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Karia, Halikarnassos AR Tetradrachm. Circa 400-387 BC. Head of Apollo facing slightly right / AΛIKAPNAΣΣEΩN, eagle standing to right, with wings spread, star to right; all within shallow incuse square. Cf. S. Hurter, ‘42 Tetradrachmen von Klazomenai’, SNR 45, 1966, p. 45, pl. VI, F = Lorber, Amphipolis, the Civic Coinage in Silver and Gold, 1990, pl. IV, fig 21; cf. The New York Sale XXVII, 533. 15.76g, 21mm, 1h.

Extremely Fine. Of the highest rarity; one of only three known tetradrachms of Halikarnassos.

A single example of this important tetradrachm type was published in 1966 by S. Hurter (‘42 Tetradrachmen von Klazomenai’, SNR 45, 1966, p. 45, pl. VI, F) which for over half a century remained the only known example to have survived. A second specimen was recently published in Triton XX which though clearly from the same issue, bore a different control mark (sunburst, not bow). The present example, which is of the same dies as the Triton coin, therefore brings the total number of surviving tetradrachms to three. Numismatists have been aware of the coinage series as a whole for quite some time; approximately 34 drachms are known to exist, along with 3 hemidrachms (see the preceding lot), yet it is remarkable that so few of the larger denomination survived.

Originally thought to have been struck after the satrap Maussolos moved the capital of the satrapy of Karia from the Hekatomnid ancestral seat of Mylasa to Halikarnassos, the dating of the Hecatomnus hoard disproves this notion. This coinage therefore most likely represents a civil issue of Halikarnassos struck prior to the King’s Peace of 387 BC, when virtually all civil coinages of the Greek states in Asia Minor ceased. Certainly, despite the city having been firmly aligned with Persia in the days of Artemisia in the early fifth century, her grandson Lygdamis II brought the city into the Delian League and the city was, for an uncertain period of time, independent of Persian rule. It is tempting therefore to view this type as a product of the turbulent early years of the fourth century, when the Athenian general Thrasyboulos, in response to renewed conflict with Sparta, began re-establishing Athenian alliances with the cities in Asia Minor that had previously been allies. If this issue, evidently intended to be a reasonably substantial one considering that at least two die pairs existed, was begun in circa 389-387 and cut short by the reassertion of Persian influence in 387, this would explain the relative rarity of this series today.

That the obverse of this coinage was heavily influenced by the Rhodian facing-head coinage that had been recently introduced is clear. That it was retained by the Hekatomnid satraps as the obverse type of their coinage once the move from Mylasa to Halikarnassos was complete is also evident, but more difficult to explain. Relegating his father’s obverse of Zeus Labraundos to the reverse while doing away entirely with the lion motif may have been nothing more than political expedient aimed at cultivating goodwill, but perhaps it may also reflect the distinct thread of philhellenism that ran through the Hekatomnid family.

Karia, Halikarnassos AR Tetradrachm (rxiii328)

Price: £19,648.00

  • US$25,086.57
  • EUR€22,223.85
  • AUD$33,044.01
  • CHF24,176.86
  • CAD$33,130.46
  • (Rates for 27/06/2017)


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