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Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers
Auction 130  27-28 Sep 2022
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Lot 1147

Starting price: 24 000 USD
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Cappadocian Kingdom. Orophernes, 158-157 BC. Silver Tetradrachm (16.06 g). Extremely rare, only 5 or 6 specimens are known. Boldly struck in high relief and considered one of the finest Hellenistic portraits on a Greek coin. Some scattered scratches not effecting the portrait, probably from an old cleaning. A major rarity with the high water mark being an example sold May 9, 2018 by NAC in EF for $219,102 USD. Priene. Diademed head of Orophernes right. Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ OPOΦEPNOY NIKHΦOPOY, Nike standing left, crowning royal name with wreath and holding palm branch; to inner left, owl standing three-quarters left on altar above monogram. Simonetta 1 (same obv. die); EHC 655 (same obv. die); Kraay-Hirmer pl. 209, 768 (same obv. die); H. Salvesen, "The tetradrachm of Orophernes," NomKhron 21 (2000), pp. 8-16. NGC grade XF; Strike: 4/5, Surface: 2/5. Scratches. Estimated Value $50,000 - UP
The brother of Ariarathes V of Cappadocia, Orophernes was encouraged by Demetrios I of Syria to seize power, which he accomplished. However, his reign endured but for only a short while before Ariarathes, with the support of Rome and the Pergamene Kingdom, regained the throne. Although the location of the mint responsible for striking Orophernes' coinage is not firmly established, it is thought to have been located at Priene. There are two pieces of evidence that strongly suggest this: first, Priene was where Orophernes kept his war chest; and second, five tetradrachms of Orophernes were found buried beneath the statue of Athena Polias at Priene. Interestingly, in 1915 the Greek poet Cavafy wrote his poem Orophernes after having held a tetradrachm of the ephemeral pretender of the Cappadocian throne.
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