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Research Coins: Feature Auction



Triton XV, Lot: 809. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $15000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Skyros (IACP 521)

Settlement on Skyros can be traced back as early as the Mesolithic period, and the island was an important terminus in prehistoric times. According to Greek mythology, Theseus died on the island (for the discovery of his bones by Kimon, see Plut. Thes. 36; Cim. 8), while Sophokles (Philoktetes, 239) states that it was the home of Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles. Originally inhabited by Pelasgians (IG XII.8), following Kimon's defeat of the Dolopian pirates there in 476/5 BC, Skyros was subjected to andrapodismos (enslavement of its citizens), repopulated with Athenian cleruchs, and enrolled in the Delian League. In 340 BC, the island came under Macedonian control where it remained until 192 BC, when it was restored to Athens.

Aside from a very peculiar and an extremely rare silver coinage ascribed to the pirates in the 480s BC, and known only from a pair of hoards and a goodly number of Christodoulos forgeries, there are no other coins except a rare bronze issue by the Athenian cleruchs in the 1st century BC (Agora XXVI, 160).

ISLANDS off THESSALY, Skyros. Circa 485-480 BC. AR Didrachm (22mm, 8.67 g). Two long horned and bearded goats, opposed vertically, back to back, with their heads turned inwards and their legs extended; between them, five-lobed fig leaf / stellate design composed of a large central globule surrounded by four smaller ones and by two rays (towards the upper l. and lower r.) and two three-lobed fig leaves (towards the upper r. and the lower l.); all within incuse square. Balcer, Archaic 18 (A. 7 / P. 4) pl. 26, 18 (this coin); Jameson 2122 (this coin); see also Nomos 4, 1367 (same dies). VF, toned; edge metal flaw on the obverse at 9 o’clock; usual die breaks on reverse; neither side perfectly centred; very rare, a captivating coin. From the collection of Robert Jameson.

Ex Hess-[Leu] [1] (4 April 1954) 133.

The writer remembers a brief holiday on Skyros with Douglas Saville and his family during Easter time, many years ago. It was too early for the fig season but we did not see any goats or pirates either (see ASW’s note after lot 1367 in Nomos 4). Times change...