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X-Rare Graeco-Thracian Silver Shield/Cuirass Phalerae with Gold Gilt

X-Rare Graeco-Thracian Silver Shield/Cuirass Phalerae with Gold Gilt


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Greek: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1333281
Apolonia Ancient Art
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290 Fillmore St. #D
Denver, CO. 80206
303-321-7351 gallery

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 $18,500.00 
$18,500.00

These seven extremely rare Graeco-Thracian silver phalerae date to the Hellenistic Period, circa 2nd-1st century B.C., and are approximately 4.3 inches in diameter for the larger phalera, and 2.25 inches in diameter for the other six phalerae. All seven phalerae are hand beaten from silver, and all have various degrees of gold gilt over the front surfaces. The largest phalera resembles a small bowl, and was hand beaten over a mold which formed the design seen in the center of the piece. This central design element resembles a "swastika", and perhaps this is the symbol this piece was meant to portray, but more likely, this symbol may also be a depiction of a "pinwheel" that spun in the wind. This "pinwheel" has a central dot or pin that supports the "four flaring bands" that are seen attached at the center. This "pinwheel" symbol was known to the ancient Greeks as a "strovilos" symbol, meaning "whirlwind", and is also a prominent symbol seen primarily on ancient bronze coins, and extremely rare silver coins that date circa 185-168 B.C. These coins are attributed to the Macedonian rulers Philip V and Perseus, and depict a Macedonian shield on the obverse with the "pinwheel" symbol seen at the center. (For the coin types see "SNG Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Vol. V, Part III, Macedonia", 1976, Nos. 3282-3288. Nos. 3282-3283 depict the "four flaring band" symbol, and nos. 3284-3288 depict the "six flaring band" symbol. See attached photo.) The silver phalerae offered here may have attached to a shield as portrayed in the coins noted above, or may have been attached to a leather type cuirass. The six nearly identical smaller phalerae would suggest this, as they all have two attachment pins that are flattened on the front and back sides. The clearance for these attachment pins on the backside suggests that these pieces were attached to a leather liner for a cuirass, rather than inserted into a shield that perhaps had a wooden core, but it is also quite possible that that these six phalerae were attached to a thin bronze cover of a shield that had a wooden core. The larger phalera with the "pinwheel" symbol has four attachment holes, two seen at the top and bottom, and this would allow for easy attachment to a shield with a wooden core. This piece may have also served as the central roundel of a chest cuirass as well. Whatever the case, these extremely rare pieces definitely had a military application, and are seldom seen on the market, as these pieces were made for a wealthy warrior of high status. The smaller phalerae support this theory, as they are very detailed and were hand beaten into shape. They are also individually detailed with multiple minute punch marks that defined the outer sculpted design. Within this outer sculpted design is a symbol at the center that is comprised with what looks to be a "cluster" of animal heads facing outwards. Each one of the heads have a snout, eyes, and two ears which are shared with each of the other individual heads. The overall rounded "cluster" design also resembles a flower as seen from above, and this design may have had multiple meanings and representations. The designs seen on all of the phalerae are also extremely rare relative to ancient Greek art, and may have been a unique symbol that perhaps distinguished the warrior who wore these phalerae. All of these pieces have dark brown/black deposits in various degrees seen over the silver and gold gilt, and the silver with little gold gilt and deposits also has a beautiful blue black patina. All of these pieces are intact, with two of the smaller phalerae having some stress cracks, and overall, these pieces are in exceptional condition. For the type see, "Thracian Art Treasures", by Ivan Venedikov and Todor Gerassimov, Caxton Pub., London, 1975, nos. 351-353. These pieces are also attached to a custom Plexiglas display stand, and can easily be removed. Ex: Private Krefield, Germany collection, circa 1980's. (Note: Additional documentation is available to the purchaser.) I certify that these pieces are authentic as to date, culture, and condition: