CYZICUS (KYZIKOS) ELECTRUM STATER – 1 of 3 KNOWN “DOLPHIN-MAN” STATERS AVAILABLE TO THE COLLECTING PUBLIC – VF NGC GRADED GREEK MYSIA COIN (Inv. 14307)
MYSIA. CYZICUS (KYZIKOS) . Ca. 550-450 BC.
Electrum Stater, 16.09 g., 22 mm.
Obv. Winged divinity, perhaps Apollo Delphinios, with a man’s body and dolphin’s head swimming left, his right arm raised in greeting, and his left holding a tunny by the tail.
Rev. Quadripartite incuse square.
Von Fritze unlisted as a stater, but cf. 79 (hemihekte of same design); Franke-Hirmer 599 = Kraay & Hirmer 699 = Prinkipo 57 = Hurter-Liewald II, 79 (this being all references to the specimen in Berlin)
Ex Roma Numismatics XVII, 3/28/2019, lot 476.
NGC graded VF, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5, perhaps the most fascinating and desired of all of Kyzicus’ staters, the “dolphin-man” issue is known in only four pieces, including this coin. Only 3 of these are known to be on the market and available to the general public. This is the only one currently for sale from among the three.
It is likely that the fascinating hybrid figure on this coin represents Apollo Delphinios, regarded in some mythological traditions as being the eponymous founder of Cyzicius itself. The following text, somewhat abridged, is from the description provided by Roma Numismatics: “… Instead we should turn to the Homeric Hymns of Apollo, which relate that having been born on the island of Delos in the Cyclades, the god grew to manhood in just four days, and from there set out into the world, looking for a place to make his home, until he arrived at last at Mount Parnassos and the site of Pytho. Finding it occupied already by the oracle of Gaia and guarded by a serpent known as Python, the offspring of Gaia, Apollo slew the monster with an arrow and claimed the site for his own. Yet, despite being the son of Zeus, Apollo had nonetheless committed murder and to cleanse the blood-guilt he was required to serve king Admetos of Pherai in Thessaly for nine years. This he did, and when he returned to Pytho he came in the form of a dolphin bringing with him priests from Crete. The site became known as Delphi, from the Greek word for dolphin: ‘delphis’.
It is most likely that we are expected to see in this coin’s winged dolphin-headed man a representation of Apollo Delphinios: Apollo of Delphi; Apollo the dolphin. This identification is further supported by some myths which name the eponymous founder of Kyzikos’ father as being none other than the god Apollo; Aristides (Orat. Cyzic., 1, p.114) goes so far as to speak of the god himself as the founder of the city.”