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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1011. Estimate CHF350. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF9000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Ainianes. Circa 360s-350s BC. Hemidrachm (Silver, 2.81 g 6), Hypata. Laureate and bearded head of Zeus to left. Rev. ΑΙΝΙΑΝΩΝ The hero Phemios, nude but for a belt holding a short sword in a scabbard and a chlamys draped over his shoulders and his left arm, standing left, facing front with his head turned to right, hurling a javelin with his right hand and holding his petasos, as if it were a small shield, with his left; on the ground line between his feet, sideways Φ (=Phemios). SNG Munich 1. Warren pl. XVI, 680 (same obverse die). Rare. A nicely toned, well centered and attractive example. Reverse slightly double-struck at the bottom, otherwise, about extremely fine.

The earliest hemidrachms or triobols of the Ainianes must be those with the left facing head of Zeus and the unbroken city name on the reverse, as found here and on the unique stater (above, lot 1010). They are, apparently, rather more uncommon than those with the broken legend (as below, lot 1013). What does seem astonishing, however, is that no one seems to have noticed the letter on the reverse ground line that clearly identifies the warrior as Phemios. Perhaps even the ancient viewer did not realize what it meant, and that may well indicate why it was discontinued. It can be seen even more legibly on the following lot, struck from the same reverse die as this one. The idea that the object held in Phemios’ left hand is actually a shield, rather than a petasos, has recently been bruited about (i.e. CNG MBS 76, 2007, lot 369). This is interesting but it would require the existence of a buckler that curved inwards from the edge and then back up to the boss at the center, which does not really seem very likely. Given the fact that he also has his cloak wrapped around his arm, it would seem that he was protecting himself in a rather casual way, commensurate with his heroic spirit. Looking at the piece illustrated in Peus 171, 2007, lot 393, makes it clear this is really a hat, not a stiff shield!