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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Rare Issue in the Name of The Thracians

CNG 106, Lot: 91. Estimate $500.
Sold for $2100. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ISLANDS off THRACE, Thasos. Circa 80-70 BC. AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 16.59 g, 1h). Wreathed head of young Dionysos right / Herakles standing facing, head left, holding club, lion skin draped over left arm; monogram to inner left; ΗΡΑΚΛΕΟΥΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΘΡΑΚΩΝ around. MacDonald, Tetradrachms, Group 1, dies O1/R1, 1 = Prokopov, Silberprägung 977.3 corr. (V BBd1/R– [not rev. die 780, correct rev. die not noted] – this coin); HGC 6, –; CNG E-262, lot 10 (same dies). Good VF, toned, tiny die break on obverse. Rare.

From the Belgica Collection. Ex Peter Guber Collection (Manhattan Sale II, 4 January 2011), lot 35; Freeman & Sear FPL 10 (Spring 2005), lot 34; UBS 61 (12 September 2004), lot 4248; Leu 79 (31 October 2000), lot 105; Münzen und Medaillen AG FPL 269 (October 1966), no. 5.

Previously, this issue struck in the name of the Thracians was speculated to have been an issue struck at an uncertain mint in Thrace by Mithradates VI. However, Ilya Prokopov’s die study of the Thasos tetradrachms established obverse die links between these coins in the name of the Thracians (ΘΡΑΚΩΝ) and those in the name of the Thasians (ΘΑΣIΩΝ), allowing for the former issues to be placed within the regular coinage. Prokopov agrees that the coins are likely struck during the Mithradatic period, but while Thrace was under the authority of the Romans, who allowed the administrator of the Temple of Dionysos to strike and circulate this coinage. MacDonald’s further study confirmed Prokopov’s placement of these within the ΘΑΣIΩΝ series, and identified an overstrike that established their absolute chronology. He theorized that these issues were used by the Romans to pay their Thracian mercenaries or allies.