CNG’s Triton XVIII Sale Features Selections from the Sunrise Collection – The Numismatic Art of Persia

Collection offered in New York auction holds new research about coins of ancient region

Press release provided by Classical Numismatic Group:

LANCASTER, PA – Classical Numismatic Group of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and London, England is proud to present Triton XVIII, a Public, Internet, and Mail Bid Sale to be held in conjunction with the 43rd Annual New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) on January 6-7, 2015. The NYINC is held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, located at 301 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022, between 49th and 50th Streets. 

One of the featured collections highlighted in Triton XVIII is the Sunrise Collection. In 2011, Classical Numismatic Group published The Numismatic Art of Persia: The Sunrise Collection. Part I: Ancient – 650 BC to AD 650. The Sunrise Collection of the coinages of ancient Persia represents one of the finest private collections of this coinage ever compiled, covering all of the numismatically active cultures along the great Silk Road from Asia Minor to China and India. While the core of the collection comprises large sections of Parthian, Persis, and Sasanian coinage, it also included selections from the Achaemenids and the Hellenistic empires of Alexander the Great and Seleukos Nikator, whose issues were the first ever struck in Persia, as well as the smaller kingdoms of Charakene and Elymais. 

The collection also has modest, yet impressive, groups of coins from those cultures that existed on the periphery of Persia–the Kushan Empire, the Indo-Parthians, the Indo-Skythians, Khwarazmia, and the Iranian Huns. All of these cultures were influenced by, and, in turn, influenced, the indigenous Persian groups that were respectively contemporary with them. While coins of most of these series are readily available, the collective quality and rarity represented by the Sunrise Collection are unprecedented, save for those collections in the greatest public museums. For nearly a half-century, the collector focused on acquiring exceptional specimens for this collection, and his skill in choosing the pieces is self-evident.

CNG is honored to offer in Triton XVIII the first portion of this impressive collection, comprising the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Seleukid, Baktrian, and Kushan sections of the book. 

A few of the individual highlights from the Sunrise Collection featured in Triton XVIII are:

Lot 16–Ionian AR Tetradrachm Depicting a Possible Relief Map on the Reverse

IONIA, Achaemenid Period. Uncertain satrap. Circa 350-333 BC. AR Tetradrachm (22mm, 14.94 g). Persian king, wearing kidaris and kandys, in kneeling-running stance right, holding spear in right hand, bow in left / Incuse rectangle, containing pattern possibly depicting relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos. Johnston, Earliest 12 = BMC Ionia p. 324, 3 (same obv. die); Meadows, Administration 328 var. (legend on obv.); Mildenberg, Münzwesen, Group 6.2; Traité II 77–8 (Memnon of Rhodes); Jameson 1787; Pozzi 3138; Sunrise 70 (this coin). EF, toned, light cleaning marks on obverse.  Estimated at $20,000

From the Sunrise Collection. Ex Gorny & Mosch 125 (13 October 2003), lot 260.

Johnston has interpreted this remarkable reverse design as a relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos, which would make it the earliest Greek map and first physical relief map known. On the right (north) are the mountains Tmolos and Messogis between the river valleys of the Caÿster and Maeander, to the left of which are three mountain ridges (Madranbaba Dagi, Karincali Dagi, and Akaba Tepesi). Johnston follows Six in suggesting that the coins were probably struck under the Persian general Memnon at Ephesos, circa 336-334 BC, in order to pay his army after he had captured the city, but before his defeat by Alexander at the Battle of Granicus in 334. However, Johnston’s theory has been the subject of some doubt, most recently by Leo Mildenberg.


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