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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 64, Lot: 1069. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 24 September 2003. 
Sold For $650. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

HADRIAN. 117-138 AD. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (10.89 gm). Ephesus mint. Bare head right / Cult statue of Diana (Artemis) Ephesia; stags at sides. RIC III 474; Metcalf, Cistophori 31 var. (O18/R-; unlisted reverse die); RSC 535. VF. ($500)

The cistophoric tetradrachms first struck at Pergamon in the 2nd century BC continued as a form of uniform trade currency in western Asia Minor even after the imposition of Roman rule. Roman proconsuls, and later the emperors themselves, issued cistophori from a number of mints in western Asia Minor, such as Mysia, Ionia, and Lydia, even though the cista (serpent basket) had gradually disappeared as the main type and the coins were now tariffed at three Roman denarii. The central government kept tight reign over the minting and quality of these large denomination coins, in contrast to the irregular production cycles and extreme variation of style seen in the autonomous bronze coins of the same issuing cities. Thus these large silver coins are usually accounted among imperial coinage issues, rather than the provincial series. Hadrian was the last emperor to strike cistophori, and after the middle of the 2nd century most precious metal coinage production was centered farther east, at Antioch and other Syrian mints, and Alexandria in Egypt. Presumably enough silver in the form of Roman denarii was now reaching Asia Minor.