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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Signed by Aristoxenos
Numismatically Interesting Reverse Die

CNG 109, Lot: 14. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LUCANIA, Metapontion. Circa 400-340 BC. AR Nomos (20.5mm, 7.74 g, 8h). Obverse signed by the artist Aristoxenos. Head of Demeter left, hair in ampyx and ornamented sphendone; APIΣTO on neck truncation (traces visible) / Barley ear with six grains and leaf to right; ethnic to right, the first letter in linear form, the latter three in dotted form. Noe 433/436 (same obv./rev. dies); HN Italy 1521. VF, toned, slightly off center on obverse. Very rare and numismatically interesting.

From the Gasvoda Collection.

The present coin is numismatically interesting for details on both of its sides. The obverse die used on this piece was signed by the artist Aristoxenos. K. Rutter, in HN Italy, noted that "[t]he dies signed by Aristoxenos are among the finest in the whole Metapontine series." Coins struck from this die are known from many important collections, such as Bement, Jameson, and McClean, but nearly all of them do not note the signature, as its placement along the truncation, a high point in the relief, rendered it unreadable, if not wholly missing, on most examples. Interestingly, the present coin represents the latest use of this particular obverse die, which had only been known previously from examples of Noe 433 and 434.

Regarding the reverse, in his description of type 436, Noe suggested that the dotted letters were possibly indicative of the manner in which the letters of the ethnic were cut. However, Noe incorrectly thought all of the letters were engraved in this manner, whereas the first letter was not; it was engraved in the traditional manner, where dots were used for each end of a line within the letter. With this in mind, one cannot suggest anything other than that the engraver was using his “artistic license” in crafting this die. In fact, one may also observe the use of larger pellets along the awns of each barley grain. Using dots along the awns was canonical at Metapontion, but here they are enlarged to an equal size as the pellets within the epigraphy.