‡ Macedonia, Amphipolis, tetradrachm, c. 362/61 BC, laureate head of Apollo facing three-quarters right, rev., ΑΜΦΙΠΟΛΙΤΕΩΝ arranged around lighted torch; in right field, tripod, 14.24g, die axis 7.00 (Lorber 26a, this piece; Boston 537, same dies), toned, struck in high relief, extremely fine and of superb style, very rare Provenance: Saloniki hoard, 1859 (IGCH 368); Bompois collection, Hoffmann, Paris, 16 January 1882, lot 713; Marc collection, Platt, Paris, 3 April 1933, lot 72; de Nanteuil collection, Paris; Vinchon, Paris, 11 April 1988, lot 342; European Connoisseur collection (formed before 2002). Note: In the turbulent geopolitics of the Greek world, the competition for limited resources dictated a great deal of the strategy of local powers. Athens, in particular, was able to dominate the Aegean in the 5th century B.C. because of the huge amount of resources it could bring to bear, partly as a result of its establishment of colonies in key places. The colony of Amphipolis is an excellent example of this and was fiercely fought over for what it could offer: timber for ship building (Athen’s unrivalled naval power held the Delian League together under its control), gold and silver from the local Pangaion Hills, and access to the Scythian grain market. Having been founded in 437 B.C. by the Athenian general Hagnon, it became an important and flourishing city, but the success of colonies was not assured: the Athenians had tried to colonise the site, originally called Ennea-Hodoi (‘Nine Ways’), in 465 B.C., but Thucydides tells us that the ten thousand colonists they had sent were massacred by local Thracians (1.100.3). With such riches came the inevitability of violence: the Athenians lost the re-founded city to a Spartan-sponsored rebellion in 424 B.C. and then kept trying to win the city back by force until its semi-independence finally came to an end in 357 B.C. when it was conquered by king Philip II of Macedon. In the face of constant threat, however, Amphipolis was able to turn its wealth into a series of coins that - particularly its tetradrachms with the facing head of Apollo - are widely held to be among the most (if not the most) beautiful, bold and artistic issued in the ancient world. We witness an incredible range of stylistic decisions made in producing these Apollo heads, which can exude power, humanity, energy and sublimity in turn, and which ultimately can rival any ancient portraiture in detail, feeling and craftsmanship.
Estimate: GBP 200000-250000