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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 135. Estimate CHF20000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF40000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MACEDON, Mende. Circa 460-423 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 17.01 g 9), c. early 420s. Dionysos, bearded and wearing ivy wreath and himation, holding a kantharos in his right hand, resting his left on his head, and reclining left on the back of a donkey walking right; below donkey, sprig of ivy. Rev. ΜΕΝ ΔΑ ΙΟ Ν Linear square containing a vine with leaves, tendrils and four bunches of grapes. Jameson 1963 (this coin). Noe, Mende 65. Very attractive, beautifully toned and very well struck. Reverse lightly struck from a worn die, otherwise, extremely fine.

From the collection of R. Jameson and from the Kaliandra (Mende) Hoard of 1913 (IGCH 358).

The coinage of Mende is well-known for its representations of Dionysos reclining on the back of an ass. These can be very attractive, indeed, but all but this one show the god clutching a kantharos in his right hand and and resting his left on the side of his donkey. Here we have a much more lively impression of the god: he has his kantharos but he has propped his left elbow on the donkey’s head and has raised his left hand to his own. Is he just resting his head, or is he cupping his ear to hear the songs and shouts of his retinue (the thiasos), who we can assume must have surrounded him? This is the most interesting and unusual of all the scenes to be found on the coinage of Mende.