Coins of Olympia (Elis), AR Stater, ca. 408 BCE
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A rare example.
Obv: Eagle right, standing on hare; wings closed, three rows of feathers;
tail folded and bent down; beak tearing throat, claws grasping belly, of
hare upside-down r., with broken neck and head bent back; legs outstretched.
Rev. F|A Thunderbolt; wings below curling slightly outwards, nearly
straight, one row of feathers emerging from cuticle; volutes above curling outwards; over each wing and under each volute a tendril curving outwards; one molding round handle; two flame lines on either side of central dart above. Around wreath, olive twigs fastened below, six pairs of leaves on 1., six on right branch. Shallow circular incuse,
a. Athens: 12,02 g (185,5 grains).
b (PI. V, [BO]vp.)- London: 11,38 g (175,7 grains); B. M. C. Pelop. 28. — Countermark on obverse.
c. Paris: 11,95 g (184,4 grains),
d. Sir H. Weber, London: 11,95 g (184,4 grains).
e. Cat. Hirsch XXXII (1912), PI. XIX, 502: 12,00 g (185,2 grains).
Background: From the fifth to the third century BCE, a magnificent series of special edition silver coins were minted from the festival center of Olympia for each iteration of the Olympic Games, with new designs produced every four years. Olympia was a sanctuary of ancient Greece near Elis, who organized the games. The city commissioned the most talented artists to engrave the dies for these coins, exhibiting Greece's artistry, resulting in these beautiful coins being treated as prestigious objects. These coins celebrated the god Zeus and his wife Hera, who presided over Olympia and the games themselves. The Olympic coinage is represented by a small range of imagery, focusing heavily on Zeus and his eagle, sometimes featuring snakes, thunderbolts as found in this example.
Bibliography: Seltman, Charles Theodore, 1886-1957. The Temple Coins of Olympia: Reprinted From "Nomisma" VIII.IX.XI. Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1921. #142
Dimensions: Weight: 11.78 grams
Condition: Very fine
Provenance: The James Corones private collection of ancient Greek coins, Maryland, acquired B & H Kreindler, NY