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Philip II tetradrachm - Greek or Celtic?


Kaleun96
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I picked up a lovely Philip II tetradrachm the other week at Naumann and while it was attributed to being a Celtic imitation by Nauman, I personally have my doubts. The style is quite good and different to the style of the better Celtic imitations, in my opinion. Some of the Celtic tetradrachms have great style but it is a different style in how the Zeus and horse are rendered.

I think at "worst"  it must be an early Celtic imitation with dies engraved by someone who clearly was familiar with the style of the Philip II tets and had the ability to copy that style very closely. I think there's still a decent chance it's an official issue, however. The trouble is there doesn't appear to be a control symbol on the reverse so it's very hard to compare it against any official issues that might be similar in the more minute details.

It's possibly one of the types with a spearhead in the exergue, though I think I can see the signs of a dotted border below the exergue and that wouldn't leave much room for a spearhead.

http://numismatics.org/pella/id/pella.philip_ii.35

http://numismatics.org/pella/id/pella.philip_ii.37

I've been through hundreds of both official and imitative examples on ACSearch but haven't really come close to a good style match for the obverse, let alone die match. Some of the "tells" I've been using are the two curly locks of hair below Zeus' ear and the horizontal curls of the bottom half of the beard. It's possible I've missed some close matches due to the wear on my example making the locks of hair appear thicker than they may really be without the wear.

1175_philip_ii_tetradrachm_resized.png

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If I were to guess, I'd say the lack of control symbols may be the cause for it being labeled an imitation, though as you know they usually copied those too. That being said, I'm not familiar enough with this release to know of Philip tets without controls are known in official releases.

Are the weight and size within the official standard? My imitation is 13.16g - a bit below the standard.

331A8609-Edit.jpg.9ad5f3ac1aadd7a4a076ea6b844e43b3.jpg

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10 hours ago, Kaleun96 said:

I picked up a lovely Philip II tetradrachm the other week at Naumann and while it was attributed to being a Celtic imitation by Nauman, I personally have my doubts. The style is quite good and different to the style of the better Celtic imitations, in my opinion. Some of the Celtic tetradrachms have great style but it is a different style in how the Zeus and horse are rendered.

I think at "worst"  it must be an early Celtic imitation with dies engraved by someone who clearly was familiar with the style of the Philip II tets and had the ability to copy that style very closely. I think there's still a decent chance it's an official issue, however. The trouble is there doesn't appear to be a control symbol on the reverse so it's very hard to compare it against any official issues that might be similar in the more minute details.

It's possibly one of the types with a spearhead in the exergue, though I think I can see the signs of a dotted border below the exergue and that wouldn't leave much room for a spearhead.

http://numismatics.org/pella/id/pella.philip_ii.35

http://numismatics.org/pella/id/pella.philip_ii.37

I've been through hundreds of both official and imitative examples on ACSearch but haven't really come close to a good style match for the obverse, let alone die match. Some of the "tells" I've been using are the two curly locks of hair below Zeus' ear and the horizontal curls of the bottom half of the beard. It's possible I've missed some close matches due to the wear on my example making the locks of hair appear thicker than they may really be without the wear.

1175_philip_ii_tetradrachm_resized.png

Your coin looks too good to be a Celtic copy 😉. I sold the Celtic Tet pictured below about 5 years ago. Notice the well engraved but fanciful control marks on the reverse.

427460639_2491169-002ExAWKCollection.jpg.4b5f5f09fbe5a09da64cca1e2123f08c.jpg

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Edit: Nice coin by the way! 🙂

That is odd. I looked up the listing (this coin has actually been listed before at Naumann 115, I assume you got it at Naumann 119). The reported weight (14.26g) is fine, so it's not a fourree or Celtic standard.

Next place to look is the reference: "cf. Lanz 352-356."

That reference is Kostial's book on the Hermann Lanz (1910-1998) Collection prepared for an exhibition at the SMB - Munzkabinett Berlin, in association with the International Numismatic Congress 1997 (and the 2nd edition, with a 2003 exhibit in Munich). The INC-SMB exhibit was right before he died, so I imagine it was some way to honor him. In any case, that's now the standard reference for Celtic coins (or at least one of 2-3 standard refs):

  • M. Kostial, Kelten im Osten - Gold und Silber der Kelten in Mittel- und Osteuropa - Sammlung Lanz (Staatlichen Münzsammlung München, 1997[ 2003, 2nd ed.]), N. 422.

  • 3486296.m.jpg

The collection was sold by Roma Numismatics c. 2019 so you can find the images on ACSearch:

You can probably judge for yourself whether yours really belongs with this group. (I'm befuddled by their attribution.)

Here's Lanz 352:

6333355.m.jpg

Lanz 353:

5804786.m.jpg

354:

6167517.m.jpg

355:

5983397.m.jpg

356:

6193676.m.jpg

 

By way, incidentally, here's my example from the Hermann Lanz Collection, a 3.35g Baumreiter Drachm ["branch rider" type] ( Lanz 422 = this coin). Clearly yours and mine are from the same series! 😂

6333375.m.jpg

Edited by Curtis JJ
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As @kirispupis noted, the lack of control symbols may be why they called it Celtic. It seems to be very unusual, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to say how much so.

I found another example here without controls, sold by VAuctions 239 (7 Jan 2010), Lot 5. They commented on the lack of controls and also considered that it might mean this is a Celtic imitation, but they concluded not. (I'd say theirs looks much more Celtic than the OP coin.)

722065.m.jpg

Quoting their description:

"KINGS of MACEDON. Philip II. 359-336 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm - 14.06 g). Laureate head of Zeus right / Youth on horseback right, holding palm; no controls. Le Rider -; SNG ANS -. Nice VF, attractive toning, nice flan.
An unusual coin with no control marks. The style is fairly refined and doesn't appear to be a Celtic imitation. The lettering on the reverse is a bit larger than normal."

