KINGS OF PONTOS. Mithradates VI Eupator, circa 120-63 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 29 mm, 16.79 g, 12 h), uncertain mint in Pontos, year 210 of the Bithyno-Pontic era, 10th month = July 87 BC. Diademed head of Mithradates VI to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ - MIΘPAΔATOY / EYΠATOPOΣ Pegasus grazing left; to left, star-in-crescent (Pontic royal badge); to right, IΣ above monogram; in exergue, I; all within Dionysiac wreath of ivy and fruit. Callataÿ D64/R-. SNG Copenhagen -. Extremely rare, Callataÿ knew a single example. A beautifully toned and sharply struck piece of great historical interest. Extremely fine.
From the Argyros Collection.
This is the last tetradrachm issued by the principal mint of Pontos before it ceased to strike coins from August 87 to April 86 BC. De Callataÿ has noted that this time period strikingly matches the fierce siege of Athens and the Piraeus by Sulla in August 87-March 86 BC and the appearance of a Pontic branch mint dating its coins to the months August-February of a new era. All twelve known examples of this unusual series were struck from a single obverse die, with close stylistic similarities to the last coins from the principal Pontic mint. Since the only two published hoards containing such tetradrachms were found in Athens and the Piraeus, De Callataÿ conclude that the principal Pontic mint must have been relocated to Athens (or, more likely, the Piraeus) in July/August 87 to support the war efforts of Mithradates' general Archelaos, whose monogram possibly even appears on the reverse of its coins. When Athens fell on 1 March 86 BC, Archelaos evacuated the Piraeus, apparently taking with him the mint workers, as the principal mint of Pontos resumed its production of coins dated to the ordinary Bithyno-Pontic era in April 86 BC.