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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1346. Estimate CHF550. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF24000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Thebai. Circa 302-286 BC. Drachm or Tetrobol (Silver, 4.19 g 12), A coin on both the Attic and Aeginetan standards. Head of Demeter to left, wearing grain wreath and veil. Rev. ΘΗΒΑΙΩΝ Protesilaos, wearing crested helmet and armor, and holding shield in his left hand and sword in his right, advancing to right; behind him to left, prow of galley. Gorny & Mosch 151 (2006)), 152 (same dies). Hirsch XXV, 1909, 711 (same dies). Moustaka 1983 pp. 116 and 132, 92 and pl. 11, 92 (the coin on the right, same dies, but misidentified as a hemidrachm = NCirc November 1970, 12392). SNG Delepierre 1153 . Extremely rare. Lightly toned but with some deposits and minor marks. Nearly extremely fine.

The actual denomination of this coin is surprisingly controversial. In some ways it would make most sense as an Aeginetan tetrobol, but why should such an unusual denomination be issued at this time? In fact, it has always been termed a drachm in the few places it has appeared (except for Moustaka, of course), presumably an Attic one: it is a little light in weight, but none of the coins of this type known are in perfect condition and all must have suffered some weight loss. This coin is definitely similar in weight to the late drachms of the Thessalian League (below, lots 1371 ff.), which are certainly Attic drachms; this is significant (though I do not believe this coin is that late in date). If these silver coins of Thebai were issued under the aegis of Demetrios Poliorketes, as it has been assumed they were, it might be that they were intended to facilitate exchange between his mass tetradrachm issues and the local economy. Locally they could be rather unusual tetrobols, but they were probably thought of as drachms on a par with those issued by Demetrios from his mints in Macedon. As for the smaller silver coins from Thebai (see the following lot), they could pass equally as either Aeginetan triobols or Attic tetrobols.
A note from BCD: Without meaning to sound unconventional just for the sake of it BCD thinks that this coin is definitely later than the hemidrachm of the next lot. He believes that it was struck at about the same time as lots 1207 and 1253, above, during the late 220’s BC when Thessaly became independent from Macedon and joined the newly formed Hellenic League. The rarity of these coins could then be explained by the fact that very soon afterwards Philip V put an end to any aspirations of independence amongst the poleis of Central Greece. I am afraid I don’t agree - I know of no reason why 1207 should be as late as the end of the 3rd century, and I think a date for the Phalanna, 1253, in the 220s is out of the question, despite Humpris’ careful argument.