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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 223. Estimate $25000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $26000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 460-400 BC. EL Stater (15.98 gm). Diademed and radiate Helios, kneeling right, holding back his two prancing horses; tunny below / Quadripartite incuse square. Von Fritze I 148; Greenwell 23; SNG France 297; BMC Mysia pg. 33, 105; SNG Copenhagen -; Boston MFA 1515; SNG von Aulock 7311. EF with obverse framed by light red-brown toning, well struck and highly detailed. A wonderful example of the die-engraver's skill. [See color enlargement on plate 4] ($25,000)

Although Kyzikos copied the issues of other city-states for its coinage, it always included its local emblem, the tunny, in the design. The reasons for this are the subject of speculation. Yuri Pokras ("A New Iconography for the Electric Coins of Kyzikos," The Celator [November 2000], pp.18-26) has tried to argue that Athens invested Kyzikos with the status of subsidiary mint, and that the presence of specific types parallels each city-state's inclusion into an alliance with Athens. Since no known numismatic archetype for our stater exists elsewhere, its design must refer to some local connection with Helios.

Kyzikos, the eponymous founder of the city, was related to Apollo, either as his son or grandson. By the 5th century BC, Apollo had become identified with Helios, the god of the Sun, who drove his fiery chariot across the sky. Through this connection, the town could claim an association with the sun-god and thus, adopt him as their own city emblem.