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Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I

Lot nuber 189

MACEDON, Chalkidian League. Circa 349 BC. AV Stater (16mm, 8.47 g, 1h). Olynthos mint; Eudoridas, magistrate.

Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I
Lot: 189.
 Estimated: $ 10 000

Greek, Gold

Sold For $ 15 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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MACEDON, Chalkidian League. Circa 349 BC. AV Stater (16mm, 8.47 g, 1h). Olynthos mint; Eudoridas, magistrate. Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath, with long hair hanging down the back of his neck / Kithara, star on lower right panel; X-A-Λ-KIΔ-EΩN around, EΠI EYΔΩPI[ΔA] below. Robinson & Clement Group W, IV (A IV/P IV); AMNG III/2 25; HGC 3, 495; BMC 2 = Traité IV 936, pl. CCCXII, 19 (same dies); Jameson 942 (same obv. die); Hermitage Sale II 586 (same obv. die). A few marks. VF. Extremely rare, one of four known for this issue, and one of fewer than 20 gold staters known for the Chalkidian League.

From the Jonathan P. Rosen Collection. Ex Gorny & Mosch 236 (7 March 2016), lot 126.

Taking advantage of the loosening of Athenian control over the Chalkidike due to the Peloponnesian War, in 432/1 BC the cities of the region formed themselves into a league with its capital at Olynthos. The failure of Athens to break up the Chalkidian League - one of the terms of the Peace of Nikias in 421 BC - as well as a general strategic disinterest in the region, helped to solidify the League's power and position. As a result of this situation, the League began striking silver coinage in its own name. Adopting the local "Phoenician" standard already in use by Olynthos, only tetrobols were minted in any quantity at first, but after about 420 BC, tetradrachms were regularly struck. The very rare issues of gold staters, struck on the Attic standard, are certainly tied to the tumultuous events in the second quarter of the 4th century BC.

The political situation in which the League found itself at that time was influenced by the competing interests of Athens, who had historic ties to the region, Sparta, who constantly sought to check any advance of Athenian power, and the Macedonian Kingdom, which sought to expand its influence over its neighbor to the south. Sparta's defeat at Leuktra in 371 BC, and the subsequent peace, provided Athens with the opportunity to reconstitute the Second Athenian Empire, beginning with the Chalkidike. In 365 BC, the Athenian general, Timotheos, began to conquer territory in the northern Aegean on behalf of Athens. He quickly subdued the island of Samos and gained a foothold in the Thracian Chersonese, from where he could direct his attention to the Chalkidike. With the help of Perdikkas III of Macedon, Timotheos attacked the League and its capital, Olynthos. Although unable to take the capital, Timotheos was successful in quickly capturing a large part of the League's territory. His campaign was so successful that he used the opportunity to attack his erstwhile ally, Macedon, as well. In 363 BC, in addition to seizing the city of Potidaia, an important Chalkidian port near the League capital of Olynthos, Timotheos also captured the Macedonian ports of Methone, Terone, and Pydna, located in the Thermian Gulf. For all of his initial success against the Chalkidian League, however, Timotheos was unable to conquer Amphipolis, or solidify his hold over the areas he seized, and eventually abandoned his northern Aegean enterprise in 360 BC. In the years immediately following, it would be Amyntas' youngest son, Philip II, who would achieve what both the Chalkidian League and Timotheos were unable to do - bring the entire region and all of its cities and tribes under one authority. In 348 BC Philip dissolved the League.

For what purpose were these extremely rare Attic-standard gold staters struck? Given the regional turmoil at the time, a possible explanation would be that the coins were an emergency issue meant for the payment of local Thracian mercenaries due to a scarcity of silver. Psoma, however, shows that the League regularly struck significant amounts of silver coinage during this period, something that would be impossible if no supply of silver was available. As such, payments to mercenaries probably would have been in the form of the League's silver issues, whose Phoenician weight standard was common throughout the region. At this time, gold was rarely coined in the Greek world, with only the Persian Empire and Kyzikos minting issues with any regularity. Most often gold was struck when necessity required its use, as it had been at Athens late in the Peloponnesian War. Coinciding as it did with the League's war against Athens, this gold issue (as well as similar extremely rare gold Attic staters issued from the League's then ally Amphipolis) had to be struck not for local consumption, but for foreign recipients who required payment in coinage struck on the Attic standard. Bribes in gold are known to have been a part of classical diplomacy. The Persian Empire tried to affect the outcome of the Peloponnesian War by funneling darics to both Athens and Sparta, and Philip II, once he gained control of Mt. Pangaion, struck coinage on the Attic standard (including staters), which he used to gain control over the Greek city-states (cf. Dem. 5.5). Thus, if the League's staters were not for payments to mercenaries, they most likely were made to acquire influential overseas support through bribes.

The final winners of all Triton XXIII lots will be determined at the live public sale that will be held on 14-15 January 2020. Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I will be held Tuesday morning, 14 January 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and in person at the public auction, 22.50% for all others.