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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XV, Lot: 336. Estimate $125.
Sold for $800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Larissa. Late 4th - early 3rd century BC. AR Hemidrachm (14.5mm, 2.26 g, 7h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., her hair more unkempt than usual but still held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΔΙΩN (sic) below, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. See R. Ratto 4 April 1927, 1016 for same rev. die and another atypical obv. portrait; See also CNG 81 (20 May 2009) 404 for a different pair of dies along the same lines. VF, lightly toned and with a scratch below the horse on the reverse.

An unusually styled coin that could be an imitation or an unofficial issue. However, the weight is correct; it corresponds to the later, reduced weight, hemidrachms, the metal does not seem debased, nor are there any indications of a bronze core. It could therefore be just an itinerant artist passing by and leaving a sample of his work at the mint. We know that he has executed at least two obverse dies (see the above Ratto reference), both coupled with the reverse that has ΔΙΩΝ instead of ΑΙΩΝ for the second part of the ethnic. However, ΔΙΩΝ is also a man’s name and knowing how much the Greeks liked the odd play of words, it could well be that the artist found this subtle and humourous way to leave his signature on the coins (ΛΑΡΙΣ after all was more than enough to indicate the mint, given that most of the early facing head drachms displayed such an abbreviated version of the ethnic anyway).