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Ancient coins of particulary accomplished style and artistry.
Kyzikos, Mysia, c. 550 - 450 B.C.
Kyzikos, purportedly the first Milesian colony, was located on the southwest shore of the Propontis in ancient Mysia next to the river Aisepos. Its prosperity was due principally to its two fine harbors, which made the city a convenient stopping point for merchant ships trading between the Aegean and Black Seas. Its principal export was the tunny, of which its waters had abundant stock. The prevalence of winged beings in Kyzikene coinage is a reflection of archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. In the case of the winged animals, we should probably understand these to be attributes of or animals sacred to a particular Olympian god.SH86217. Electrumstater, Von Fritze I (Nomisma VII) 104 & pl. 3, 23; Boston MFA 1433; SNG BnF 245; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Mysia -, VF, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 16.091 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos mint, c. 550 - 450 B.C.; obverse winged dog seated left, head turned back right, curved archaic wing, wearing collar, tunny fish below to left; reverse quadripartite incuse square; extremely rare; $7400.00 (€6290.00)
Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.
The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.SH86120. Orichalcumsestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverseNEROCLAVDCAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; $4680.00 (€3978.00)
Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.
This is the rarest Othodenariustype and one of the rarest 1st century Roman denarii. Only two museums, Paris and ANS, hold examples. A further specimen was found in archeological context in Denmark in 1990s. Besides these, four additional specimens are known. This coin has the best portrait and is clearly the most attractive of the seven known. Jyrki Muona obtained it in 2002 at the NYINC from Glenn Woods.
Otho minted three separate issues. The first and second issues followed Galba's standard of 90% silver. Otho's third issue was debased to 80% silver. All coins of the third issue share the reverselegendPONT MAX, perhaps to make it easy to distinguish the debased coins. One might think our rare coin is a reverselegend error for Otho's third issue, PONT MAXCerestype. However, as Butcheret al. have shown, this is not the case. If CERES AVG was a simple reverselegend error, the flan would be 80% silver. This CERES AVGtype was struck in a second issue of 90% silver flans, probably during planning for the third issue, and perhaps only for testing. The type was apparently not distributed, and was withdrawn, and melted when it was decided to debase the coinage and use the PONT MAXlegend. It appears a small number were released, most likely by mistake.RS85563. Silver denarius, Muona Otho 10b; Butcher-Ponting-Muona 6; ANSCD 1958.217.1; BnF III 1; RIC I 1 (R3, 7 spec. known, all minted with the same die-pair), Nice VF, the best portrait and most attractive of the seven known specimens, light rose toning, a few light marks and spots of porosity, weight 3.272 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHOCAESAR AVG TRP, bare head right; reverseCERES AVG, Ceres standing left, grain-ears raised in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; rarest Othodenariustype; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Glenn Woods (NYINC, 2002); $4050.00 (€3442.50)
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.SH86210. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XVIIa, 586 (V291/R396); SNG ANS 189 (same dies); McClean 2670 (same); Pozzi 582 (same); HGC 2 1313, gVF, finestyle, lightly toned, well centered, tight flan as always for the type, light bumps and marks, light porosity, slight die shift on reverse, pre-strike casting sprue remnant, weight 16.999 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 135o, Syracuse mint, c. 440 - 430 B.C.; obverse Charioteer driving quadriga right, Nike flying right above crowning horses, ketos right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, hair bound with wide taenia, four dolphins swimming around; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 143; ex Allan Smith M.D. Collection; ex CNG auction 81 (20 May 2009), lot 162; rare; $3000.00 (€2550.00)
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reigns in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2800.00 (€2380.00)
Syracuse, Sicily, Deinomenid Tyranny, Time of Hieron, c. 478 - 467 B.C.
From the height of Syracuse preeminence amongst the Sicilian Greeks, shortly after the great victory over the Carthaginian invaders at Himera in 480 B.C.SH86274. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer 338 (V166/R236); Randazzo 507 - 509 (same dies); SNG ANS -, gVF, fantastic style, toned, centered on a tight flan, small areas struck a little flat, marks, pre-strike flan casting sprues remaining (as usual for the type), weight 16.971 g, maximum diameter 29.0 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 478 - 467 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by male charioteer, kentron in right hand, reigns in left hand, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣVRA-KOS-I-ON (Latin R upside down, N reversed), Artemis-Arethusa right, archaic eye, hair slightly waved in front turned up in a krobylos under a diadem of beads, wearing earring and necklace, surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise; ex Roma Numismatics, auction 6 (29 Sep 2013), lot 441; ex Comery Collection; $2500.00 (€2125.00)
Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.
With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.SH86808. Electrum 50 litrai, Jenkins Group B (O4/R3); SNG ANS 621 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily p. 184, 263 (same); de Luynes 1267 (same); HGC 2 1294, VF, attractive style, centered on a tight flan, lightly toned, light marks, die crack on reverse, weight 3.587 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 306 - 305 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, amphora behind; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (clockwise from upper right), ornamented tripod lebes, high ring handles; ex Classical Numismatic Group, e-auction 412, lot 38; ex John A. Seeger Collection; ex Classical Numismatic Group, auction 76 (12 Sep 2007), lot 3013; $2300.00 (€1955.00)
Phokaia, Ionia, c. 521 - 478 B.C.
Phocaea, or Phokaia, was the northernmost Ionian city, on the boundary with Aeolis. The Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, developed a thriving seafaring economy, became a great naval power, and founded the colonies Massalia (Marseille, France), Emporion (Empúries, Spain) and Elea (Velia, Italy). They remained independent until all of mainland Ionia fell to Croesus of Lydia (c. 560-545 B.C.). In 546 B.C., Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia. After the Greeks defeated Xerxes I, Phocaea joined the Delian League, but later rebelled with the rest of Ionia. In 387 B.C., Phocaea returned to Persian control. After Alexander, it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid, and finally Roman rule.SH86291. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 32, 7 (c/γ); Weber III 5736 (= Bodenstedt 7); Boston MFA 1906, SNG Kayhan -; SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Ionia -, Rosen -, EF, superb archaic style, well struck, tight flan, bumps and scratches (mostly on edge), tiny edge crack, weight 2.566 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, Phokaia (Foca, Turkey) mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse archaic stylehead of Athena right, wearing Corinthian helmet, almond shaped eye, slight smile, long hair in rows of dots, dotted necklace, seal upward behind; reverse quadripartite incuse square; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.
Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.SH86292. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, Boston MFA 1679; BMC Lesbos p. 157, 20; HGC 6 938 (S), Choice EF, weight 2.547 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverseincuse calf's head left; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
Athens, Greece, Old StyleTetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.
During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.SH86607. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice EF, a few light bumps and marks, weight 17.155 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obversehead of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $2000.00 (€1700.00)