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Research Coins: Feature Auction



Triton XV, Lot: 502. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Pagasai (IACP 407)

Pagasai had existed from the 7th-6th century BC as the harbor of Pherai. In 477/6 BC it served as the base for an Athenian fleet that was in the area to overawe the Thessalians after their collaboration with Xerxes in 480 BC. Its possession made Pherai very powerful in the earlier 4th century BC, and it only became an independent city in 352/3 BC when it was captured by Philip II. In 293 it became part of Demetrias and ceased to have an independent existence.

The coinage of Pagasai, of which very few silver coins and only a single bronze coin is known, must have been produced from the late 350s BC to perhaps 340/330 BC.

THESSALY, Pagasai. Mid 4th century BC. AR Obol (13mm, 0.87 g, 2h). Wreathed head of Apollo, three quarters facing to l., his hair long and hanging on the side and back of his head, border of dots / [Π] and A to l. and r. above, A and Γ to l. and r. below but upside down, lyre with six strings, all in incuse circle. Unpublished, unknown and unique; the only known obol of Pagasai. VF, lightly toned, the surfaces slightly crystallized and struck on an elongated flan.

This new denomination and obverse type for Pagasai brings the total of coins known for this city to five. As ASW succinctly noted after lot 1224 in Nomos 4, this is a coinage issued out of civic pride; this writer will add here that these fractional silver issues were probably struck in very limited quantities and only for special occasions. They may also have been subsidised by one or more wealthy citizens acting as sponsors to cultural or agonistic events. The reverse type remains the same for all known silver and so does the arrangement of the letters. The obverse of this coin is by far the most ambitious engraving seen on Pagasai silver up to now and may have been inspired by the wooden archaic statue or xoanon that probably adorned the god’s temple in the city.