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Research Coins: Feature Auction


First Coinage of Pergamon

CNG 94, Lot: 461. Estimate $500.
Sold for $700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MYSIA, Pergamon. Mid 5th century BC. AR Diobol (11mm, 1.72 g, 10h). Laureate head of Apollo right; star(?) behind neck / Bearded head right, wearing Persian tiara, within incuse square. Von Fritze, Pergamon pl. I, 1; Mørkholm, Pergamene 1; SNG France 1546–8; SNG von Aulock 1347; Winzer 7.1 (Eurysthenes, satrap of Pergamon). Good VF, some porosity. From the first coinage of Pergamon. Rare.

The identification of the portrait on the reverse of this issue has been the subject of debate. The individualized features suggest it is the portrait of a person rather than the personification of a deity or mythical figure. Most recently, Winzer assigned this issue to Eurysthenes, but his attribution necessitates a downdating of the issue to circa 400 BC, which is unlikely, and also is based on a misinterpretation of Xenophon, Hellenica 3.1.6 (see Mørkholm, Pergamene, p. 182, note 1). The traditional dating of mid 5th century BC is probably correct, and the ruler of Pergamon during this time is uncertain. After the defeat of the Persians in the early fifth century, Gongylos of Eretria, who had served as an intermediary between the Spartans and Xerxes, was compelled to flee to Asia Minor, where he was granted the territory of Pergamon as a reward from the Great King. His descendants ruled over the city until at least 400 BC, so it is likely that the satrap depicted here is one of the Gongylid rulers.