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Research Coins: Feature Auction


6th Known Gold Coin of Akarnanian League

Sale: Triton XII, Lot: 223. Estimate $25000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 5 January 2009. 
Sold For $28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

AKARNANIA, Federal Coinage (Akarnanian Confederacy). Circa 250 BC. AV 1/4 Stater (2.10 g, 4h). Leukas mint. Head of the river-god Acheloos right; И behind / Apollo, nude, seated left, holding bow in extended right hand; Λ in left field, [A]KAPNANΩN in right. BCD Akarnania 14 var. (control marks); SNG Copenhagen -; de Luynes 1916 var. (same). Near EF, underlying luster, a few light cleaning marks on reverse. One of only six known gold coins of the Akarnanian League; one of only four 1/4 staters, and unique with these control marks.

Founded in the fifth century BC, the Akarnanian Confederacy was composed from time to time of a varying number of the local towns. In 438 BC, the Confederacy allied itself with Athens, providing it with support during the Peloponnesian War, while at the same time expanding its own control in the region. During this period the Confederacy began to issue coinage, which, like the coins of many of the other Greek confederacies, were struck in the city-states of its leading members. The obverse of this federal coinage depicts the head of the river-god Acheloos, the eponymous patron of the river which formed the natural boundary between Akarnania and Aitolia. The reverse may depict Apollo Aktiakos, whose temple was located on the promontory overlooking the Gulf of Ambrakia and which may have served as the meeting place of the confederacy’s members.

During the fourth century BC, the Confederacy shifted its alliances between Sparta and Athens as they struggled to control Greece. By the latter part of the century, however, the Akarnanian Confederacy was allied with Macedon. In 314 BC, it sided with Kassander in the Diadoch Wars. Periodic border conflicts with the Aitolians resulted in the loss of Akarnanian border territories and, although an agreement was reached in 263/2 BC, by 250 BC, at about the same time this quarter stater was minted, the Akarnanian Confederacy was divided between the Aitolians and the Molossians in Epeiros. In 230 BC the Akarnanian Confederacy enjoyed a brief revival, but after the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC, information about it disappears from the historical record.