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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1253. Estimate CHF1350. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF14500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Phalanna. Circa 340s BC. Drachm (Silver, 5.65 g 5). Youthful male head to right, with short, curly hair. Rev. ΦΑΛΑ-ΝΝ-[ΑΙΩΝ] Bridled horse with curled tail prancing to right; below, bunch of grapes lying on its side and monogram of ΑΝ. Coin Hoards III, fig 2, 4 (this coin). Jameson 1100 = Traité IV, 584 and pl. CCXCIII, 8 (same dies). Very rare and most attractive. Some tiny scratches, otherwise, extremely fine.

Ex CH III, 43, 4..

This must be the second issue of drachms from Phalanna, and it is surely slightly later than the silver issues in the previous lots, especially because, unlike them, it bears both a symbol and a monogram. The male head on this coin is much heavier and more athletic looking than the one on the drachm in lot 1250 above; could it be an actual portrait? In fact, this variety is only known from a single pair of dies, which may indicate that it was a special issue.
A real puzzle about this issue is the 1975 Thessaly Hoard (CH III, 43). In her article on the hoard (CH III, pp. 9-15), J. Humphris makes a convincing case that it should be dated to 229-228 BC, thus making the appearance within it of this very well preserved drachm of Phalanna quite disturbing. She suggests that, rather than having been struck in the 340s, this coin should have been issued at the time of the death of Demetrios II in 229, when there was a Thessalian revolt against the Macedonians. This seems virtually impossible: the idea that any authority was striking pure Aeginetic weight drachms as late as the early 220s seems very unlikely. The drachms of Epidauros were lowered in weight by the 240s as were all the issues of Olympia: this piece is just too heavy. Stylistically, this coin also does not look as late as the 220s. Many hoards, like Agrinion for example, have contained coins in very good condition that date much earlier than the hoard’s closing date: they were probably found in a hoard (!) or in a known family holding, and then returned to circulation. Thus, the appearance of a fine 4th century coin in a late 3rd century hoard.
A note from BCD: See my note after lot 1346 that prefers the low chronology of J. Humpris for this lot as well as for lots 1207 and 1346.