MYSIA. Lampsakos. Circa 350 BC. Stater (Gold, 17 mm, 7.90 g, 3 h), reduced Persian standard. Laureate and bearded head of Zeus to left, with lotus-tipped scepter over his right shoulder. Rev. Forepart of Pegasos to right. Baldwin, Lampsakos, 29c and pl. II, 32-33 (I/β). Gulbenkian 691 ( same dies ). SNG Paris 1137. SNG von Aulock 7394. Traité II, pl. CLXXI, 3. Rare. A magnificent example of splendid late Classical style, beautifully struck in high relief and with a particularly noble and serene head of Zeus. A few light marks on the reverse, otherwise, extremely fine.
From the Kleinkunst Collection, ex Sotheby's, 3-4 October 1991, 37 and from the collection of a 'late collector' (Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, 1839-1898, or Baron Edmond Rothschild, 1845-1934), Sotheby's, 28-31 May 1900, 325 (sold for 74 £).
Lampsakos grew rich through sea trade, but its strategic location on the eastern entrance to the Hellespont also made it an attractive target for the major powers of the Classical and Hellenistic time, in particular Athens, Sparta, Persia and the Diadochi, all of which strove for control of the strait. Short periods of independence hence alternated with long years of foreign hegemony, a fate the city shared with many of its neighbors. What sets Lampsakos apart from other poleis of the area is its electrum and gold coinage. Most Greek cities rarely ever issued civic coins in electrum or gold, and if they did, it was usually in response to an imminent crisis that involved melting down treasuries. Lampsakos, on the other hand, struck a substantial amount of such coinage, consisting of a series of early electrum staters in the late 6th to 5th centuries and a wonderful run of gold staters in the 4th century BC. The long time span and the great variety of types reveal that this was a regular coinage, as in Kyzikos, although the fact that the later series was struck in gold rather than in electrum indicates a slightly different background. Lampsakos possessed its own gold mines and its 4th century staters were generally struck at par to the Persian darics of 8.3-8.45 g, the dominant gold coinage of the time. At least a small series of Lampsakenan staters was, however, as this example shows, struck to a reduced weight standard of circa 7.90 g (see also NAC 100, 29 May 2017, 150 ( same dies )), perhaps in response to a temporary shortage in bullion, as the same pair of dies was also used to strike staters on the full Persian standard.
That the Lampsakenan staters were used for military expenditures and 'international' payments, much like the Persian darics, is confirmed by two inscriptions recording the contribution of 84 and 500 χρουσίω Λαμψακανῶ στ̣[ατεῖρας] ('Lampsakenan gold staters', IG VII 2418) by Byzantion to Thebes during the Third Sacred War (355-346 BC). These numbers seem impressive at first glance, but the fact that Baldwin only recorded a mere 132 examples of all types amply shows that the staters of Lampsakos were a regional coinage and could not compete with the Persian darics on a grand scale, of which thousands have survived. On the other hand, the artistry displayed on the Lampsakenan dies is exceptional and the Zeus staters in particular are stunningly beautiful, with Agnes Baldwin enthusiastically commenting on this particular obverse die, the first in the series, as follows: 'we have among the obverses one die which is a most perfect die, artistically one of the finest representations of a Zeus head on this scale among Greek coins'.
|Price realized||42'000 CHF|
|Starting price||28'000 CHF|