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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XV, Lot: 704. Estimate $150.
Sold for $1500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Pherai (?). Alexander. Tyrant, 369-358 BC. AR Hemiobol (8mm, 0.28 g, 12h). head and neck of bridled horse r., border of dots / horse’s lower leg and hoof r., all in linear square within shallow incuse square. Winterthur 1717 (as a tetartemorion of ‘the Thessalians’) = Moustaka p. 136, 174, pl. 4, 174 (as a ‘diobol’ of Larissa) = M+M list 182 (August 1958) 31 (as a ‘hemiobol’ of Pherai). Good Fine, toned; die flaw developing on the upper edge of the incuse square; extremely rare, perhaps the second known (?), but one more has appeared: Lanz 151 (30 June 2011) 369 (as Larissa)..

From the above three different attributions given to the only other published specimen, this writer prefers the ‘Pherai hemiobol’ theory, but he admits that there are serious reasons for doubting it. The coin listed in this catalogue is said to have been found on the northern borders of Thessaly, an area that was under the influence of the Macedonian kings; the weights of the two known pieces are too high for a tetartemorion on the Aiginetan standard - fractions in 4th century Thessaly tended to be underweight so that they would remain within the its boundaries; all the Pherai small fractions have at least Φ-E on their reverse; if on the other hand this coin was struck by Alexander of Pherai (as the M+M list suggests, with a question mark), the die cutter would surely find room for a minuscule AΛ, perhaps even AΛE (however, the incuse square is too early for Alexander’s coins - but probably not for an unknown up to now issue of Jason). Generally, such unepigraphic coins should be allocated to early Macedonian kings as they have common fabric and flan characteristics with some heavier fractions that are known to be Macedonian. Nevertheless, a Thessalian underweight Aiginetan hemiobol is a remote possibility (or this writer would like to think so) and this is the reason this miniature is listed here and not offered as a gift to a good friend who collects Macedonian coins.