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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton IX, Lot: 182. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 January 2006. 
Sold For $900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BOIOTIA, Mykalessos. Circa 400-350 BC? Lot of two AR Tetartemoria. Both coins: Boiotian shield / M (sideways with the tops of the letter pointing inwards), grape bunch. Varieties: (a) 0.21 g. On reverse, M in left field. Zschiesche & Köder (Leipzig) FPL 50 (October 1892), no. 5466. Extremely rare, probably unique as the above reference gives an incomplete and inaccurate description of a coin which in fact is like (b) (see note below) // (b) 0.17 g. Shield of elongated shape / M in right field, grape bunch of elongated shape; to left, ivy leaf downward. Head, Boeotia p. 47 = Imhoof-Blumer, Münzkunde, 66, pl. X, 13; O. Helbing 9 April 1913, lot 397. Extremely rare, perhaps the third known. Both coins VF. Two (2) coins in lot. ($300)

The text description in the above Zschiesche & Köder list (there is no photograph) is incomplete and therefore misleading. The reverse is only described as "Bunch of Grapes and M". The reference is Head, HN p. 293 (which corresponds to p. 346 of the second edition). Head on the other hand, when describing the known reverses of the Mykalessos fractions, did not change his entry from one edition of the Historia Nummorum to the other: "M Grapes or Kantharos AR 1/2 Obol, etc.". The "etc." obviously refers to the last two entries on p. 47 of Head, Boeotia, i.e. fractions smaller than hemiobol. However, the British Museum specimen (for some reason now in the Thespiai trays), which this writer has personally examined, is similar to coin (b) above, which is different to and probably later in date than coin (a). Imhoof-Blumer has an accurate line drawing of his coin (see ref. above) and this also places it in the same group as our coin (b). What probably happened is that Zschiesche & Köder had a coin like (b) but described it cursorily and incompletely; then referred to Head's Historia Nummorum, the only reference they could find. Twenty years later, that coin(?) surfaced in the Helbing sale (see ref. above) and turned out to be the same type as our coin (b), probably also from the same reverse die (except for the fact that our coin has a die break developing on the grapes). It is also worth mentioning here that Imhoof-Blumer initially attributed his (b) type coin which he published in 1871 (see ref. above), to Skolos, or possibly Schoinos. These ancient sites are approximately 10 kilometers to the south-south east and north of Thebes, respectively. Later, though, on p. 22 of his article, Imhoof-Blumer retracted these attributions in favour of Mykalessos.