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AR Macedon, Akanthos tetradrachm 490 B.C. (17.03g) O: Lion left attacking bull right, bucranium below dotted ground line; Desneux, RBN, 1949, 8 and plate 5 (same dies and probably the same specimen listed at this weight from a private collection). R: Quadripartite incuse square G: high relief toned EF. Ex Elizabeth Washburn King collection and Bryn Mawr College, Christie's New York, December 11, 1992, lot 664. Purchased from Charles McSorley, NY in 1940 for $125. “The coin is not perfect, but is aesthetically the nicest one that I have seen in a long time and my favorite style of the series. The pedigree is also very nice as this was an outstanding collection. This coin was featured as a color illustration and enlargement in a mostly b/w catalog in 1992. It sold for $6600 then which was a good price at the time. Of course I really like the $125 price from 1940.” EJW

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This design exudes the power of the two strongest animals known to the ancients and was the design in Akanthos tetradrachms until the time of Philip II though it evolved in subtle ways and with minor variations to the obverse. The reverse design begins with the incuse punch and evolves through variations on a square (plain, with stippling and with four pyramids eventually having magistrates names around the square made of four blocks). In lesser denominations, such as the tetrobol, the bull alone prevails. This coin has the oldest obverse design. In a few years a theta began to appear above the animals and the bucranium disappears. This is a complex design to be incorporated into the small space of a coin die as the jumble of body parts before the kneeling bull indicates, but the power of the lion is overwhelming. -h
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