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Research Coins: Feature Auction


A Masterpiece of Numismatic Art

Triton XV, Lot: 1182. Estimate $75000.
Sold for $60000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ARKADIA, Arkadian League. Circa 363-362 BC. AR Stater (24mm, 12.19 g, 1h). Head of Zeus Lykaios left, wearing laurel wreath / Young Pan seated left, head facing, on rock covered by his mantle, holding lagobolon in his right hand, leaning on his left arm; Arkadian League monogram to left, syrinx below, OΛVM in small letters at bottom of rocks. Gerin 3–12 var. (dies 1/– [unlisted rev. die]); BCD Peloponnesos (Megalopolis) 1511 (same dies); SNG Copenhagen –; BMC 49; SNG Fitzwilliam 3851 (same obv. die); Gulbenkian 532 (same obv. die); Seltman, Masterpieces of Greek Coinage 48b = Weber 4259 (same obv. die); Traité pl. CCXXIV, 2 = Mionnet II pg. 244, 7 (same obv. die). Near EF, lightly toned, usual die break on obverse. Very rare. A wonderful example of late classical art.

Ex Nomos 2 (18 May 2010), lot 97 [incorrectly listing rev. die c]; Triton VIII (11 January 2005), lot 329.

One of the great rarities of the late Classical coinage of Greece, and a true masterpiece of Greek numismatic art. There are 33 of these staters known to Gerin, of which 21 are in public museums. Two previous great examples have been sold in recent years. The BCD specimen in LHS 96 (8 May 2006), lot 1512, sold for 220,000 CHF, and the Gillet coin from Kunstfreund, which reappeared as lot 224 in Leu 77 (11 May 2000), sold for 240,000 CHF on an estimate of 80,000.

After the Boeotian victory over the Spartans at Leuktra in 371 BC, an anti-Spartan democratic movement arose in Arkadia in the central Peloponnesos. By 369 BC a confederacy of most of the Arkadian city-states was established, and, under the auspices of the Boeotian leader Epaminondas, a city was founded by combining five pre-existing neighboring villages. This new urban center, Megalopolis, became the capital of the short-lived Arkadian League and, like Messene, a fortified buffer against Spartan power in the Peloponnesos. Though it experienced difficulties with its constituent communities, Megalopolis developed into the largest city in Arkadia and exerted a strong influence in the Peloponnesos.

These staters of the Arkadian League, struck at Megalopolis, were produced at the height of the confederacy’s power. The head of Zeus is likely adopted from Leochares’ statue of Zeus Brontaios at Olympia, a city the League conquered just prior to the issue of these staters. According to Gerin’s dating, these staters comprised a short series struck from Spring 363 until the Battle of Mantinea in July 362. Thereafter the League dissolved into two factions, respectively centered on Megalopolis and Mantinea, and each entered a steady decline into irrelevancy.