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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Krannon. Lot of 2 coins.

Triton XV, Lot: 116. Estimate $125.
Sold for $750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Lot of 2 coins.

(116.1) THESSALY, Krannon. 4th century BC. Æ Dichalkon (18.5mm, 4.70 g, 3h). Laureate and bearded head of Poseidon (or Zeus?) r., border of dots / ΚΡ above l., Α to r., horseman wearing petasos prancing r. Rogers 179. Good VF, dark greenish brown patina.

The two coins in this lot are nothing special at first glance. However, for the collector who likes challenges, they could serve as the introduction to a puzzle that has baffled this writer for decades. The two obverse dies for practically all the known Krannon bronzes of this type are illustrated in Nomos 4, 1081. The coins in this lot are probably the only ones in existence with obverse dies that differ. What could be the reason for this oddity? The Krannon mint, contrary to all other Thessalian mints that had a significant output of archaic silver, seems to have abandoned the issuing of silver coins quite suddenly, sometime during the second half of the 5th century BC. Instead of Classical and Hellenistic silver, the mint then issued several types and denominations of bronze coins, all of them offered in this auction (see also lots 1081 to 1088 in Nomos 4). Some of these types have survived in very large quantities, the ‘bearded head r. / rider r. or l.’ being one of them. Could it be that the production of this type was interrupted suddenly, just as the two obverses offered in this lot were being put to use? The style of these two rare obverses though does not make them any later than the obverses of lots 117.1 to 117.6 or 117.7 to 117.9; in fact the obverse die of 117.7 to 117.9 appears to be the most developed one stylistically. However, the evaluation of stylistic characteristics should not be the only, or even the most important, criterion when we attempt to date similar issues. There are ancient coin series where die engravers working at the same time produced results that vary enormously in style, some looking really old fashioned, almost archaic, and others incorporating the latest elements of contemporary art. The above scenario is not totally satisfying for this writer who believes that when the die study for Krannon is finally published and the many reverse dies for this issue are also incorporated in the picture there may be a more convincing explanation, possibly also taking into account the historical background of the city.

(116.2) THESSALY, Krannon. 4th century BC. Æ Dichalkon (18mm, 4.43 g, 8h). Laureate and bearded head of Poseidon (or Zeus?) r. / ΚΡ above l., [Α] to r., horseman wearing petasos prancing r. Rogers 179. Near VF, medium green patina, the rev. slightly off centre.

This is the second rare obverse die. It bears some similarity to the obverse die of lots 117.7 to 117.9, as if it was its predecessor.