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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
89000391

Larissa. Lot of 2 coins.

Triton XV, Lot: 391. Estimate $150.
Sold for $900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

The six coins that compose the following two lots were surely contemporary, and could all be the same denomination (ASW thinks so in Nomos 4, 1171). This writer though will venture to divide them into Chalkous (bigger head to r.) and Hemichalkon (smaller head to l.) which is quite arbitrary and stands to be corrected. The different direction of the obverse head and the reverse’s horse though on coins that were contemporary and quite similar in size, must have had a reason behind it. There is also the possibility that the letters on some of them (A and Δ) were codes for two specific marks of value. These did not necessarily have to be a “unit” and a “half-unit”; the Greeks had quite a convoluted - and certainly different from ours - notion of numbers and fractional coin values.

Lot of 2 coins.

(391.1) THESSALY, Larissa. Late 4th - early 3rd centuries BC. Æ Chalkous (14mm, 2.00 g, 12h). Head of the nymph Larissa r., her hair rolled up around her head, wearing pendant earring; border of dots / [Λ]ΑΡΙΣ above, AΙΩΝ below, crouching horse l., about to roll, A below its bent r. foreleg. Rogers 296, fig. 144. VF, chocolate brown patina, the rev. a little off centre and a small die break above the horse’s neck.

The A below the horse’s raised and bent r. foreleg remains unexplained but it is worth noting that the same type of coin exists without it. See lots 392.1 and 392.2, with obverse dies cut by distinctly different hands.

(391.2) THESSALY, Larissa. Late 4th - early 3rd centuries BC. Æ Hemichalkon (12mm, 2.32 g, 12h). Head of the nymph Larissa l., her hair done in a bun at the back of her head; border of dots / ΛΑΡ[ΙΣ] above, AΙΩΝ below, crouching horse r., about to roll, Δ below its bent l. foreleg. Rogers 303. VF, light brown patina with bronze highlights.

The Δ on the rev. of this coin and of lot 392.4 surely has a similar function to that of the letter A on the reverse of lots 391.1 and 392.3. As these coins also occur without these control marks, the coins with letters must have belonged to the initial issues of these types, aiming to facilitate the distinction between them and to remind the population of their functions and values. At some later stage, when people familiarized themselves with the two types and the values they stood for, the letters were dropped. This is one explanation but by no means the only possible one. A die study of the series would confirm or disprove it.