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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Extremely Rare Bronze of Melsas – Second to Appear on the Market

CNG 88, Lot: 70. Estimate $200.
Sold for $360. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACO-MACEDONIAN TRIBES, Uncertain. Melsas. Mid 4th - mid 3rd century BC. Æ (17mm, 5.30 g, 2h). Facing bucranium, fillets hanging from horns / Fish left; MEΛΣA below; all within incuse circle. S. Topalov, “Unpublished bronze coins of the type ‘bull’s head with garland opposite MEΛΣA with fish left’,” Numismatic Bulletin 8 (Sofia, 1998); Kovacs FPL 29 (ND), no. 2 (Melta in Thrace). Near VF, black patina, pierced. Extremely rare, the second to appear on the market.

This is the second of these coins to ever appear for sale. In his list, Kovacs noted the attribution to the city of Melta in Thrace was suggested by Martin Price. This attribution, however, cannot be possible, as that city was not populated until Roman times, and the appearance of a fish as a principal type is very unlikely for a city deep inland, regardless of its location along the upper reaches of the Asamus (Osam) River. Topalov reviewed a quantity of these coins that were discovered in Bulgaria in the l990s, and determined that they were the product of an otherwise unknown Thracian chieftain named Melsas. Interestingly, Melsas is also the name of the founder of the Thracian city of Mesembria.