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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 8. Estimate $4000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $3600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CALABRIA, Tarentum. Time of Alexander the Molossian. Circa 334-330 BC. AV Stater (8.55 gm). Struck circa 334-332 BC. TAPA, head of Hera right wearing stephane, veil on back of head / Nude youth on horse prancing right; horseman holds a lance pointed downward in his right hand and two more lances and a round shield in his left; thunderbolt before, APO[L] below. Vlasto 10 (same dies); SNG ANS -; SNG Lloyd -; SNG Copenhagen -; Jameson -; Gulbenkian -; Pozzi -; Weber -; HN Italy 905. VF, small bend in flan before face, probably ex-jewelry. Very rare. [See color enlargement on plate 1] ($4000)

From the James A. Ferrendelli Collection. Ex Triton I (2-3 December 1997), lot 47; Prof. Angelo Signorelli Collection, Part I (P. & P. Santamaria, 25 October 1951), lot 111.

The occasion for the issue of this gold stater, and the following four lots, was the intervention in Tarentine affairs of Alexander the Molossian, king of Epeiros, who arrived in the region in 334 BC ostensibly to assist the beleaguered state which was being threatened by the warlike Lucanians of the interior. His true purpose, however, was to extend his dominion in the West just as his namesake, the king of Macedon, was establishing a great empire in the East. After initial successes his career was abruptly terminated in 330 BC beneath the walls of Pandosia where he perished in battle against the Bruttians, much to the relief of the Tarentine Republic.

A.J. Evans, in his treatise, The 'Horsemen' of Tarentum (London, 1889), remarks on the exquisite beauty of the female head (with its “diaphanous veil”) on the obverse of this stater. The origin of the horseman type was probably agonistic, though it frequently took on a military aspect, as on this variety. The thunderbolt in reverse field may be taken as a reference to the Epeirote king.