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    Description

    Gem MS Croesus Light Stater

    LYDIAN KINGDOM. Croesus and later (ca. 561-546 BC). AV stater (17mm, 8.07 gm). NGC Gem MS 5/5 - 5/5. "Light series." Sardes, ca. 553-539 BC. Confronted foreparts of lion (on left, facing right), with extended right foreleg, and bull (on right, facing left) / Double incuse square punches of unequal size. Carradice 8. BMFA 2073. SNG von Aulock 2875. Wonderful deep strike and full, blazing mint luster, ranking among the finest extant examples extant of this seminal coinage.

    Croesus is one of the most famous kings of antiquity, although we know few concrete facts about him. Lydia was already the dominant power in Asia Minor before Croesus (often rendered as Kroisos) attained the kingdom's throne in about 561 BC as the son of Alyattes, who had reigned for the previous half-century. The most important reform attributed to him was the introduction of a bimetallic coinage in gold and silver, first augmenting and then replacing the previous electrum issues. The design chosen by Croesus, the confronting foreparts of a lion and bull, are thought by Harlan J. Berk to be symbolic of "strength and power" (lion) and "fertility" (bull). The lion had previously been used by Alyattes (see lots 2033-2034), and so an alternative theory might be that this is a dynastic type, with the lion representing Alyattes and the bull representing his son and successor. The creation of separate gold and silver denominations ranging from a full stater down to 1/96th of a stater was a visionary move that had a major impact on the ancient economy. Perhaps because of his association with gold and silver, Croesus became legendary for his wealth, and there are several almost mythical accounts of his interactions with another quasi-legendary Greek, the sage Solon, in which they discuss whether wealth and possessions can truly buy happiness. The most famous ancient account of Croesus occurred at the end of his reign, when he questioned the Delphic Oracle as to whether he should make war on the rising Persian kingdom; the oracle answered, with typical ambiguity, that if he attacked the Persians he would destroy a great empire. In the event he did move to confront the Persian King Cyrus, and, after an inconclusive battle, was besieged and captured at his capital city of Sardes in 546 BC, thus destroying his own "great empire." His eventual fate is uncertain; some accounts suggest he continued as an advisor to Cyrus after the Persians absorbed Lydia, but more likely he was executed. His revolutionary coinage was adopted, in simplified form, by the Persians, who retained the lion-bull motif for a few decades before replacing it with their own unique design. 




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    8th-9th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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