Greek coin collection realizes $6.5 million

Silver stater from Crete realizes $480,000
Published : 11/04/11
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What might be the finest of three known examples of a circa 330 to 270 B.C. silver stater from Gortyna, the island of Crete, realized £300,000 ($480,000 in U.S. funds) in an Oct. 24 auction.

The coin was the top lot in Morton & Eden’s London auction of what was billed as a Collection of Exceptional Ancient Greek Coins, which realized £4,071,156 ($6,518,842), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.

The coin depicts Europa with, unusually, Zeus in his two disguises on the obverse, both as an eagle and as a bull. A different, less powerful, die is known of the same type, which is combined with a more conventional bull on the reverse.

Cretan coins of the fourth and third centuries were overstruck on coins brought back to the island by mercenaries returning from abroad. Consequently they are normally found in indifferent state, with traces of the undertypes interfering with the local designs, which mostly represent Cretan mythology.

The coin in the auction was carefully struck on a planchet that atypically shows no evidence of overstriking (although the broadness of their planchets suggests otherwise). The auctioneer graded the coin as Extremely Fine.

The collection was created by a single owner across 50 years, with many of the rarities off the market since the 1960s and 1970s, according to specialist Tom Eden. The owner researched and recorded the provenance of each coin, many of which were until now previously unavailable to present-day collectors. “These factors added greatly to their desirability. The response from bidders both in the room and on the Internet, was extremely pleasing, while the results speak for themselves, recording a total of almost double our top estimate,” Eden said.

All prices reflect the buyers fee.

All of the lots can be viewed in a PDF version of the catalog posted for free viewing online at the firm’s website,, or catalogs may be ordered for £15.

The auction was conducted in association with Sotheby’s, in the Upper Grosvenor Gallery, Aeolian Hall, Bloomfield Place, New Bond Street.

For more information, email Morton & Eden at, visit its website or telephone the firm at (011) 44 20 7493 5344.

Some additional highlights:

Greece, Italy, Calabria, Tarentum, circa 510 to 500 B.C. silver stater, “one small edge mark at 6 o’clock, traces of overstriking, otherwise” About Extremely Fine, £114,000 ($182,400 U.S.).

Greece, Italy, Calabria, Tarentum, circa 380 to 340 B.C. silver didrachm, EF, £114,000 ($182,400 U.S.).

Greece, Italy, Lucania, Thurium, circa 400 to 350 B.C. silver stater, by the artist Molossos, “some minor marks on reverse, otherwise [EF] and well centred with the artist’s full signature perfectly preserved,” £102,000 ($163,200 U.S.).

Greece, Italy, Bruttium, Caulonia, circa 525 to 500 B.C. silver stater, “virtually As Struck, £26,400 ($42,240 U.S.).

Greece, Italy, Bruttium, Rhegium, circa 356 to 351 B.C. silver tetradrachm, “some minor marks on obverse, otherwise” Extremely Fine, £21,600 ($34,560 U.S.).

Greece, Sicily, Leontini, circa 465 B.C. silver tetradrachm, by the “Demareteion Master,” “traces of overstriking on obverse,” EF, £30,000 ($48,000 U.S.).

Greece, Sicily, Naxos, circa 460 B.C. silver tetradrachm, “attributed to the Aitna Master,” About EF, £84,000 ($134,400 U.S.).

Greece, Sicily, Segesta, circa 400 B.C. silver tetradrachm, EF, £24,000 ($38,400 U.S.).

Greece, Sicily, Syracuse, circa 465 B.C. silver tetradrachm, by the Demareteion Master, Very Fine, £108,000 ($172,800 U.S.).

Greece, Sicily, Syracuse, circa 400 B.C. silver decadrachm, unsigned work by Kimon, 43.23 grams, “traces of die rust on obverse but otherwise” EF, £228,000 ($364,800 U.S.).

Greece, Thraco-Macedonian Region, attributed to Siris, circa 500 B.C. silver stater, EF, £108,000 ($172,800 U.S.).

Greece, Attica, Athens, circa 510 B.C. silver tetradrachm, “a beautifully-centered example,” Good VF, £36,000 ($57,600 U.S.).

Greece, Crete, Knossos, circa 80 B.C. silver tetradrachm, “edge chip and with some light corrosion, otherwise” EF, £81,600 ($130,560 U.S.).

Greece, Mysia, Kyzikos, circa 500 to 480 B.C. electrum stater, EF, £144,000 ($230,400 U.S.).

Greece, Islands off Caria, Kos, circa 480 B.C. silver triple siglos, “extremely rare variety of a very rare coinage,” EF, £90,000 ($144,000 U.S.).

Greece, Islands off Caria, Rhodes, circa 404 to 385 B.C. silver tetradrachm, EF, £144,000 ($$230,400 U.S.).

Greece, Phoenicia, Tyre, circa 480 B.C. silver double shekel, EF, £168,000 ($268,800 U.S.). ■

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