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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 64, Lot: 132. Estimate $1000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 24 September 2003. 
Sold For $2500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACE, Black Sea Area. Pantikapaion. Circa late 4th Century BC. AR Drachm (3.46 gm). Wreathed and bearded head of Pan facing slightly left / Bull's head left. SNG BM Black Sea 880; SNG Stancomb 548; Anohin 121; SNG Copenhagen 21. Toned, nice VF, even light porosity. Great style. Rare. ($1000)

Pantikapaion was founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the late 7th century BC. Situated on the west side of the Cimmerian Bosporus, in what is now the Crimea, it achieved great prosperity through its exploitation of the abundant fisheries of the Straits and the export of wheat from the Crimea. This wealth is attested by its splendid gold coinage commencing in the mid-4th century and by the magnificently furnished rock tombs of its principal citizens in the 4th and 3rd centuries. Later, it was to become a regional capital of the kingdom of Mithradates VI of Pontus (120-63 BC) and later still the seat of the kings of Bosporus (1st cent. BC — 4th cent. AD).

The coinage of Pantikapaion seems to have commenced with silver issues in the latter part of the 5th century, but it is for its beautiful gold staters that the mint is chiefly noted. Gold was obtained in great quantities from the Altai and Ural mountains, much of which found its way to western Asia Minor where it was coined by the Lampsakos mint. The earliest gold staters of Pantikapaion were issued in the mid-4th century and are of the purest Greek style, the dies probably being the work of a Lampsakene artist. They depict a three-quarter facing head of the god Pan (a pun on the name of the city) and on the reverse the griffin which Herodotos describes as being the guardian of the remote sources of gold. This lovely example has a profile image of the god and dates to the second half of the 4th century.