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    Rare Mende Variety

    MACEDON. Mende. Ca. 460-423 BC. AR tetradrachm (27mm, 16.71 gm, 3h). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 3/5. Dionysus, bearded and nude save for mantle draped around loins, a tiny swastika on his drapery between his knees, reclining left on the back of an ass walking right, holding high-handled cantharus in right hand, bird (a crow?) standing right on ivy tendril before ass  / MEN-ΔA-I-ON around square border of central linear square enclosing vine with four grape clusters, all within shallow incuse square. S. P. Noe, "The Mende (Kaliandra) Hoard", NNM 27, 1926, 36. SNG ANS 329 (same dies). A very rare variety, particularly with crow and swastika on mantle! Somewhat granular surfaces, otherwise a very attractive specimen, well centered and struck in high relief on a broad flan, with lovely old collection toning.

    From the Northern California Collection. Acquired from Frank Kovacs, 1997.

    The evocative coinage of Mende illustrates some long-forgotten myth regarding Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry. Mende was famous as a center of wine production, as evidenced by numerous amphorae bearing the city's stamp found throughout the Hellenic world. Dionysus was the patron god of the city. Although Dionysus is usually depicted in procession riding in a chariot pulled by panthers, on coins of Mende he is shown with a more humble form of transportation, reclining languidly on the back on an ass, clutching a high-handled wine cup and appearing pleasantly inebriated. Some rare varieties, including this example, also show a bird, likely a crow, in company of the god and ass; the meaning of this is unclear, and it might simply reflect the keen Greek observation of nature. The tiny swastika on the mantle of Dionysus might be the signature of this particular die engraver. 

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    7th-8th Sunday-Monday
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