Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gorgon/cow

Alfredo asked to see some favorites from my collection. This coin is a large-ish and heavy (21mm; 10.7g) bronze of Parion. It's similar in style to the common gorgon/cow hemidrachms.

I was the underbidder in the Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger auction, October 2003. After I lost I regretted it and felt I should have bid higher. So I was very excited to see this coin turn up again in Ed Waddell's trays at the New York show a few months later for not much more the high bid plus juice. I have been able to trace this coin back to a Bankhaus H. Aufhaeuser auction in October 1988.

Parion struck bronze gorgons with several reverse types. The only one that shows up with any frequency is the eagle. The cow type appears in three sizes. The large size shown here has the most primitive appearance and is probably the earliest. The middle size lacks the protruding tongue and the gorgon seems more human. I recall von Aulock describing the type middle type as depicting Athena, but on the best specimens like this CNG example there are faint snake-ties below the chin. The smallest size gorgon/cow is quite rare — I only know of the specimen in the BM catalog.

So when was it struck? I don't trust published dates for bronzes of Parion. Warwick Wroth divided the BM's Parion pieces into '350-300 or later' and 'Circ. 200 - Augustus' categories. Putting "or later" into a date range is a bit weaselly. And what did the good citizens used from 300 to 200 BC? Parion's neighbors were striking bronze as early as 440 BC (Pergamon) and 400 BC (Kyzikos). My best guess is that both this coin and the hemidrachms date no earlier than 360 BC when Parion was conquered by Iphiades of Abydos.

2 comments:

Alfredo De La Fe said...

Very nice! Those large bronze gorgons of Mysia are neat.

teegee said...

If I had one, it would be among my favorites, too.