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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1018. Estimate CHF1250. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF13000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Ainianes. Circa 80s (- 40s?) BC. Trihemidrachm (Silver, 7.40 g 12), Reduced Aiginetic, Hypata. Eukrates. Head of Athena Parthenos to right, wearing an Attic helmet adorned with Pegasos, tendril, and four horse protomes. Rev. ΑΙΝΙΑΝΩΝ/ΕΥΚΡΑΤΗΣ Phemios, as a slinger, nude but for chlamys over his shoulder and sword on baldric, standing facing, head turned to right, shooting his sling to right; behind him, two spears leaning against his right leg; to right, trophy. De Callataÿ 2004, 22 (this coin). SNG Copenhagen 13. Extremely rare. Attractively toned and very pretty. Nearly extremely fine.

Ex Sternberg XI, 20 November 1981, 85 (CHF 1900) and from the collection of G. Philipsen, Hirsch XXV, 29 November 1909, 578.

The late coinage of the Ainianes is a very strange one, traditionally dated to c. 168-146: this is not conceivably possible. De Callataÿ’s theory of a post-Sullan date for them (in his study of 2004) just has to be correct, though the chronological extent of the coinage may be longer than he suggested. While stylistic comparisons with Athenian New Style tetradrachms are not really helpful, the heads here do look rather post-Sullan in date (compare to the Nestor-Mnaseas group, Thompson 1205-1221 for example). Another factor is the appearance of the magistrate’s name on the obverse, a practice found on Achaian League issues of the 1st century (as those of Elis in BCD Peloponnesos 686-691). As for the denomination: the usual explanation is that they are reduced weight Attic didrachms (they usually weigh from around 7.40 to 7.70), especially since they bear a head of Athena Parthenos. De Callataÿ believes this and, knowing him, he’s probably right. But why on earth should they be: this would be an extremely unusual denomination, one that was nearly completely foreign to central Greece (save for Leukas, far to the west - but see below). In any case, they would have to be very reduced weight Attic since even the latest Athenian tetradrachms are around 16 g and more. No, it seems much more likely that they were produced on the dominant standard used in most of Greece: the reduced Aiginetic, which results in their being perfect trihemidrachms, based on a hemidrachm of c. 2.40-2.50 g. One may repost by pointing out that trihemidrachms would be pretty unusual too, but what else can they be? In any case, while a good number of these coins were originally issued, only a very few survived, indicating that they, and their denomination, were not particularly popular!
However, BCD has reminded me of the very rare issues, identified as Attic staters, that were produced by Thyrreion (as BCD Akarnanien 403-409). These pieces also bear obverse heads of Athena taken from Athenian New Style issues, but have Athena Promachos on the reverse. They have been dated by Liampi to c. 94 BC and they are distinctly heavier than the comparable pieces of Ainianes that average around 7.5 g. The coins from Thyrreion were a very short-lived, prestige issue (only two obverse and six reverse dies are known for them, all signed by a single magistrate), but they agree in weight with the much larger issues of Leukas, normally dated to c. 167-100 and must be contemporary with them. The fact that the Ainianes pieces are appreciably lighter, implies, as we have written here, that they are later still, but their use of the head of Athena Parthenos as an obverse type must mean that the staters (they are almost certainly Attic didrachms, albeit light ones) of Thyrreion were known to the mint masters of Ainianes.