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I believe it to be Le Rider 462 D 235 R 381 which would be from the mint of Pella struck 323-315 BC. This coin does share an obverse die with other coins marked with a thunderbolt. This is the image in Le Rider IMG_5709.JPG.ab151feaac79ba1c3421a3f2d30c6d2c.JPG

There is another series in Le Rider but the obverse die looks nothing like this one. I have a tetradrachm from roughly the same period.

Antipater as regent Ar Tetradrachm In the name and types of Philip II of Macedon Pella 323-315 BC Obv Head of Zeus right laureate. RV  Jockey holding palm branch riding horse right Le Rider 524 14.35 grms 23 mm Photo by W. Hansen

503952076_philipII-16.jpg.baf980d95fc6488f23aff3adc15c5310.jpg

This group was minted after the death of Alexander no doubt in response to the growing need for manpower as a result of the Wars of the Successors. BB

Edited by kapphnwn
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3 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

I believe it to be Le Rider 462 D 235 R 381 which would be from the mint of Pella struck 323-315 BC. This coin does share an obverse die with other coins marked with a thunderbolt. This is the image in Le Rider IMG_5709.JPG.ab151feaac79ba1c3421a3f2d30c6d2c.JPG

There is another series in Le Rider but the obverse die looks nothing like this one. I have a tetradrachm from roughly the same period.

Thanks for the photo of Le Rider! His work is a die study right, so you're saying my coin is obverse die 235 and reverse die 381? If so, neither my obverse or reverse seems to match those. The portrait is quite easy to spot the differences due to the locks of hair curling in opposite directions below Zeus' ear. On the reverse, the tail is different and the second half of the legend starts too far down the right side.

Looking at an example of D235, I also feel that the style is fairly different from mine. The portrait of Zeus appears sterner with harsher features, whereas I feel the Zeus on mine has a more softer expression and rounded features.

It does seem that Le Rider 462 is without a control mark so if you were just meaning mine might be the same type but not the same dies that makes sense. Though unfortunately I couldn't find any other examples of D462 on PELLA or ACSearch and no examples of R381 either so it's hard to know what kind of stylistic variation to expect for this type.

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8 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

Edit: Nice coin by the way! 🙂

That is odd. I looked up the listing (this coin has actually been listed before at Naumann 115, I assume you got it at Naumann 119). The reported weight (14.26g) is fine, so it's not a fourree or Celtic standard.

Next place to look is the reference: "cf. Lanz 352-356."

That reference is Kostial's book on the Hermann Lanz (1910-1998) Collection prepared for an exhibition at the SMB - Munzkabinett Berlin, in association with the International Numismatic Congress 1997 (and the 2nd edition, with a 2003 exhibit in Munich). The INC-SMB exhibit was right before he died, so I imagine it was some way to honor him. In any case, that's now the standard reference for Celtic coins (or at least one of 2-3 standard refs):

  • M. Kostial, Kelten im Osten - Gold und Silber der Kelten in Mittel- und Osteuropa - Sammlung Lanz (Staatlichen Münzsammlung München, 1997[ 2003, 2nd ed.]), N. 422.

  • 3486296.m.jpg

The collection was sold by Roma Numismatics c. 2019 so you can find the images on ACSearch:

You can probably judge for yourself whether yours really belongs with this group. (I'm befuddled by their attribution.)

Here's Lanz 352:

6333355.m.jpg

Lanz 353:

5804786.m.jpg

354:

6167517.m.jpg

355:

5983397.m.jpg

356:

6193676.m.jpg

 

By way, incidentally, here's my example from the Hermann Lanz Collection, a 3.35g Baumreiter Drachm ["branch rider" type] ( Lanz 422 = this coin). Clearly yours and mine are from the same series! 😂

6333375.m.jpg

Thanks for those photos Curtis! From the get go I had a hunch Naumann wasn't close to being right with their attribution so after a brief search I moved on from looking at the suggested Lanz types but it's nice to have examples of each one just to be sure. Re: Naumann 115, I was actually the underbidder at the time on it and was a bit sad to have missed out. I wonder if the buyer didn't pay as 119 is about 3 months after 115 and I believe 3 months is their "grace period" before cancelling an invoice.

3 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

As @kirispupis noted, the lack of control symbols may be why they called it Celtic. It seems to be very unusual, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to say how much so.

I found another example here without controls, sold by VAuctions 239 (7 Jan 2010), Lot 5. They commented on the lack of controls and also considered that it might mean this is a Celtic imitation, but they concluded not. (I'd say theirs looks much more Celtic than the OP coin.)

722065.m.jpg

Quoting their description:

"KINGS of MACEDON. Philip II. 359-336 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm - 14.06 g). Laureate head of Zeus right / Youth on horseback right, holding palm; no controls. Le Rider -; SNG ANS -. Nice VF, attractive toning, nice flan.
An unusual coin with no control marks. The style is fairly refined and doesn't appear to be a Celtic imitation. The lettering on the reverse is a bit larger than normal."

I had a suspicion they might've called it Celtic for the same reason so I had been looking specifically for examples of both official and Celtic issue with no controls but it can be hard to get the search terms right. Great find with that particular example and the note about why they thought it was Celtic. I can see why Naumann might jump to that conclusion but without any other hints in the style that it may be Celtic, it's perhaps a bit too far of a leap for me to be convinced.

For a minute I was thinking the dotted borders is a bit unusual for an official type but it does seem that official types from a very early point do occasionally have dotted borders. Sometimes, even, one side has a solid border and the other a dotted border. On mine I see hints that both sides had dotted borders, perhaps that might be useful for narrowing down the exact period in combination with the style etc as well.

 

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