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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 8, Lot: 200. Estimate CHF6000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 21 October 2013. 
Sold For CHF6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID KINGS of SYRIA. Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 27mm, 17.24 g 3), Uncertain mint in the East, influenced by Seleukeia-on-the-Tigris, c. 296/5 and later. Laureate head of Zeus to right. Rev. CΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΕΑΕΥΚΟΥ (sic! Athena, hurling spear with her right hand and holding shield with her left, standing right in quadriga of elephants briskly moving to right; above to right, anchor right. Classical Numismatic Group 72, 2006, 915 (same dies). Cf. SC 130. Very rare, an interesting and unusual coin with a powerful head of Zeus. Extremely fine.

From the York Collection, USA.

This is a very perplexing coin, but one which is surely very exciting. When the piece from the same dies appeared in 2006, it was suggested that it, and others similar to it, was merely an imitation, specifically because of the two apparent spelling mistakes on the reverse. These mistakes are, in fact, of little importance: the ‘C’ in ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ is actually merely a mishapen Β, caused by lack of space; while the true mistake of utilizing an Α for Λ in the king’s name is paralleled on other coins that were struck with dies cut by non-Greek engravers. Otherwise, the style is very good, with a tall head of Zeus that is quite similar to some late Classical or early Hellenistic heads from Olympia. What is very noteworthy is the lack of any control letters or monograms; this implies a special issue and suggests that coins of this type were struck on an ad hoc, emergency basis for military needs. This would have been done within an army camp utilizing a local engraver: fully competent but able to make orthographic mistakes because of the pressure of work.