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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Rape of Persephone

Triton XXI, Lot: 162. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $3000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (33mm, 19.36 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/142). [AVT K T AIΛ] A∆P AN[TωNINOC ЄVCЄB], laureate head right / The Rape of Persephone – Hades standing slightly right, head left, in quadriga right, holding the limp body of Persephone with his right hand and the reigns of the quadriga with his left; above, Eros flying right, L/Є (date) and rocks designating the cave entrance to the underworld. Köln 1410 (same dies); Dattari (Savio) 8851 (same dies–this coin?); K&G 35.158; Emmett 1525.5 (R5); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 138 (this coin). Fine, rough brown surfaces. Extremely rare. Dattari only owned one example of this type (no. 8851), and this coin closely matches the pencil rubbings in the Dattari-Savio plates, and indeed, may be the same specimen.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Bonhams/V.C. Vecchi & Sons 4 (4 December 1980), lot 439.

Another great rarity from the Alexandrian mythological type series, and the first to be sold since the Wetterstrom example in 1990, which was only slightly better.

Hades fell in love with Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, and asked Zeus for permission to marry her. Fearing to offend his eldest brother by a downright refusal, but also knowing that Demeter would not forgive him if Persephone were committed to the underworld, Zeus diplomatically answered that he could neither give nor withhold his consent. This act emboldened Hades to abduct Persephone as she was picking flowers in a meadow and carry her away in his horse-drawn chariot to the underworld.