KINGS OF PONTOS. Mithradates VI Eupator, circa 120-63 BC. Stater (Gold, 20 mm, 8.40 g, 12 h), Pergamon, year 3 of the Pergamene Era = 86 BC. Diademed head of Mithradates VI to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ - MIΘPAΔATOY / EYΠATOPOΣ Stag grazing left; to left, star-in-crescent (Pontic royal badge); to right, Γ / ΠE; in exergue, monogram; all within Dionysiac wreath of ivy and fruit. Callataÿ pl. 1, D8/-. RG 14, 9B. SNG Paris 806. Extremely rare, one of apparently only eight known examples. Well struck and attractive, with an idealized portrait of fine style. Very light die shift on the reverse as usual and with some minor marks, otherwise, extremely fine.
The third year of the Pergamene Era was a disastrous year for Mithradates VI. He was chased around within Asia Minor by a Roman army under Fimbria while his main forces, led by the general Archelaos and despite overwhelming numeric superiority, lost two pitched battles at Chaironeia and Orchomenos against Sulla. Callataÿ notes that the Pontic mints nearly ceased to strike coins during this time of crisis, except for in the capital of Pergamon, where the mint struck a small issue of staters and tetradrachms, known to him from two resp. three obverse dies. Our example appears to be only the eighth stater known from this crucial year.