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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90041042
Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1042. Estimate CHF750. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Gomphi-Philippopolis. Circa 350 BC. Obol (Silver, 0.84 g 1). Head of Hera to right, with her hair rolled with a high, ornamented stephane, and wearing a pemdant earring, and a necklace. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠ-[ΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ] Zeus, nude, striding right, hurling thunderbolt from his upraised right hand and with an eagle on his left. Demetriadi 2000, 2 and pl. 6, 2 (this coin). Extremely rare and of lovely style. Crystalized surfaces, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.


This is a fascinating coin. On the reverse we have a clearly archaic statue of Fulminating Zeus, very different, indeed, from the seated Zeus on the larger silver. As for the obverse, the head is quite similar to contemporary issues from the Peloponnesos, especially from Argos (as BCD 1069) and Heraia (as BCD 1366). The use of a ‘modern’ head of Hera with an ‘old-fashioned’ figure of her divine husband is a particularly fascinating juxtaposition. Demetriadi points out that there is a resemblance between the Zeus on this coin and that of a Zeus from Haliartos in Boiotia (as BCD Boiotia 163), but it is not particularly close and the obverse is very un-Boiotian - the Zeus is much closer to the well-nigh contemporary early issues of Messene, as PCG III B. 45 = Kraay/Hirmer 511.
A note from BCD: The author of the article publishing this coin wrote “Zeus” instead of the correct “Poseidon” when referring to the connection of this reverse with the Haliartos stater. It is obvious, though, that the Messenian issues are a much closer match. Comparing the reverse of the only other known example of this coin (Lanz 102, 28 May 2001, 215 - now in a Swiss private collection) to BMC Peloponnesos pl. XXII, 1 we are almost tempted to attribute both reverse dies to the same engraver’s hand. If not, they surely shared a statuary prototype.