From the Empedocles Collection
MACEDON. Mende. Circa 460-423 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 25 mm, 17.21 g, 6 h), c. 430-425. Dionysos, bearded and wearing a himation, reclining left on the back of a donkey walking to right, holding a kantharos in his extended right hand and resting his left on the saddle cloth; in the exergue, grasshopper to right. Rev. MEN - ΔA - I - ON Linear square containing a vine with leaves, tendrils and four bunches of grapes. Gulbenkian 415 (same dies). Noe, Mende 90 (this coin cited). SNG ANS 348. A splendid example of the High Classical art of the later 5th century, struck from dies prepared by a master engraver, beautifully toned and with a refined and sober representation of the middle-aged Dionysos; one of the best known examples on the whole Mende series. Some minor deposits, otherwise, extremely fine.
From a European collection, ex Freeman & Sear FPL 11, Spring-Summer 2006, 27 and Spink 96, 31 March 1993, 64, from the Empedocles Collection, Ars Classica XVII, 3 October 1934, 337, and from the Kaliandra Hoard of 1913.
The fascinating series of the classical Mendean tetradrachms came to an end with the Athenian recapture of the city in 423. After that, the city struck tetradrachms only sporadically and in very small numbers. This piece, struck shortly before 423, has a remarkably sculptural quality, comparable to the best contemporary works in marble or bronze. The serene and sober portrayal of Dionysos, the city’s patron, is of surpassing elegance, showing the god completely in control of himself, despite the large drinking vessel he holds in his hand.
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