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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Cabinet W
ELIS, Olympia. 107th Olympiad. 352 BC

Triton XV, Lot: 1014. Estimate $90000.
Sold for $95000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ELIS, Olympia. 107th Olympiad. 352 BC. AR Stater (23mm, 12.18 g, 1h). Laureate head of Zeus to right / FΑΛΕΙΩΝ, Eagle, with closed wings, standing right on Ionic column capital. BCD Olympia 132 (this coin); cf. Seltman 186–9. Extremely rare, the only example from this die pair known. A remarkably fine piece, beautifully toned and very well struck. Extremely fine.

Ex BCD Collection (Leu 90, 10 May 2004), lot 132; L. Biaggi Collection (Leu 20, 25 April 1978), lot 100.

This is one of the most powerful and impressive of all the heads of Zeus to be found on the coinage of Olympia. While there is serene majesty here, there is also a sense of deep-seated, hidden anger. Perhaps an anger that will build up until Zeus, finally enraged, begins hurling his deadly thunderbolt at an enemy. This wonderful coin first appeared in a Leu sale where a selection from the small but superb collection of Greek coins put together by the famous but elusive Swiss-Italian collector, L. Biaggi, was anonymously sold. He was well known for his enormous holdings of Roman gold coins, collected by type, but his Greek coins were, alas, never recorded.