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Kingdom of Pergamon

CNG 91, Lot: 243. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $4750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PERGAMON. Eumenes I. 263-241 BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 16.93 g, 1h). Struck circa 263-255/50 BC. Laureate head of Philetairos right / Athena enthroned left, resting elbow on small sphinx, holding shield and transverse spear; monogram on throne, ivy leaf to inner left, bow to outer right. Westermark Group III (V.XXVI/R.– [unlisted rev. die]); SNG France 1606–9; SNG von Aulock 1355; SNG Copenhagen 334. EF, toned, a couple marks.

When Lysimachos established the mint of Pergamon, he entrusted its treasury to the eunuch Philetairos. Philetairos changed his allegiance to Seleukos I, probably shortly before the Battle of Korupedion in 281 BC, where Seleukos defeated Lysimachos. Although Seleukos was assassinated the following year, Philetairos struck a series of Alexander-type issues in the name of Seleukos. Philetairos continued to acknowledge Seleukid primacy for some time, but soon struck a coinage in his own name. This coinage featured Athena Nikephoros on the reverse, similar to the reverses of Lysimachos. Perhaps because this move might have been viewed as a threat by his Seleukid overlord, the obverse of the first issues of these coins featured the portrait of Seleukos I. Houghton & Lorber (SC), citing Le Rider and Newell, assign this coinage to the aftermath of Antiochos I's victory over the Galatians, circa 269/8 BC. Near the end of Philetairos’ reign, in the mid-late 260s, the portrait of Seleukos was replaced with the portrait of the Pergamene king, noting a final break from Seleukid authority. Similar to what was done in Ptolemaic Egypt, all of the subsequent kings of Pergamon continued to use these types on the coinage, and even kept Philetairos’ name. Distinguishing the issues between the various rulers has been difficult for numismatists. Westermark’s die study of the coinage, however, provided the key necessary for understanding the series, and more recent hoard evidence, particularly the Meydancikkale hoard (and C. Arnold-Biucchi’s review of it in AJN 3-4 [1992], pp. 207-214) , has further refined Westermark’s assignment of the issues.