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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

422, Lot: 231. Estimate $150.
Sold for $160. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MYSIA, Pergamon. Circa 166-67 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 12.34 g, 12h). Cistophoric type. Struck circa 88-85 BC. Cista mystica within ivy wreath / Two serpents entwined around bow and bowcase; BA and prytaneis monogram above, civic monogram to left, serpent-entwined thyrsos to right. Kleiner, Hoard 30; SNG BN 1730-1. VF, toned, a hint of porosity.

From the Macy Collection.

Recent scholarship has reframed the Attalid cistophori from a series emblematic of a closed monetary system, a theory proposed by earlier scholars, to a revolutionary coinage that defines an innovation in the structure of the Attalid state. Following the defeat of the Gauls in 166 BC, Eumenes II dramatically reorganized his kingdom. Civic structure now became the backbone of the state, with large amounts of money being spent to more thoroughly incorporate rural areas into the urban Pergamene kingdom. Key to this was the new cistophoric coinage, which was struck at a lower weight than the common Attic standard, to ensure circulation only within the kingdom. Andrew Meadows writes of the cistophoric issues: “This was a coinage designed to look federal, rather than royal. The king’s image was removed in favour of creating the impression of civic unity across clearly defined and identified space. Since the ‘mintmarks’ that appear on a number of these coinages do not in fact designate sites of production, we might speculate that their inclusion was at least partly an element of the ideological programme.” (“The Closed Currency System of the Attalid Kingdom,” in Attalid Asia Minor. Ed. Peter Thonemann. Oxford. 2013).