Pantikapaion gold stater sets $3.8m World Record price at Prospero Greek coins auction

It seems an age ago that we first reported on the upcoming sale by Baldwin's of the fabled Prospero collection of ancient Greek coins, which the company first announced that they were planning in the summer of 2011.

Ahead of the Paul Hill, Baldwin's ancient coin specialist and cataloguer for the collection had described it as 'most significant numismatic event of our generation', and it didn't disappoint.

Although results are still in the process of being confirmed initial figures released by the company state that the sale total for all 642 lots is approximately $25m (including buyer's premium at 17%), more than double the pre-sale estimate.

The anonymous collector spent around 30 years assembling the collection. It was dubbed 'Prospero' to reflect the theme of magic and myth in the holding, referring to the magician in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The sale of the spectacular collection concluded at 03.30 EST on January 5th and, after a phenomenal eight hour 'white glove' auction as the magic of the dazzling collection captured the imagination of the collectors.


Pantikapaion gold stater
The wonderful $3.8m Pantikapaion gold stater

Anticipation had built up with the long run-up to the auction and an electrifying buzz filled the air when the auctioneer opened the first lot at US$450 and was immediately bid up to US$1,700. Excitement grew as lots proceeded to sell for three, four, five times their pre-sale estimates, it became clear that the prices achieved in this landmark auction would be the new benchmarks for high quality Greek coins.

International collectors with an eye for the highest quality Greek coins took the bidding to new levels never seen before in this market. Bidding from start to finish was extremely strong

Lot 213, the catalogue cover coin, broke all previous world records for an ancient Greek coin, selling for a phenomenal $3.8m. This beautiful example of a Gold Stater from Pantikapaion depicts the head of a satyr, a character widely used in Greek mythology.

The coin is one of the most spectacular numismatic objects to have survived from the classical world and is one of the greatest and admired of all the ancient Greek coins. This miniature work of art is an incredibly rare artistic masterpiece and it was no surprise when bidding soared past the pre-sale estimate of US$650,000.

A good stalwart group of international collectors with an eye for the highest quality Greek coins took the bidding to new levels never seen before in this market.

Bidding from start to finish was extremely strong and lots were selling to many different bidders from around the world, with a noticeable presence from European and America dealers and collectors.

Silver tetradrachm Naxos Prospero collection
The silver tetradrachm of Naxos with beautifully clear features

The internet too played an important role in the success of the auction with a total of US$1,400,000 selling to bidders online from around the globe. The most expensive single coin sold online went under the hammer at US$150,000 and the internet was responsible for a great deal of underbidding throughout the sale.

Paul Hill commented directly after the auction:

"The sale of the Prospero collection has far exceeded our expectations. It has truly been a once in a generation auction and one that will go down in numismatic history. It was an honour and a privilege to catalogue this collection and the results achieved are testament to the dedicated team at Baldwn's."

The coins in this auction broke records across the board but the most noteworthy sales included lot 149, a Silver Tetradrachm of Naxos, a wonderful example of one of the greatest of all fifth century Greek coins, which sold for US$850,000 against its pre-sale estimate of US$125,000 and lot 411, an outstanding Stater of Phaistos with an exceptional provenance, which achieved a staggering US$650,000 against the pre-sale estimate of US$40,000.

Ian Goldbart, Managing Director of Baldwin's commented:

"The auction has just concluded after eight hours. We are delighted to have sold this important and comprehensive Prospero Collection for a total of approximately $25m, making it the largest auction in Baldwin's history."

Rhodes tetradrachm
Our very own Rhodes tetradrachm

Watch this space for more details from the extraordinary sale.

Alternatively, if you're a keen collector of high quality ancient coins, or just intrigued by the strength of their market as shown in this auction, take a look at this superb silver tetradrachm coin from Rhodes, 410BC.

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