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Reclassification of an early Athens coin to Aphrodite (with quite an immediate price effect!)


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With the caveat I an  inexpert, and was only  curiously watching, NAC recently listed this coin and sold it for 3k.

Greek Coins. Attica, Athens.
Hemidrachm or triobol between 506 and 490, AR 2.07 g. Head of Athena r., wearing crested Attic helmet. Rev. Α –Θ – E retrograde Head of Athena l.; below, leaves, within square incuse square. Svoronos pl. 7, 26-28. Seltman pl. XXII, cf. w/bb.
Very rare. Old cabinet tone and good very fine

Ex M&M 66, 1984, 93 and Leu 74, 1998, 186 sales. From the Harald Salvesen collection.


Kuenker turned around and relisted it and sold it today for 4  times as much with the view that it shows Aphrodite.

Listing slightly butchered through Google Translate but -

Copy from the Coins and Medals Auction AG 66, Basel 1984, No. 93; the Leu Numismatik 74 auction, Zurich 1998, No. 186 and the NAC 123 auction, Zurich 2021, No. 471. Oliver Hoover describes the head on the lapel as that of Athena Ergane.

We do not follow this identification. Although votive offerings to Athena Ergane can be found since the 6th century BC. prove; However, inscriptions naming Athena Ergane on the Acropolis were not found until the 4th century BC at the earliest. It was erected exclusively by private individuals. There is no evidence of an institutionalized cult of Athena Ergane. See Meyer, Marion, Athena, Goddess of Athens. Cult and myth on the Acropolis up to classical times, Vienna 2017, p. 30 f. We therefore consider Erika Simon's identification of the goddess with Aphrodite Pandemos to be far more likely, see Simon, Erika, Aphrodite Pandemos on Attic coins. For Dorothy B. Thompson, in: SNR 49 (1970), p. 5 ff.


It's strange  for NAC to miss that - if this is true - though I've seen a few cataloguing errors there recently. Time to check your early hemidrachms!


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