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CNG Feature Auction 114

Lot nuber 237

MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 450-330 BC. EL Stater (16.5mm, 16.24 g).


CNG Feature Auction 114
Lot: 237.
 Estimated: $ 10 000

Greek, Electrum

Sold For $ 25 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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MYSIA, Kyzikos. Circa 450-330 BC. EL Stater (16.5mm, 16.24 g). Bearded head of Poseidon left, wearing helmet in the form of the scalp of a ketos; below, tunny left / Quadripartite incuse square. Cf. Hurter & Liewald I 17 (unlisted denomination); cf. SNG von Aulock 7291 (hekte); Roma XV, lot 236 (hammer £19,000); otherwise unpublished in the standard references. Slightly off center. Good VF. Extremely rare, apparently the second known stater for this issue.

From the Siren Collection.

The portrait has been identified by various numismatists as either Herakles, wearing a lion skin, or Perseus, wearing the skin of a griffin. Neither of these are very satisfactory. Those describing him as Herakles in a lion skin must have been referring to poorly preserved specimens, as the features on well-preserved examples clearly show that the portrait is not wearing the skin of a lion. At the same time, Perseus is unlikely to be shown wearing a beard, and the front end of the headdress has features that are inconsistent with the depiction of a griffin.

On close examination, the features of the headdress are identical to those of a ketos, a sea-monster depicted on many coins from disparate mints across the Mediterranean (most notably, Syracuse in Sicily and Halikarnasos in Caria). If the headdress is correctly that of a ketos, then the person is certainly not Perseus, but Herakles remains a possibility, as he did fight against one in his endeavor to rescuse the Trojan princess Hesione. However, another obvious candidate, given the marine nature of the portrait, would be Poseidon. Although he is most often depicted with an identifying trident, there are instances where this is not the case, particularly when his portrait is used on the obverse of a coin. Moreover, Poseidon (as Nethus) is depicted exactly as the portrait here on a group of bronzes from Etruria (cf. HN Italy 77–9 and EC I, pp. 319-21).

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 114 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 13-14 May 2020. This lot is in Session 1, which begins 13 May 2020 at 9 AM ET.

UPDATE: As the CNG staff and many of our clients remain under social distancing and other restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CNG 114 will be held as an internet only auction. The sale will take place as scheduled on 13-14 May 2020.

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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