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Mythological & Pictorial Types

The Judgment of Paris

Triton XXI, Lot: 161. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $32500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (35mm, 26.34 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/142). AVTOKPA KAIC A∆P ANTωNINOC L Є (date), bare head right / The Judgment of Paris – Raised platform upon which from left to right: Aphrodite standing facing, head left; Hera standing facing, holding long scepter and looking right; Athena standing facing, head left, holding spear with her left hand and balancing shield on platform with her right (all goddesses wearing their usual attire); to their left on the ground: Hermes standing facing, head left, looking at Paris, left hand raised and pointed at Aphrodite; to his left, Paris standing slightly right; above, L Є (date) and Eros flying right (not visible on this specimen); various animals before platform. Köln 1406 var. (obv. bust type and legend, same rev. die); Dattari (Savio) 2998; K&G 35.154; Emmett 1632.5 (R4); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 139 (this coin). Good VF, dark brown patina with touches of green. Extremely rare. None in CoinArchives. This coin shares the same dies with the Wetterstrom specimen (CNA XIII, lot 220).

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Gilbert Steinberg Collection (Numismatica Ars Classica/Spink Taisei Numismatics, Zürich, 16 November 1994), lot 841; Walter Niggeler Collection (Part 2, Bank Leu/Münzen und Medaillen, 21 October 1966), lot 729; Münzen und Medaillen AG XIII (17 June 1954), lot 948.

Another great rarity from the Alexandrian mythological type series, and the only example to be sold since the Wetterstrom example in 1990, which was of comparable quality and from the same pair of dies. Also, this coin uses the extremely rare dated obverse die with L Є appearing at the end of the obverse legend.

The Judgment of Paris, a mythical “beauty contest” of sorts, serves as a prelude to the Trojan War. Eris, goddess of discord, was excluded from a feast thrown by Zeus, but the scorned deity arrived uninvited with a golden apple inscribed “for the fairest.” Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each claimed the apple, and Zeus was asked to award it to the most beautiful. Zeus, wishing to avoid this uncomfortable situation, appointed the mortal Paris as judge, as the shepherd and prince of Troy had a reputation for his fairness. Each goddess attempted to sway Paris with a bribe in order to win the apple: Athena offered him incredible skill in battle, Hera offered him an immense kingdom, and Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris could not refuse Aphrodite’s offer, setting in motion the war between the Greeks and Trojans.