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Island off Thrace, Thasos, gold drachm, c. 380 BC,
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bearded head of Dionysos left, crowned with ivy, rev., ΘΑΣΙΟΝ, Herakles wearing lion-skin headdress and chiton, in attitude of kneeling to right, shooting with bow; in right field, Κ, 3.93g, die axis 3.00, virtually as struck, very rare. References: Hunt collection, part 3, Sotheby's, 4 December 1990, lot 33, same dies; Münzen und Medaillen 41, 1970, 49, same dies; Hess Leu 45, 1970, 107, same dies; West pl. 4, 30 var. (with Θ on reverse). Provenance: Gerald Hoberman Collection; DNW, London, 27 September 2011, lot 2005 (where catalogued with incorrect earlier provenances). Note: Although Herodotus's (2.44 and 6.47) suggestion that the Thasian gold mines were first worked by the Phoenicians had long been questioned, recent scholarship seems to support his account (Graham, p. 88). The reverse type of a kneeling archaic figure of Herakles as an archer, is "one of the very few instances in classical times when we can be quite sure that a coin design is taken from large-scale art." (Jenkins, 1972, p. 114). The sculpture which served as the model, now in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul (Mendel no. 518), was discovered in 1866 in the gate of the city's west wall; it was also adopted as the motif on amphora seals of Thasian wine. The "famous vineyards of Thasos" are reason enough to understand the head of Dionysos on the coin's obverse. (30000 - 40000 GBP)
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