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Coin Detail
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ID:     90010117
Type:     Greek
Issuer:     Seleucus I Nicator
Date Ruled:     312-281 BC
Metal:     Bronze
Denomination:     Tetradrachm
Date Struck:     Virtually as .
Weight:     17.06 3 g
Primary Reference:     Barron 118a (this coin)
Photograph Credit:     Classical Numismatic Group
Grade:     De Hirsch 1531
Notes:     Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 117 KF 222 (this coin) From the Spina collection, ex Leu 91, 10 May 2004, 163 and from the collections of D. FÉret, Vinchon, 24 November 1994, 252, C. Gillet, Kunstfreund, Bank Leu/MÜnzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 222, and H. Otto, Hess 207, 1 December 1931, 578, and ex Naville X, 15 June 1925, 698.The types on the coins of Samos relate to the cult of Hera, whose great temple on the island was one of the most famous in the ancient world. The lion’s mask is that of a skin that served to adorn the cult statue of Hera; on the reverse is one of the two perfectly white oxen that drew the sacred cart carrying the goddess’s statue during her festival. While the light gold staters of Kroisos are relatively easy to come by, the fractions are much rarer, especially the sixths. This piece is in every way extraordinary - both well struck and very well preserved. The confronted lion and bull on this coin are age old eastern symbols of power, with the lion being the emblem of the Lydian royal family. The facing heads of Helios on the silver tetradrachms of Rhodes go through quite a stylistic progression over the slightly more than two centuries of their existence. The earlier heads of the late 5th and 4th centuries are fully in the Classical tradition and range from the noble, serene and, often, eerily powerful to insipid and banal. However, the tradition changes when tetradrachms resume in the later 3rd century. On those coins the Helios heads are truly Hellenistic in a very florid and baroque way, with some of the earliest, like this one, being most impressive. Ex Leu 81, 16 May 2001, 310, Bank Leu 7, 9 May 1973, 251 and from the collection of J. Desneux.The coinage of Lycia is characterized by the large number of eclectic designs found on it. The area’s general symbol, the tri- or tetraskeles, appeared on many reverses, but there were an infinite number of obverse types used. A good number were copied from or based on types used in other Greek cities - this one finds parallels in earlier issues from Syracuse! It is one of the prettiest female heads to be found in all of Lycian coinage, and certainly one of the best preserved. From the collection of H. S. von Aulock.It is remarkable how poorly struck so many staters of Aspendos are. Die wear, off-centering, countermarks, and poor engraving are all factors that mar most existing coins. Thus, coins like the present one are really quite uncommon, and help to explain why Hans von Aulock picked it from the many hundreds he was offered during his lifetime. The wrestlers refer to the local games; the slinger would remind the user that the Pamphylians were famous as slingers and were employed as mercenaries in many ancient armies. From the Spina collection, ex Triton VIII, 10 January 2005, 506.The word solecism, meaning a grammatical mistake or absurdity, was invented by the ancient Athenians to describe the Greek dialect spoken in Soloi, which they thought was a corrupt version of Attic. Perhaps the beautiful bunch of grapes on this coin gives us a hint as to why the people of Soloi made so many mistakes in speaking: Pliny records that much wine was produced in Cilicia and Soloi’s standard type of a bunch of grapes implies that some of it was certainly made here! The Amazons were a tribe of female warriors who supposedly originated in northern Asia Minor. They appear in a great number of Greek legends and were a favorite subject for ancient painting and sculpture (they supposedly removed their right breasts in order to be better able to throw javelins and draw their bows, but this is never shown in works of art and it seems prima facie unlikely). The engraver of this coin got out of the problem by showing the Amazon from behind, with only her left breast visible under her arm. Precisely why she appears on the coinage of Soloi is unknown and probably relates to a local myth. From the collection of R. Jameson.There has been a great deal of controversy over the identification of the Ariarathes who struck this coin, but MØrkholm simply must be correct in seeing it as an early issue of Ariarathes IX. He had been placed on the throne of Cappadocia by his father, the mighty Mithridates VI of Pontus who had previously assassinated his own nephew, Ariarathes VII, a son of Ariarathes VI (he also disposed of another son of Ariarathes VI, the unimaginatively named Ariarathes VIII). This early portrait shows the young king with rather idealized features that are somewhat reminiscent of those of earlier Cappadocian kings. However, soon after these early tetradrachms were issued, drachms and, later, tetradrachms were struck bearing a portrait that was much closer in features to that of Mithridates VI, thus making their relationship perfectly clear to all beholders. Ariarathes IX was killed while serving as a commander of his father’s troops in northern Greece. From the Spina collection, ex Leu 81, 16 May 2001, 323.Alexander the Great appears on this coin with some of the attributes of Dionysos, as part of a complex program of imagery that served to identify the conquests of Alexander in India with the god’s own legendary conquests there. The portrait also was meant to remind users of the coin that Seleukos had repeated Alexander’s conquests through his defeat of Chandragupta in 304.