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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Cabinet W
PHOKIS, Delphi. Amphictionic issues. Circa 336-334 BC

Triton XV, Lot: 1017. Estimate $150000.
Sold for $160000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHOKIS, Delphi. Amphictionic issues. Circa 336-334 BC. AR Stater (23mm, 12.27 g, 4h). Head of Demeter to left, wearing wreath of wheat ears and veil / ΑΜΦΙΚΤΙΟΝΩΝ, Apollo Pythios, laureate and wearing a chiton, seated left on an omphalos draped with his himation and covered with a network of knotted woolen cords. His right elbow is propped on his kithara, he rests his chin on his right hand and he holds a long laurel branch over his shoulder with his left hand, which rests on his left knee. In the field to left, tripod (here barely visible). P. Kinns, “The Amphictionic Coinage Reconsidered,” NC 1983, 11 (O 2/R 7) = E. J. P. Raven, “The Amphictionic Coinage at Delphi,” NC 1950, dies A/c = Kraay & Hirmer 462 = Warren 760 (this coin). Extremely rare. A lovely toned coin of great charm. Extremely fine.

Purchased privately from the BCD Collection in 2002. Ex Leu 20 (25 April 1978), lot 86; Hirsch XXX (11 May 1911), lot 489; Frank Sherman Benson Collection (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 3 February 1909), lot 506; Edward P. Warren Collection, no. 760; and from the Myonia Hoard of 1899 (IGCH 66).

The Temple of Apollo was destroyed by an earthquake in 373 and almost immediately the members of the Amphictionic League began collecting contributions to rebuild it. The process suffered numerous interruptions but was finally finished c. 330 BC; the collected silver was, however, struck into coins in the mid 330s as recorded in the fragmentary accounts of the Amphictions. In Kinns’ reworking of Raven’s original study of these coins, and of the treasury accounts that refer to them, he was able to provide us with a good idea about how many coins were actually struck - and their survival rate. In the case of the staters, of which Kinns was able to record 26 genuine examples, this would mean that only one out of approximately ten thousand pieces originally struck still survives. As with so many Greek coins, the beauty of this coin’s design, with its lovely head of Demeter and its figure of a pensive Apollo sitting on the omphalos that marked the center of the world, shows how the Greeks believed that the money they minted had to be both useful and attractive to the eye.