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Feature Auction
CNG Feature Auction 114

Lot nuber 323

IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 650-600 BC. EL Hekte – Sixth Stater (9mm, 2.29 g). Lydo-Milesian standard.

CNG Feature Auction 114
Lot: 323.
 Estimated: $ 5 000

Greek, Electrum

Sold For $ 5 500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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IONIA, Uncertain. Circa 650-600 BC. EL Hekte – Sixth Stater (9mm, 2.29 g). Lydo-Milesian standard. Plain globular surface; letters of an unknown script along part of edge / Incuse rectangle with geometric pattern. CNG 112, lot 264 (same dies); CNG 112, lot 264 (same obv. die); Heritage 3054, lot 30097 (same obv. die); Heritage 3020, lot 24985 (same obv. die); otherwise unpublished. As made. Very rare.

This coin is from part of a recently discovered issue of inscribed hektai with a plain obverse and rectangular incuse on the reverse, the first of which was noted in a private British collection in 2011. The prior analysis of these coins has associated the issue with the ubiquitous plain obverse hektai of Ionia, suggesting that this inscribed version was perhaps a late issue in the production of that coinage, with struck dates suggested in the 660s and 640s BC. Admittedly, the form of this issue, and its metrology, do comport with the uninscribed plain incuse issues of that period. However, the peculiar reverse punch of this issue should not be overlooked. With regard to the complex varieties of early electrum, associations and relative chronologies are often established through reverse die linkages or similarities of idiosyncratic punch forms.

The rectangular punch used for this issue bears little resemblance to the two small punches used on the uninscribed plain hektai of the mid 7th century. The use of two small square punches, in fact, appears to have been a canonical aspect of not only the plain hektai, but also the ubiquitous striated electrum issues also dated to the 7th century, and even the contemporary royal Lydian hektai that circulated throughout the region. These small punches were also plain in appearance, devoid of any designs. These aspects suggest that the inscribed plain hektai are not closely associated to the uninscribed plain issues. Moreover, a small group of these inscribed coins was presented to a researcher, which was accompanied by a known Carian issue that dated to the early 5th century BC. The researcher noted the surfaces and fabric of the issues appeared highly consistent, suggesting they were part of a single hoard. This, in turn, suggested that these electrum coins were struck later than the 7th century, possibly as late as the end of the 6th century.

Turning to the inscription, elements of the letters appear similar to a number of glyphs in the various alphabets that were used along the coast of western Asia Minor. However, as a whole, the letters most closely resemble those found in the Carian alphabet (see Tables I and II in I.J. Adiego, The Carian Language [Brill: Leiden, 2007]), though the exact interpretation of legend remains uncertain. Before the discovery of the first coin offered here (lot 263), only the first three letters were visible. That said, the inscription may actually be even longer, as its visibility on the coins is hampered by the low relief of the letters and their position on the edge of the die.

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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