Leu Numismatik

Auction 11  –  14 May 2022

Leu Numismatik, Auction 11

Celtic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Coins

Sa, 14.05.2022, from 1:00 PM CEST
The auction is closed.


★ A beautifully preserved and exceptionally complete trite of Phanes ★

IONIA. Uncertain. Phanes, circa 625-600 BC. Trite (Electrum, 13 mm, 4.69 g). Σ OƎИAΦ Stag standing to right, head lowered to sniff at an ornamental blossom; body covered with indentations. Rev. Two incuse squares, each with raised intersecting lines within. CNG 91 (2012), 271 ( same dies ). Fischer-Bossert, Phanes, 6 (O6/R4S&6L). Gemini XIII (2017), 65 ( same dies ). Kraay & Hirmer 585. Weidauer 40. Very rare and of great historical and numismatic importance. A beautifully preserved, sharply struck and unusually complete example with full legend. A few minor light scratches and with a light graffito of Λ on the obverse, otherwise, good very fine.

Few Greek coins rival with the Phanes series in numismatic importance. As the first coins in history to bear legends, they have been the subject of many scholarly debates since the first attempted reading of the British Museum stater in 1833 by Mionnet (BMC Ionia p. 47, 1 and pl. III, 8). In 1870, seven years before the piece was donated to the BM, C. Newton made a first breakthrough in reading its inscription as 'ΦAENOR EMI ΣHMA', which has since been refined to ΦANOΣ EMI ΣHMA, 'I am the badge of Phanes', through the reading of tritai, such as our piece, which offer clearer legends, albeit shortened to the possessive name only (for a detailed discussion of the history of scholarship, see Fischer-Bossert's recent study on Phanes, pp. 435-436).

Unsurprisingly, this discovery made headlines in the numismatic community, as it became clear that the coins really did, for the first time in history, name a minting authority, a development of tremendous historical and numismatic importance. Various suggestions as to who our mysterious Phanes may be have been put forward over the decades, ranging from Ephesos (or Phanai), the Artemision, the community of the god Phanes, the mercenary general Phanes known from Herodot 3.4 and 11, to individuals unknown to subsequent history such as a local dynast, a merchant, a banker, or a civic magistrate. The reality, however, is that we simply do not know who Phanes was, nor where he struck his coins, which so clearly bear his name and carry his personal badge. Traditionally assigned to Ephesos based on the stag motif, as well as the discovery of a 1/12 stater in the Artemision, Fischer-Bossert comes to the conclusion that all we can say for now is that the enigmatic series likely originates from central or northern Ionia. A connection to the city of Ephesos specifically thus remains, for the moment, speculative.

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Price realized 38'000 CHF
Starting price 16'000 CHF
Estimate 20'000 CHF
The auction is closed.
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