The Nymphaeum, the Nymphaeum, the Nymphaeum is on Fire!!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by zumbly, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    This one is not my first purchase of 2016, but from my first package of coins to arrive this year.

    It's the sort of curiosity I really like, marrying rarity - I found one example in acsearch and another in CNG - with an interesting design and historical background. It was struck during Illyrian Apollonia's time as a Roman protectorate, the obverse showing a formation of rocks on fire, and the reverse a lagobolon, a rabbit-beating stick that was a symbol of the satyr-god Pan.

    The rocks represent a famed nymphaeum that was located near Apollonia. While the typical nymphaeum was a sanctuary associated with sacred springs, grottoes and water nymphs, that of Apollonia was unusual in that streams of fire were said to issue from the rock of the nymphaeum, while warm asphalt springs flowed from beneath, giving life to a lush, verdant valley.

    Another tidbit of knowledge I enjoyed discovering - in his Life of Sulla, Plutarch describes an event that occurred while Sulla was camped in the vicinity of Apollonia while preparing for his invasion of Rome. The story is that a satyr was caught while asleep in the Nymphaeum and brought before Sulla. Translators tried in vain to question the creature, who would only reply in the hoarse, bleating cries of a goat. In horror and disgust, the great Roman general ordered that it be taken away from his sight. Poor Pan.

    ILLYRIA, Apollonia
    AR 1/2 Victoriatus
    1.5g, 14.8mm
    Circa mid-late 1st century BC
    Maier 121; BMC 44.
    O: AI-NEA, fires of the Nymphaeum of Apollonia.
    R: AΠOΛΛΩ-NIATAN, lagobolon.
    Notes: The most common silver coins of Apollonia and Dyrrhachion under Roman rule are the drachms with the familiar cow and suckling calf obverse. While conventionally called drachms, these were actually struck at the weight of the Roman victoriatus, 3.4g. The half-units, however, seem to have gotten stuck with the unwieldy name 1/2 victoriati rather than hemidrachms.

    Please share any coins of Apollonia that you might have!
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  3. GregH

    GregH Well-Known Member

    An amazing piece, and not a type I knew about. I don't have anything like this of my own, but thank you for sharing.
    zumbly likes this.
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I can not help thinking that there was a shortage of skilled engravers so rather than issuing coins done poorly, they came up with a design that was easy to cut. This is also the kind of coin I would love to have simply because it is so very different in so many ways.

    Rather than showing my ordinary Apollonia cow I offer this link to a coin I did not know existed but one I suspect will be on both of our want lists now.

    It is early in the morning here and I have already learned more than I would expect for an entire day. I think I'll go back to bed and not risk brain overload before breakfast.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Part of the fun of the hobby for those who can not buy every coin they see is research. We have mentioned the separate hobbies of coin cleaning and coin photography but here is another one: watching coin sales in which you are not participating. Few people own Thoroughbreds but many watch horse races.

    You quoted the CNG specimen:
    That sale was for $900 on a $300 estimate. It quotes that same coin as being from their sale 57 from 2001 (the CNG online listing gives 2000 but sale 57 was April 4, 2001) so I looked it up and found a listing with a highlight box and a $500 estimate BUT the lot does not appear in the Prices Realized so I assume it did not sell at that sale but may have been scavenged later by someone who though it was interesting. Included with the Prices Realized for that sale was a long list of unsold lots and the prices they could be bought for at that time but lot 278 was not on that list.

    The interesting part is that in ~15 years the same coin offered by the same firm went from $500 to $300 in estimate and from unsold to $900 in realization. We often discuss the status of estimates and reserves. If the 2001 after sale purchaser paid 60% minimum, that would be $300 or equal to the 2010 estimate. The 2010 purchaser had competition or the once unloved lot would not have gone to three times estimate.

    Who needs mystery novels when we have the coin market? What were we talking about here within a year of this sale?
    Where is it now? The mystery continues.
    Valentinian and TIF like this.
  6. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    That's an awesome OP-coin, Z-Bro ... the obverse and reverse are both very cool (I love coins showing weapons, so the lagobolon-reverse is a total winner)

    I'm pretty sure that this is my only example showing a lagobolon ...

    Kings of Macedon PAN TET a.jpg
  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

    Wow, Z... what an incredible and stalk-worthy score! Oh how I want one :)

    Doug-- thanks for excavating the old Sheik thread. It was before my time and was very enjoyable, if not new information. When searching archives for comps I always wonder if a given coin was "sheiked" when the price realized is otherwise inexplicably high.
    zumbly likes this.
  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    Thanks for the detective work on the CNG example; I was wondering about its earlier outing in the 2001 sale. I'm finding that for rare issues, estimates are even more useless than they generally are for trying to predict the final hammer of a coin. This example shows that even past sales records can be pretty useless. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the next sale of this coin ends up with it even higher than $900, down to $300, or unsold again.

    On the other hand, the next time one of those imitative Apollonia/Dyrrhachion hybrid drachms you showed in the acsearch link turn up, there's likely to be at least one buyer :).
    TIF likes this.
  9. JBGood

    JBGood Collector of coinage Supporter

    Illyria Dyrrhachion.jpg
    My one coinf from this area. You have to look at this obverse and go...awwww.

    Illyria, Dyrrhachion
    17mm, 3.88 grams
    Cow standing right suckling calf
    Double stellate pattern, inscription around
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
  10. JBGood

    JBGood Collector of coinage Supporter

    I had an inflamed logobolon once, very painful!
  11. Eng

    Eng Senior Eng

    Very cool Z, never seen this type before, very interesting coin and write up! what i really didn't know that they played hockey back then, with the the hockey stick on the reverse and the flames on obverse, they must of called them the Nymphaeum Flames. :woot:
    stevex6 and zumbly like this.
  12. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    I wrote a whole article on this type for The Numismatist a few years ago. I'll try to find a pdf when I get home. I'm pretty sure I have a photo of the coin anyway, a different example than those cited here.

    Phil Davis
    TIF, zumbly and Jwt708 like this.
  13. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    The lagobolon-hockey stick is actually a special club used for bashing bunnies. (Seriously!)
  14. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

  15. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    Likely story! Given the flames, we can at least be pretty sure it wasn't ice hockey :D.
  16. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    I'd love to read it!
    Volodya likes this.
  17. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    Well, Z-Bro => The Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames (both NHL Hockey teams)

    Hmmm, the Atlanta emblem looks quite a bit like your obverse, eh?


  18. Ancientnoob

    Ancientnoob Money Changer

    Totally looks like ...[​IMG]

    Mikey Zee, chrsmat71, zumbly and 2 others like this.
  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

    Consider me just a bit less ignorant about ice hockey now :D. I like that last one!

    And thanks for the comments and coinpliments, everyone.
    stevex6 likes this.
  20. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    I found my Nymphaeum article. File attached.

    Attached Files:

    chrsmat71, Jwt708 and David Atherton like this.
  21. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    Here's a better image of the featured coin:

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