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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1322. Estimate CHF40000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF44000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Pherai. Circa 280s-270s BC. Stater (Silver, 11.63 g 12). Head of the water nymph Hypereia facing, turned slightly to left, wearing wreath of reeds in her hair, earring and necklace; to left, fish swimming upwards. Rev. ΦΕΡΑΙΩ[Ν] Ennodia, wearing chiton and wreath in her hair and holding transverse torch across her body seated facing on horse to right; above left, lion’s head water spout to left. KF 195 (this coin). Unique and of the highest importance. Darkly toned, with slightly rough surfaces but of splendid style, a remarkable coin. Good very fine.

From the collection of Charles Gillet, ‘Kunstfreund’, Bank Leu/Münzen und Medaillen 28 May 1974, 195 (CHF 92,000).

This coin, and the smaller silver that go with it, have long been ascribed to Lycophron II, the tyrant who was in power in 353-352. However, the use of the Ω rather than an Ο in the legend makes this quite unlikely; especially since the silver with the legend Φεραιουν (as above, lots 1320-1321) is generally believed to have been struck around the time of Demetrios Poliorketes. Not only that, the BMC had dated the bronzes that bear the same type of Hypereia and Ennodia to circa 300-190 - though Rogers, by misreading the legend as having an Ο rather than an Ω, was happy to ascribe them to Lycophron (as was Babelon, of course, though he correctly recorded the legend as having an Ω).
A note from BCD: This extraordinary stater has the added distinction of continuing to be unique following its original appearance at the so-called “Sale of the Century” in 1974. This just goes to show that some ancient coin issues must have been quite limited and minted solely for commemorative or prestige reasons: many unique coins can only be explained in this manner. The famous tetradrachm of Naxos from the 460s, despite being from a single die pair, is preserved in considerable numbers: the possibility is by no means far fetched that the city struck at least 10 talents of them by weight(= 60,000 drachms or 15,000 tetradrachms). However, this piece and the equally unique stater of the Achaean League, were surely struck in much, much smaller numbers.