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Research Coins: Feature Auction



Triton XV, Lot: 121. Estimate $200.
Sold for $950. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Lamia (IACP 431)

Although inhabited continuously since Neolithic times, Lamia is first mentioned in history as suffering from the earthquake of 426 BC (Demetrios of Kallatis in Strabo 1.3.20). During the Lamian War (323-322 BC), the city served as a Macedonian stronghold. It was sufficiently fortified that it stymied the Athenian-led rebel allies. It was here that Leosthenes, leader of the besieging force, was killed, effectively ending the war as a whole (Diod. Sic.18.13.4). Lamia ultimately became allied with the Aitolian League.

The city may have produced some extremely rare issues in the later 5th century, but its primary coinage consisted of silver and bronze of the first half of the 4th. The types usually are of Dionysos, or the eponymous nymph Lamia and the local hero Philoktetes. There may be some bronze of the later 4th and there is also an unexpected issue of drachms ca. 300 BC (with a head of Lamia on the obverse and Philoktetes on the reverse: the possibility that these are meant to represent Demetrios Poliorketes and his lover the Athenian courtesan Lamia is probably just a romantic story). However, BCD does not think so (see his note in Nomos 4, lot 1094).

THESSALY, Lamia. First quarter of the 4th century BC. AR Hemidrachm (14.5mm, 2.86 g, 12h). Head of young Dionysos to r., wearing ivy wreath / ΛΑΜΙ l. up, ΕΩ above, Ν r. down, amphora with tall handles, to r., prochous with handle to r. Georgiou, Mint, p. 160 and pl. 1, 4 (period B, AR group I); BMC p. 22, 1, pl. III, 12; SNG Fitzwilliam 2378; see also J. Hirsch XVIII (27 May 1907) 2338 for the same rev. die. VF, nice two-tone old collection toning, a few minor marks under tone.

Acquired from CNG, October 1996, for $540; ex Superior, 2 June 1996, 1586, hammer $400.

The early, compact style, Lamia hemidrachms (as well as the corresponding obols) are distinguished from the later, much commoner ones, by the direction of the head of Dionysos on the obverse. They apparently continued to circulate along with the later coins and were not withdrawn, hence their comparatively higher wear when they turn up in hoards. See also Pozzi (Boutin) 2742 for the Christodoulos forgery of this type that has successfully deceived several dealers during the last century and until quite recently (see, for instance, CNG MBS 57 (4 April 2001) 287). Interestingly, Ernest Babelon refers to the Pozzi forgery as genuine (see Traité 2, IV, 455 and footnote 7).