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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Extremely Rare Pharnakes Stater

Triton XXI, Lot: 437. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $22500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of BOSPOROS. Pharnakes II. Circa 63-46 BC. AV Stater (20mm, 8.08 g, 12h). Pantikapaion mint. Dated Bosporan Era 247 (51/0 BC). Diademed head right / BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY ΦAPNAKOY, Apollo seated left on lion-footed throne, holding branch in extended right hand, left arm resting on kithara; tripod to left; to right, ZMΣ (date) above ivy leaf. Frolova & Ireland, dies A/k = G&K 12-3 (dies γ/K); MacDonald 186/2; Anokhin 220 var. (ivy leaf to left); HGC 7, 198; DCA 446. In NGC encapsulation, graded AU, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5. Extremely rare, only three examples dated 247 recorded by Frolova & Ireland (ANS, Gotha Herzogliches Münzkabinett [missing], and KMH [Vienna]), one additional in CoinArchives (Goldberg 62, lot 3085).

From the Jonathan P. Rosen Collection. Ex Alex Shubs Collection (Classical Numismatic Group 84, 5 May 2010), lot 574.

Pharnakes was awarded the Bosporan Kingdom by Pompey, for the betrayal of his father Mithradates VI, King of Pontos. Little is known of his 16-year reign except for its ending. During the Civil War between Pompey and Julius Caesar, Pharnakes tried to recapture his father's former territories in Pontos. He won a victory over Caesar's general, Domitius Calvinus, and ordered Romans in the region castrated or put to the sword. In response, Caesar launched a rapid five day war against Pharnakes in 47 BC, culminating in the battle of Zela. Caesar emerged victorious, prompting him to report back to the Senate with the now famous dictum, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered).