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    Extremely Rare Enigmatic Cyzicene Portrait Stater

    MYSIA. Cyzicus. Early-mid 4th century BC. EL stater (21mm, 16.10 gm). NGC AU 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style, flan flaw. Laureate, bearded male head left (likely Timotheos) with bald forehead, tunny left below / Quadripartite incuse mill-sail pattern with rough interior surfaces. Von Fritze I 199. cf. Greenwell 81 (head right). SNG France -. Very rare and historically interesting. Sharply struck from obverse die with extremely high relief realistic portrait.

    The portrait on this issue has been a subject of debate for centuries. "The Electrum Coinage of Cyzicus", written by William Greenwell in 1887, describes the obverse as "bald, bearded and laureate head" and described this enigmatic issue as "a most remarkable coin, and one which presents grave difficulties in its explanation. On account of the time at which it must have been struck, it is perhaps impossible, not withstanding the exceptional scope of the Cyzicene representations, to consider it as intended to portray any individual personage of however exalted a position. At the same time it must be remembered that there is, upon a coin attributed to Colophon, as well as on others, a head which can scarcely be regarded as other than a portrait, though Professor Gardner (Types of Greek Coins, p. 144) believes it to be the idealized head of a Persian king. But whoever the artist of the Cyzicene stater meant to represent, there can be little doubt he modelled the portrait from the life." Eleven years later, J.P. Six (NC 1898, pp. 197-198) was the first to suggest that the bearded male portrait is that of the Athenian general Timotheos (d. 354 BC), who had raised the siege of Cyzicus in 363 BC (Diod. Sic. 15.81.6), based on a similarity between the coins and a marble portrait in the Capitoline Museum (no. 46). Subsequent numismatists refuted that conclusion and proposed others, however Mildenberg in "The Cyzicenes: A Reappraisal," AJN 5-6 [1993-1994], pp. 9-11, defended Six's hypothesis. Cyzicus was under Persian control from 540 BC until 445 BC, and then from 387 BC until the end of the Achaemenid Empire. During the interim period, Cyzicus was allied with Athens as a member of the Delian League. Normally League members were not allowed to coin their own electrum staters, however Cyzicus was exempted because it benefitted Athens as their coins were internationally accepted. As such, when the general Timotheos and his forces from Athens successfully raised the Persian siege of Cyzicus in 363 BC, the citizens may have opted to place his portrait on this issue of staters to show their appreciation and honor him in a way already familiar to Athenians.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,017

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