Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich

Auction 114 - Part I

Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 114 - Part I

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Coins

Tu, 07.05.2019, from 11:00 AM CEST
The auction is closed.


Attica, Athens. Decadrachm circa 467-465, AR 42.53 g. Head of Athena r., wearing crested helmet, earring and necklace; bowl ornamented with spiral and three olive leaves. Rev. A – Θ – E Owl standing facing, with spread wings; in upper l. field, olive sprig with two leaves and berry. The whole within incuse square. AGGC 188. Starr Group IIC. Svoronos pl. 8, 15. Seltman cf. 445-452. Kraay-Hirmer 358. Fischer-Bossert The Athenian Decadrachm 19c (this coin).
Extremely rare and one of the finest specimens of the few in private hands. Of the highest
numismatic and historical interest and undoubtedly one of the most prestigious Greek
coins. Struck in high relief and perfectly centred on reverse, minor marks,
otherwise about extremely fine

Ex New York sale XXVII, 2012, Prospero, 369.

Athenian decadrachms rank high among the prizes of ancient Greek coinage, with only a few examples existing in public or private collections. The purpose of these massive coins, and their dating, has long excited debate among scholars. In recent years a careful study of hoard evidence has shattered some enduring myths, and these coins are now attributed to a period of perhaps several years in the mid-460s B.C., making them contemporary with the 'Demareteion' decadrachms of Syracuse. According to Herodotus, this denomination was used to pay bonuses to Athenian citizens for surpluses from the nearby silver mines at Laurium. Had this been true, the decadrachms would have been struck in the years following the Greek victory over the Persians at Marathon in 490 B.C. It is interesting that both ancient literary accounts concerning decadrachms – Herodotus for Athens and Diodorus Siculus for the 'Demareteion' issue of Syracuse – are incorrect, and have caused a great deal of misunderstanding. The purpose of decadrachms has also been debated. Barclay Head, writing nearly a century ago, echoed the thoughts of his contemporaries when he said decadrachms were "...chiefly issued on special occasions or for the personal gratification of Tyrants or Kings, and not for common currency." In fact, we now know the decadrachms of Athens and the Syracusan issues in the style of Kimon and Euainetos had legitimate and enduring roles in the monetary system, though never a commonplace one. The large silver coins of Northern Greece (principally octadrachms and dodecadrachms) were purely commercial coins, quite often struck for export. The decadrachms of Acragas, and possibly the 'Demareteion Master' decadrachms of Syracuse, may be exceptional in this regard, as the latter may have a yet-unrecognized commemorative purpose, and the former almost certainly commemorates a charioteer's victory at the 92nd Olympiad in 412 B.C.

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Price realized 650'000 CHF
Starting price 320'000 CHF
Estimate 400'000 CHF
The auction is closed.
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