Starting Price: 40000 USD
Uncertain Mint in Northwest Asia Minor, Electrum Stater (16.56 g), ca. 600-560 BC. Chimaera, with the body of a lion, the head of a goat rising from its back, and its tail ending in the head of a serpent, moving left. rev. Two irregularly divided incuse squares side-by-side, one larger than the other (BMC 41, pl. II, 2 = B.V. Head, 'Metrological Notees on the Ancient Alectrum Coins struck between the Lelantian Wars and the Accession of Darius', NC 1875, pp. 285-8, pl. X, 9 = Head, A Guide to the Principal Coins of the Greeks, Period I. A, 18, pl. 1). Several cracks at the edge of the flan, a little evidence of die-rust and a small die-flaw above the chimarea, attractive red toning. A highly important coin of great numismatic fascination. Of the greatest rarity, apparently the second known example, the other residing in the British 162
Museum and this being the better preserved of the two. Very Fine. Estimated Value $50,000
Ex: The New York Sale Auction XXX, January 9, 2013, lot 142.
Although the precise location of mintage of this fascinating coin is uncertain, it seems that it almost certainly originates from Northwest Asia Minor. It has been struck on the Phokaian standard, which was prevalent in that region in the early 6th Century BC, encompassing the districts of Teos, Sardes and Kyzikos. As the chimarea appears on the obverse, early suggestions were made by scholars that it might have originated from Corinth or Sikyon. However, this is extremely unlikely since the style, fabric, and reverse all point to an Asia Minor attribution.
The mythical chimaera, a fire-breathing, monstrous creature with the combinted parts of a lion, goat and serpent, originated in Lycia, and from there spread across to mainland Greece where it can be seen to manifest itself particularly on the coinage of Sikyon in the Peloponnese. It is unlikely that this points to the coin having a Lycian origin, because the Phokaian standard, on which this was struck, would not have been used there. The city of Zeleia, which belonged to the territory of Kyizikos, has been suggested as a possible attribution, as it is reported to have had a Lycian population which could help to explain the choice of obverse type. Although the Zeleia attribution is a strong possibility, there is of course no firm evidence to confirm it, so it is perhaps better to suggest a northwest Asia Minor origin.