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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Cabinet W
ARKADIA, Stymphalos. Circa 350 BC

Triton XV, Lot: 1015. Estimate $300000.
Sold for $300000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ARKADIA, Stymphalos. Circa 350 BC. AR Stater (24mm, 12.04 g, 8h). Laureate head of Artemis to right, wearing a rosette and crescent earring from which hang five pendants, a necklace of pearls, and with her hair tied in a bun at the back / ΣΤΥΜΦΑΛΙΩΝ, Herakles, nude but for his lionskin wrapped around his left arm, striding to left and preparing to strike with his club held over his head with his right hand; between his legs, ΣΟ. BCD Peloponnesos 1705; Boston MFA 1269; Gulbenkian 560; Kraay & Hirmer 514. Extremely rare. A superb piece, beautifully toned and very probably the finest known example. Some very minor traces of corrosion, otherwise, good extremely fine.

Ex ‘Outstanding Collection’ (Leu 81, 16 May 2001), lot 226, and the Argos Hoard of 1966 (IGCH 130).

This exceptional coin was originally owned by one of the great collectors of the mid 20th century, who bought it privately in the late 1960s, and by whose heirs it was sold in Leu 81. The head of Artemis on the obverse is both elegant and youthful - not at all as hard and dangerous looking as she appears on other Stymphalian staters (see BCD 1700 and 1704; it is close to 1705 but is slightly more youthful). On the reverse, Herakles strides left to attack something or someone, but who? People have always assumed he was attacking the Stymphalian birds but, as has been pointed out before, he drove them off using his bow, not by attempting to brain them with his club! It seems more likely that this Herakles, whose pose is so reminiscent of that of the Athenian tyrant slayer Harmodios, actually symbolizes the liberation of Stymphalos from Spartan domination after the battle of Leuktra.