Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 138Auction date: 18 May 2023
Lot number: 180

Price realized: 80,000 CHF   (Approx. 88,368 USD / 82,050 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Tetradrachm circa 510, AR 17.12 g. Bull standing r., scratching nose with its hind hoof; bird standing r. on bull's back; below, E. Rev. Octopus, below, E; all in incuse square. SNG Lockett 1791 (this coin). SNG Spencer-Churchill 143 (these dies). Pozzi 1489 (this coin). Locker-Lampsos 208 (this coin). BCD Euboia 310 (these dies).
Very rare and in exceptional condition for this fascinating issue, undoubtedly among the
finest specimens in private hands. Lovely old cabinet tone and about extremely fine

Ex Naville 1, 1921, Pozzi, 1489 and Glendinig 17-28 February 1959, Lockett part IX, 1622 sales. From the Locker- Lampsos collection and a Distinguished Swiss Collection.
The city of Eretria is variously reported to have been founded on the island of Euboea by Elean or Athenian colonists before the time of the Trojan War. It faced the neighbouring city of Chalcis across the fertile Lelantine Plain. The desire of both cities to possess the plain led to violence in the late eighth century BC and the outbreak of the semi-legendary Lelantine War (c. 710-650 BC). This conflict was not limited to the two cities, but drew in forces from the islands of Tenos, Andros and Keos-all said to belong to an Eretrian naval empire-as well as from Miletus and Samos. Although the details of the war are extremely hazy, despite the overwhelming assistance afforded to Eretria, Chalcis appears to have been victorious in the war. The memory of Milesian involvement in the Lelantine War is said to have convinced the Eretrians to contribute five ships to the Athenian fleet assembled to aid Miletus at the outbreak of the Ionian Revolt against the Persians in 499 BC. Unfortunately, the revolt was crushed and in 490 BC, the Persian commanders Datis and Artaphernes arrived on Boeotia to inform the Eretrians of the Great King's displeasure. Eretria was besieged for six days by the Persians, but on the seventh day it fell through the betrayal of two of the leading citizens. The city was plundered, and its temples put to the torch as pay-back for the burning of the temples at Sardis by the Greek rebels. The punishment of Eretria was only deemed to be complete after the population was deported and ultimately resettled far from home in the environs of Susa. The city was later rebuilt by Eretrians who had escaped deportation, but the present tetradrachm probably predates the refounding. It may have been struck to support the Eretrian naval forces involved in the Ionian Revolt. The bull on the obverse alludes to the location of Eretria on the island of Euboea (literally "[land] of good cattle") and skillfully captures a moment observed in the natural world. Here the bull is not generically standing or preparing to charge, but instead he scratches his nose with his hind leg. The reverse type is a wonderfully stylised octopus to indicate that the Eretrians were not only a cattle-raising people of the plain, but also a people familiar with the sea and its creatures. This is also indicated by the name of Eretria, which means "City of Rowers."

Estimate: 40000 CHF