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Triton XXIV

Lot nuber 647

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Pharnabazos. Persian military commander, circa 398-396/5 BC. AR Tetradrachm (21mm, 14.22 g, 7h).

Triton XXIV
Lot: 647.
 Estimated: $ 5 000

Greek, Coin-in-Hand Video, Silver

Sold For $ 13 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Pharnabazos. Persian military commander, circa 398-396/5 BC. AR Tetradrachm (21mm, 14.22 g, 7h). Head of Pharnabazos right, wearing satrapal cap tied below his chin, and diadem; [ΦAP-N]-A-BA around / Ornate ship’s prow left, decorated with a griffin and prophylactic eye; before and [aft], two dolphins downward; below, tunny left; all within shallow incuse circle. Maffre 7 (D7/R5); Bodzek 4 = BM mus. no. 1892,0703.1 = ACGC 951 = Meadows, Administration 330 (same dies); Winzer 9.3; SNG Copenhagen Supp. 303; SNG BN 395; SNG von Aulock 1216; Kraay & Hirmer 718. Lightly toned, irregular flan, some roughness, cleaning scratches. Good VF. Very rare, Maffre located thirteen extant examples, eight of which are in museum collections, one additional in CoinArchives.

Pharnabazos, a member of the Persian nobility, was satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, which later became the satrapy of Daskylion. In 399 BC, a war between Sparta and Persia ensued. Agesilaos, one of the Spartan kings, attacked the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia. Though hard pressed by the Spartan invasion of his territory, Pharnabazos was able to organize the Persian fleet under the command of the mercenaries Konon of Athens and Evagoras of Salamis, and destroy the Spartan fleet at Knidos in 394 BC. At the same time, he assisted Athens with financial aid to further undermine the Spartans. The land campaign, however, was less successful and the war dragged on. The arrival of a Spartan delegation at the Persian capital resulted in a peace treaty and, contrary to the wishes of Pharnabazos, a renewed alliance. For all of his work, Pharnabazos was recalled from his satrapy and married to the king's daughter, Apame.

This exceptional coinage of Kyzikos was struck during this period of warfare between the Spartans and Persians. The issue commenced after Pharnabazos received the responsibility for the management of the Achaemenid navy in 398 BC, and ended with the temporary closure of the mint in 396 BC due to the Spartan presence in the area. Maffre's die study suggests that, although only thirteen examples are known today, the coinage was quite massive. Echoing the earlier observations of G. Le Rider and O. Casabonne, Maffre discounts the temptation of earlier numismatists to assign the coinage to a special emission commemorating a specific naval victory. Instead, the sheer size of the emission suggests that the issue was likely used to finance Pharnabazos' navy in general –- not only the construction and maintenance of hundreds of ships, but also the service of thousands of men. While the coinage did not commemorate a particular naval victory, it was instrumental in facilitating Pharnabazos' naval success that culminated in the Battle of Knidos.

The final winners of all Triton XXIV lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 January 2021. This lot is in Session Two, which begins 19 January 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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