IONIA, Phokaia

EL hekte, 11 mm, 2.5 gm
c. 478-387 BCE
Obv:  head of young male left, wearing Silenos mask on top of head; to right, small seal downward
Rev:  quadripartite incuse square.
Ref:  Bodenstedt Em. 70; SNG von Aulock –; Boston MFA –; BMC 43#4.

I enjoy occasionally buying one of the finest known examples of a rare coin.

This is not such an occasion.

While the coin is rare, with only three known to Bodenstedt and perhaps eight examples currently known*, this is the worst example I've seen. However, the condition is not dreadful and it cost 90% less that the most recently sold example. The condition of my hekte is not 90% worse, so I'm happy to have this interesting little thing.

 

I have a soft spot for Silenos (genial drunk and foster-father of Dionysos) since my first "big" coin purchase had a control mark of Silenos, who looks remarkably like drunk Nick Nolte on that particular coin.

 

I wonder if the engraver intended this as a type of optical illusion. I had my eye on another type of illusion coin this month but didn't even get a bid in. That dream coin was estimated very low (1000 EUR) and hammered at 12x estimate, manyfold higher than I wanted to pay. It exceeded my max before it even hit the block. (here's that coin)

 

* Although currently considered rare, with the abundance of electrum coins hitting the market I wonder if it will still be considered rare five years from now. In addition to mine, I've found three in archives and one coming up for auction in April. One recent auction listing indicated that a total of five were noted in various archives, plus the three Bodenstedt examples.