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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Mithradates’ Last Known Stater – Third Mithradatic War Issue

CNG 96, Lot: 372. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $30000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PONTOS. Mithradates VI Eupator. Circa 120-63 BC. AV Stater (21mm, 8.38 g, 12h). Pergamon mint. Dated month 13, year 223 BE (September/October 74 BC). Diademed head right / Stag grazing left; BAΣIΛEΩΣ above, MIΘPAΔATOY/EYΠATOPOΣ in two lines below; to left, star-in-crescent above ΓKΣ (year); two monograms to right, IΓ (month) in exergue; all within Dionysiac wreath of ivy and fruit. Roma VII, lot 758 (same dies); CNG 93, lot 339 var. (same obv. die, month 12), otherwise unpublished. VF, scattered light marks and abrasions. Well centered on a broad flan with a fine style portrait. Extremely rare, one of two known latest staters from his reign.

This coin, and the die-identical Roma piece, were struck from the same obverse die as CNG 93, lot 339, which is dated to month 12 of 223 BC. The reuse of the die suggests both issues were relatively small, and were struck over ten years after the main series of staters ended in 213 BE (85 BC). The extraordinary circumstances of this revival of Mithradates’ staters can almost certainly be explained by the historical events that were occurring simultaneously with these issues. In 74 BC, Nikomedes IV of Bithynia died, and bequeathed his kingdom to Rome, which quickly approved the establishment of a new Roman province of Bithynia. Mithradates, of course, had desired the kingdom and bristled at the thought of having his enemy, Rome, form a new province on his border. This event led to the Third Mithradatic War, and it is likely that these staters were struck during the preparations for Mithradates’ opening moves in the conflict.