Rare ancient gold coin fetches almost £5million at auction

Rare ancient gold coin once sold by Russian dictator Joseph Stalin fetches a record £4.84m at auction

  • One of the world’s most valuable coins has set records after a recent auction 
  • The coin, an ancient Greek stater, has been called one of the most beautiful ever

A rare gold coin has sold for £4.84million at auction, making it the most expensive ancient currency ever sold.

The coin, a gold stater, was made between 380 304 BC in the ancient Greek city of Panticapaeum in modern Crimea.

The coin was recently sold by rare coin dealer Numismatica Ars Classica at an auction in Switzerland.

The high price tag is due to the coin’s rarity beauty, the auctioneers said. The coin is viewed as one of the most important desirable coins of the entire Greek world.

Mythical status: The rare coin features a griffin, a creature with the back half of a lion head wings of an eagle

The coin has an engraving of the head of a satyr – a woodlspirit – on one side, a griffin with a spear in its mouth on the other.

The symbolism of the satyr is thought to be a pun on the name of ancient king Satyros I, while the griffin alludes to the griffins believed to guard the gold found in the mountains of Scythia. 

The auctioneers said the coin is ‘clearly the work of a master engraver’.

Coin collectors put an even higher price tag on this particular stater because it features the satyr’s head looking off to one side slightly, rather than in profile as is the norm.

But the coin’s past is just as interesting as its value.

Rare beauty: Coin experts praised the expert detailing of the engraving of a satyr's head

Rare beauty: Coin experts praised the expert detailing of the engraving of a satyr’s head

The coin was formerly part of the collection of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

It was sold in an auction of the museum’s duplicates in 1934, when Russian dictator Joseph Stalin decided to sell off art to raise money for Russian industry.

It was then bought by the famous Greek coin collectors, the Charles Gillet collection.

Numismatica Ars Classica co-director Arturo Russo said: ‘I am extremely pleased with the phenomenal result the sale of the Panticapaeum stater achieved at our latest auction in Zurich.’ 

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