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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XV, Lot: 272. Estimate $300.
Sold for $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

The ΠΛΕΙ drachms and their fractions constitute an intriguing departure from the mainstream material that comes after the Early facing heads. Their date must precede most, if not all, Middle and Late facing types, also because all fractions have their obverse in profile. The size of the letters precludes the possibility that they are an artist’s signature and if there was a mint in Thessaly starting with these letters, it could be claimed they are a joint issue. Perhaps they are a special group minted for a particular purpose and subsidized by a rich sponsor whose name starts with these letters. Thomas R. Martin, in his article “The Chronology of the Fourth-Century B.C. Facing-Head Coinage of Larissa” in Museum Notes 28 (1993), p. 31-32, esp. notes 108 and 109, conjures up a Tyrant (archon) whose name did not come down to us and who seized power in Larissa for a short time, around 375 BC. It would be nice if an inscription was found that confirms this theory but for the time being, as Martin himself admits, it can only be speculation.

THESSALY, Larissa. Early to mid 4th century BC. AR Drachm (20mm, 5.73 g, 8h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., border of dots / ΛΑΡΙ above, ΠΛΕΙ in exergue, bridled crouching horse to l., about to roll, its rein dangling above and below the ground line; a plant growing below. Weber 2851 (same obv. die). Good VF, lightly toned; rev. a little off centre and with some surface roughness behind the horse; rare.