Ionia, Teos (?)
Tetradrachm, artist of Dionysus, II century BC, AR 16.86 g. Head of Dionysus r., wearing mitre and ivy-wreath. Rev. ΤΩΝ ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΝ / ΔΙΟΝΥΣΙΟΝ / ΤΕΧΝΙΤΩΝ Filleted thyrsus; all within ivy-wreath. Lorber-Hoover, NC 163, pp. 59-68, pl. 15, 1-2 (this coin illustrated).
Apparently unique and an issue of tremendous importance and fascination. A portrait
of enchanting beauty in the finest Hellenistic style, the work of a skilled master
engraver, struck on a very large flan. Unobtrusive traces of overstriking
on reverse field, otherwise extremely fine
Ex Gemini IV, 2008, 177 and Manhattan II, 2011, Peter Guber, 62 sales.
Modern times have shown that it is very much possible for entertainers and actors to rise to the supreme political offices in the land, however this unique and historically important tetradrachm shows that in the Hellenistic period dramatists could actually organize themselves after the manner of a microstate with its own coinage. Although dramatic festivals were an old facet of Greek religion and culture, going back at least to the sixth century BC, by the Hellenistic Period individual and small groups of actors and playwrights—the technitai, or artists of Dionysos--had become organized into large guilds. These hired out their professional personnel for major festivals hosted by cities and kings. Three major independent guild organizations are known for the artists of Dionysos. Two served the needs of mainland Greece and were located in Athens and the Peloponnesos, respectively. The third served western Asia Minor as well. This organization was known as the Association of the Artists Dionysos of the Hellespont and Ionia and maintained its base in Teos after 207 BC, when it received a tax-free land grant from the city. In 188 BC, Teos passed under the influence of the Attalid kingdom of Pergamon as did the Artists of Dionysos of the Hellespont and Ionia. The Teian-based independent guild was merged with the royal Attalid Association of the Artists of Dionysos Kathegemon and became the somewhat unimaginatively named, Association of the Artists of Dionysos of the Hellespont and Ionia and of Dionysos Kathegemon. The distinctive wreath border used on the reverse of this coin connects it to other wreathed reverse tetradrachms struck by cities like Cyme, Myrina, Heraclea, Lebedus, Magnesia on the Meander, and Smyrna in the mid-second century BC and makes it clear that the merged organization was responsible for the tetradrachm. Like the other wreathed-reverse tetradrachms of western Asia Minor as well as a variety of rare festival coinages of the same period, they may have served as contributions towards Attalid financing of the Seleukid pretender Alexander I Balas (150-145 BC). Although the coin includes no control marks or other symbols to identify the mint of issue, it is attributed to the mint of Teos based on the presence of the Association of the Artists of Dionysos of the Hellespont and Ionia and of Dionysos Kathegemon in that city. Further support for the mint attribution seems to be provided by a new Teian civic tetradrachm (Roma XVII, lot 141) featuring a similar image of Dionysos, although the present coin of the Dionysiac Artists lacks the trailing lock of hair down the neck and the waving mitra-ends of the new Teian piece.
|Price realized||140'000 CHF|
|Starting price||80'000 CHF|