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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Triton XXI, Lot: 393. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $10000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MACEDON, Skione. Circa 480-470 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm, 16.57 g, 3h). Head of Protesilaos right, wearing Attic helmet with crest inscribed ΠPO[TEΣΛ]AΣ (retrograde) / Stern of galley, with aphlaston, left; Σ-K-I-O around; all within incuse square. AMNG III/2, –; HGC 3, 668; SNG Spencer-Churchill 124; ACGC 470 = Kraay & Hirmer 393 = GPCG Period II, 20 = G.F. Hill, “Greek Coins Acquired by the British Museum in 1925” in NC 1925, 7; Alpha Bank, Macedonia 79; Boston MFA Supp. 44; Dewing 1076; Traité I 1629. Good VF, lightly toned, graffiti in field on reverse. Exceptional for issue. Rare.

From the Belgica Collection. Ex Elsen 93 (15 September 2007), lot 126 (hammer €14,000); Elsen 49 (19 April 1997), lot 223.

In his famous work on Greek coinage, with its wonderful illustrations by Max Hirmer, Colin Kraay called this issue “[t]he most remarkable” of the early coinage of the Chalkidike. These tetradrachms depict the hero Protesilaos, the legendary founder of Skione, who is better known from his role in the Iliad.

One of Helen’s numerous suitors, Protesilaos was the first of the Greek heroes to arrive in the Troad – and the first to die. According to Hyginus (Fabulae 103), an oracle declared that the first Greek to walk upon the land after departing his ship to fight the Trojans would be the first to die. Upon leaping from his ship onto the shore, he was slain by the Trojan hero, Hektor, although some ancient sources dispute this. At Skione, Protesilaos is reported to have had a founder-cult. According to the Augustan era mythographer Konon (FGrHist 133a3), Protesilaos survived the Trojan War. Returning home with Aithilla, the sister of Priam, he and his men were forced to found the future Skione, when they were stranded there after Aithilla and the other Trojan women burned the ships. That Protesilaos was closely associated with Skione (and thus the inspiration for Konon’s story) since the Classical period, is clear from this rare tetradrachm, which identifies Protesilaos on the obverse.