When the Temple of Apollo was destroyed by an earthquake in 373 B.C.,
almost immediately the members of the Amphictyonic League began
collecting contributions to rebuild it.
It took until the 330s B.C. before enough precious metal donations
were received, at which time the League took the donations and struck
them into coins to pay for the rebuilding.
Three rarities are identified among the smallest
Also in our Nov. 13 issue, columnists dissect a few poor attempts
at counterfeiting American rarities and explain an obsession to
search for surprise coins.
A silver stater that was from this fund was offered in Nomos Ag’s
Oct. 22 auction, where it hammered for 51,000 Swiss francs ($51,811
U.S.), against an estimate of 55,000 Swiss francs. The final price
includes a buyer’s fee of 20 or 22.5 percent, depending on bidding method.
The circa 336 to 334 B.C. silver stater from Delphi in Phokis
depicts on the obverse the veiled head of Demeter (Greek goddess of
grain) facing left, wearing a wreath of grain leaves.
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The reverse shows Apollo seated left on the omphalos, resting his
chin on his right hand, with his right elbow propped on a large lyre
at his side; in his left hand he holds a laurel branch.
Some research suggests that fewer than 30 examples of this coin
exist, meaning a ratio of one in about 10,000 of the pieces originally
struck still survives, according to Nomos.
“As with so many Greek coins, the beauty of this coin’s design, with
its lovely head of Demeter and its figure of a pensive Apollo sitting
on the omphalos that marked the center of the world, shows how the
Greeks believed that the money they minted had to be both useful and
attractive to the eye,” the firm said.
The coin weighs 12.25 grams and measures 24 millimeters in diameter,
about the same width and twice the weight of a Washington quarter dollar.