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Research Coins: Printed Auction

 

Unique Thebes Gold Drachm

Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 158. Estimate $75000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 7 January 2008. 
Sold For $110000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BOEOTIA, Thebes. Circa 395 BC. AV Drachm (6.11 g, 1h). Bearded head of Dionysos left, wearing ivy wreath / The Herakliskos Drakonopnigon: The infant Herakles seated facing, strangling two serpents; QE to right, club above; all within incuse concave circle. Unpublished. Good VF, minor scrapes on obverse. Well centered strike. Unique.


Herakles was the son of Zeus and Alkmene. This union and the child it produced enraged Zeus’ wife, Hera, who tried to kill Herakles. Shortly after his birth, she sent two serpents one night to strangle the infant as he lay sleeping in his crib. The following morning, the nurse discovered Herakles playing with their lifeless bodies: during the night he had strangled one in each hand. This early example of his renowned strength earned him the name Herakliskos Drakonopnigon, or “the serpent-slaying infant Herakles.”

Before the appearance of the present piece, the precious metal issues were known only in electrum fractions (see, e.g., BCD 470 [EL hemidrachm] and A. Hess, 14 April 1954, lot 111 [EL trihemiobol]).