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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 81, Lot: 263. Estimate $200. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 20 May 2009. 
Sold For $325. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACO-MACEDONIAN REGION, Uncertain. Circa 480-460 BC. AR Obol (0.83 g). Male goat kneeling right on groundline / Quadripartite incuse square. HPM pl III, 22 var. (incuse); SNG ANS (Macedonia) 66 (Aigai); Sheedy Non-Parian group 3. VF, lightly toned, minor porosity.

J. Svoronos, in HPM (pp. 34-5), set forth an argument for not assigning certain goat-type coins to Aigai in Macedon, based on the gender of the goat depicted. The canting type of goat is a play on the Greek word for goat (αίξ, pl. αίγες), and is used for mint cities whose ethnic began with the syllable aig. Svoronos argued that αίξ must refer to a female goat, as a male goat would be called τράγος. The foundation myths of Aigai in Justin also use the Latin form for a she-goat, capra. Thus, any depiction of a male goat would rule-out attributing such a coin to Aigai. This argument has been largely ignored, or unnoticed, as many still attribute all goat issues of the Macedonian region to Aigai. More recently, however, O. Picard (in "Les monnaies au bouc attribuées à Aigai" in BSFN 50/6 [1995]) and C. Lorber (in Lorber, Goats), have revived Svoronos' theory and convincingly argue in its favor. As this coin clearly shows a male goat, its attribution cannot be to Aigai. Similarly, as the goat is not looking backward, it does not fit into the group Lorber has now attributed to the Krestones/Migdones. One other possibility is that this may be an issue of Paros, but Sheedy conclusively shows that no small fractions were struck in Paros during the archaic period. As these coins typically show up in hoards of Macedonian coinage (see, e.g., Sheedy p 112), they likely belong to an uncertain tribe in the region.