pl. 19, 1 = K. A. Sheedy, The Dolphins, the Crab, the Sphinx and ‘Aphrodite’, Studies Price, p. 323, 8 and pl. 69, 4 = E. Isik, Frühe Silberprägung in Städten Westkleinasiens (Saarbrücken, 2003), 75 and pl. 9, 4 (the unique stater of the same type, 9.92 g). A coin of great interest and numismatic importance, apparently unique. Lightly toned, good very fine.

Ex Gorny & Mosch 159, 8 October 2007, 187.

This is one of the most extraordinary coins to appear in many years. It was first published in the Gorny & Mosch catalogue of 2007 along with a most erudite note (albeit unsigned) attributing it to the late 7th or early 6th century BC; thus firmly placing it within the realms of the so-called Daedalic art of the 7th century. However, K.Konuk, in his as yet unpublished chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins, denies the existence of any silver coinage prior to the reign of Kroisos: he has, in fact, returned to the traditional view of Herodotus that Kroisos was the first to strike coins in pure gold and pure silver. Following the conquest of Lydia by the Persians in 546, the use of silver coins spread dramatically fast: within a decade or two silver was being struck by Greek cities all over the Aegean, in Magna Graeca and in Sicily. In addition, the widespread issuance of small silver fractions, paralleling the previous issues of electrum and gold small denominations, meant that coinage was being used by all elements of society for relatively small transactions as well as major payments.
Returning to the present type, Sheedy already pointed out that the weight standard of the closely related and equally unique BM stater was related to Lycian issues, which suggested to him a date in the later 6th century for the coin: he simply must be right - the apparently early style undoubtedly reflects local taste rather than a chronological period.