It's rare that thinking about an upcoming auction keeps me up at night for multiple days due to the excitement. This type has always been at the top of my wantlist but I never thought I'd manage to acquire one due to its absolute rarity. It's necessary to be patient and opportunistic when you want a coin of which only two are available to private collectors (especially when one of those two is owned by a friend who won't ever sell). If this coin were sold in a better publicized auction, I likely would have never been able to buy it. It went for roughly half of my max bid and I felt I only had a weak chance of buying it even at that level. Needless to say, I'm thrilled. And, without further ado: ATTICA. Athens. AV Diobol (1.43 gms), ca. 407/6 B.C. Svoronos-pl. 15#7. Head of Athena facing right wearing crested Attic helmet adorned with palmette and olive leaves; Reverse: Two owls standing confronted, olive branch between, ethnic in exergue. Minor scuffs, though commensurate with the assigned condition. Ex. John Whitney Walter Collection Athens was a prolific producer of silver coinage, minting millions of owl tetradrachms. Gold, however, was much scarcer in the region and Athens only minted gold coinage when in severe crisis. This gold diobol comes from the final years of the Peloponnesian War and is one of the most important and rarest Greek coins. Athens faced heavy losses against Sparta. Near the end of the war, they blocked Athens from accessing its silver mines, resulting in an economic emergency. After four years of being starved out, the need for funds became so dire, the authorities ordered the melting of seven of the eight massive gold statues of Nike which were standing around the Parthenon on the Acropolis. These statues were symbols of the city’s great economic reserves making this a true moment of desperation for Athens. The gold from these statues was minted into coins and used to construct a new fleet of ships to attempt a naval retaliation. Because of their value, to protect against forgeries, the dies used to strike the coins were stored in the Parthenon treasury in an alabaster box. Further indicating the importance of their minting, the historical context of these gold coins is exceptionally well documented by the playwright Aristophanes and by the Athenian treasury records. Unfortunately, even with the influx of funds, Athens was ultimately defeated at sea and surrendered to the Spartan general Lysander. While many thousands of coins were minted with the volume of gold from the statues, only a very small number survive today. This coin is one of only two diobols in private hands with the four others residing in museums. Other denominations are also known but exist in similar numbers, with only one or two examples of each available to private collectors.