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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XV, Lot: 157. Estimate $200.
Sold for $2750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Larissa. Last quarter of 5th century BC. AR Trihemiobol (13.5mm, 1.16 g, 1h). Ο above, 𐌔 retrograde below, horseman, wearing petasos and chlamys, walking l. on ground line, holding two spears; border of dots / ΡΑΛ above l., the Ρ reversed, Ι 𐌔-A l. down, the 𐌔 reversed, the A upside down, the nymph Larissa, seated to l. on a chair, her r. hand raised and holding a mirror at which she is looking, her l. hand holding a ball; all in a shallow incuse square. Herrmann p. 21, group III a, pl. II, 12 var. [nymph holds mirror in l. and ball in r.]. VF, lightly toned with a small scratch on the obv. and some edge porosity on the reverse.

At first glance, the die engraver of this reverse die has depicted the nymph holding two incompatible objects, a mirror and a ball [unless the mirror is not a mirror but a tennis racket in which case we have the earliest depiction of the game and this coin is priceless :-)]. The scene could actually be interpreted as follows: the nymph is getting ready to play ball and she is having one last look in her mirror to make sure her hair is securely fastened. For the more commonly encountered scene see J. Hirsch XIII (15 May 1905) 1308 (same obv. die). On that coin the nymph just holds a mirror and is about to arrange her “coiffure”.