A silver stater from Thessaly established a record price in Nomos
AG’s May 10 auction.
The circa 369 to 358 B.C. coin, issued under the despotic
Alexander of Pherai, realized 684,400 Swiss francs ($781,546 in U.S.
funds), including the 18 percent buyer’s fee.
The silver stater was part of the BCD Collection of coins from
Thessaly, a collection that was sold at the firm’s auction No. 4 (and
realized 3,926,775 Swiss francs, or $4,484,160 U.S., counting the
buyer’s fee). All 437 lots in auction No. 4 sold.
It was the marquee lot in the second of two May 10 auctions that
together realized 10,037,387 Swiss francs ($11,462,130 U.S.).
“The sale was enormously successful. I have never, ever, seen
prices even vaguely like those in this sale,” said Nomos Director Alan Walker.
The silver stater that highlighted the auction established a
record price for a coin from Thessaly, as well as a record price for a
coin from Pherai, according to Walker.
“It is probably a record price for a silver stater too. ... [T]his
sale is just jam packed with record prices,” Walker said.
Walker said the stater and the other coins in the BCD Collection
“were the best coins of their types that had ever been assembled. Thus
there were world record after world record for the coins it contained.”
The anonymous consignor, who has been selling other parts of his
collection over recent years with several different auction houses,
wrote in the catalog, “There isn’t much one can say about this
stunning coin, it speaks for itself.”
Walker, who called the coin “a truly magnificent work of art,”
said the winning bidder, who will not be named, was a collector on the floor.
“There were at least two very, very serious people who wanted it.
... We believe the coin will ultimately be placed in a museum
collection for display,” he said.
When it was auctioned by Giessener Münzhandlung April 3, 1989, the
silver stater of Thessaly realized a hammer price of 180,000 German
marks, then the equivalent of approximately 165,000 Swiss francs or
$106,325 U.S., Walker said.
The hammer price for the lot in the May 10 auction was 580,000
francs, or three times the hammer price of 22 years ago. It could have
brought an even higher bid.
“We believe that if the phone bidder had decided to go higher he
would still have been outbid by the person on the floor,” Walker said.
The 12.07-gram coin depicts Thessalian goddess Ennodia on the
obverse; an armored Alexander carries a lance while riding a horse on
the reverse of the coin.
The coin is lightly toned and in Extremely Fine condition.
Alexander of Pherai was one of the sons of the tyrant Jason, who
was murdered by conspirators in 370 and was succeeded by his brother
Polydoros, who was, in turn, murdered by another brother, Polyphron.
Alexander, the nephew of Polyphron, murdered him in 369, and
embarked on a rule of oppression and tyranny.
His rule was marked by many battles and cruelty toward his own
people; finally his wife, Thebe, who hated his cruelties, convinced
her brothers to kill Alexander.
Though the coin established a new record price, Walker pointed to
other results as more astonishing.
“There was nothing like the prices for silver fractions ever
before,” he said.
A silver hemidrachm of Alexander of Pherai, which BCD described as
“undoubtedly the best of the few known, a coin of magical appeal,”
realized a hammer price of 155,000 francs, 62 times the pre-auction
estimate. With buyer’s fee, it realized 182,900 francs ($208,861 U.S.).
For more details about the auction or the company, visit the
website, www.nomosag.com, email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to it
at Nomos AG, P.O.B. 2664, CH 8022 Zürich, Switzerland. ■