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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90041283
Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1283. Estimate CHF2500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Pharsalos. Late 5th-mid 4th century BC. Drachm (Silver, 6.29 g 8), signed by the engraver Telephantos, with his initials on the obverse, and by the engraver ΑΜΝ... on the reverse. Head of Athena to right, wearing pendant earring, crested Attic helmet adorned with an olive wreath, and with raised cheek pieces; in tiny letters behind neck, ΤΗ. Rev. Φ-Α / Ρ-Σ (last two letters retrograde) Forepart of horse to right; behind truncation, ΑΜ; in field to right, retrograde Ν. Jameson 2471 = KF 193 = Lavva 78 a (this coin) . Extremely rare, the second and best example known. Beautifully toned and superb, but with a minor old scratch on the obverse and an equally old and equally minor scuff on the reverse, otherwise, extremely fine.


From the collections of Charles Gillet, ‘Kunstfreund’, Bank Leu/Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 193 (CHF 18,500) and of R. Jameson.

This is a magnificent coin of the greatest rarity, and was the first large silver coin to be struck by Pharsalos. The reverse type is surely taken from the standard Thessalian hemidrachms of the 5th century - this was probably thought to be not attractive enough by the authorities at Pharsalos and was, thus, immediately replaced by reverses showing a Thessalian rider. The two tiny letters on the obverse have long been viewed as the signature of the die cutter Telephantos, but the letters on the reverse, ΑΜ... and Ν..., have yet to be satisfactorily explained.
A note from BCD: See lot 1333, below, for an identical small retrograde Ν on the right of another half horse, this time the obverse of a Skotussa drachm. Could this be the signature of someone specialized in engraving horses? But then what about the letters ΑΜ on the left? If we think along the lines of thought prevailing for the explanation of the obverse letters on these drachms, we could say that the engraver ΑΜ... with the help of his pupil or assistant Ν... was responsible for the horse die on this coin. This would lead to the interesting conclusion that the horse die of the Skotussa drachm (being the work of engraver Ν..., working on his own this time) was engraved at about the same time or even slightly later than this drachm. Even if the Skotussa reverse with its incuse square appears to be earlier than the gently concave field on the reverse of this coin, this possibility should not be ignored. A plausible explanation for this stylistic discrepancy would be that we are here dealing with a progressive Pharsalian technique and style, undoubtedly of ‘western’ origin, that was not yet adopted by the other Thessalian mints.