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    Description

    Unique Halicarnassus Tetradrachm

    CARIA. Halicarnassus. Ca. 400-387 BC. AR tetradrachm (23mm, 15.04 gm, 12h). NGC Choice AU 4/5 - 3/5. Laureate head of Apollo facing slightly right, hair parted in the middle and rendered in a thick mass of curls to either side, partially covering wreath  / AΛIK[APN]AΣ, eagle standing three-quarters to right, wings spread, clutching serpent in talons whose head extends to right, all within incuse square. BMC --. SNG Keckman --. SNG Kayhan --. SNG Von Aulock --. Cf. S. Hurter, '42 Tetradrachmen von Klazomenai,' SNR 45, 1966, p. 45, pl. VI = Leu 20 (1978), lot 131 = N. B. Hunt Collection (Sotheby's 4 December 1990) lot 37 = Prospero Collection (New York Sale XXVII, 4 January 2012), lot 533 (bow symbol). Cf. Triton XX lot 33, ROMA XIII lot 328, and Gemini XIII lot 80 (sunburst symbol). An apparently unique variety of an extremely rare type and one of only five tetradrachms known to date. Minor areas of porosity, otherwise a majestic piece, deeply struck and lightly toned, with a superb facing head of Apollo and a magnificent eagle.

    Halicarnassus was an important and wealthy metropolis in coastal Caria that became well known for one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the tomb (or Mausoleum) of Maussolus, satrap of Caria circa 377-353 BC. The civic coinage of Halicarnassus, to which this remarkable tetradrachm belongs, can confidently be dated to a brief period of independence from Persian rule by the Greek city-states of Western Asia Minor, circa 400-387 BC. The obverse reflects the status of Apollo as patron god to Halicarnassus and indeed all of Caria; the remarkable three-quarter facing portraiture is likely influenced by the nearly contemporaneous facing heads on the coins of Rhodes and distant Syracuse. Of the five known civic tetradrachms known to date, three different control marks are represented on the reverse -- a bow on the Hurter/Leu/Hunt/Prospero specimen, a sunburst on the examples offered in the recent Triton, ROMA and Gemini auctions, and a serpent clutched in the eagle's claws on this unique example. The profusion of symbols on so rare a coinage indicates a significant issue that was, for some reason, never put into circulation or deliberately suppressed, perhaps when the Persians reestablished control over the coastal Greek cities with the "Great King's Peace" of 387 BC. 




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
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