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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ SicilyView Options:  |  |  |     

Ancient Greek Coins of Sicily

The coins of Ancient Greek Sicily are considered among the finest numismatic works of art ever produced. Superb examples may cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forum's selections include some more affordable examples.


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

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With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
GI76945. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 287, 150 Ds 14 Rs 63; BMC Sicily p. 196, 391; SNG ANS 740; SNG Cop 767; HGC 2 1465 var. (R1, 4th Democracy, different controls), aEF, dark sea-green patina, light marks, small spots of light corrosion, flan with ragged edge splits, weight 8.501 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, 305 - 295 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of young Herakles left, wearing taenia, star (control symbol) behind neck; reverse lion walking right, right foreleg raised, club right above, arrow right (control symbol) in exergue; $240.00 (€204.00)


The Sileraioi, Sicily, c. 357 - 330 B.C.

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Sileraioi was not a city. The Sileraians were Campanian mercenaries who took their name from their proximity to the river Silaros. These rare coins have been found at the site of their settlement, Cozzo Mususino, a natural strong-hold in north central Sicily. The coins are often overstruck on coins from Syracuse minted c. 375 - 345 B.C.
SH68704. Bronze Calciati p. 301, 2; HGC 2 1243 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Morcom -, VF/F, reverse rough, weight 7.521 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 90o, Sileraian mint, c. 340 - 330 B.C.; obverse ΣI−ΛEPAIΩ−N (retrograde counterclockwise from 3:00), man-faced bull forepart charging right; reverse SIL (retrograde, upward behind), warrior advancing right, spear in right hand, shield in left; rare; $215.00 (€182.75)


Gela, Sicily, c. 339 - 310 B.C.

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Demeter in Greek mythology is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure; nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death; and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century B.C. she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons," a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before she was made one of the Olympians. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon.
SH71027. Bronze tetras, Jenkins Gela, group XII, 549; Calciati III p. 29, 59; BMC Sicily p. 74, 77; SNG Cop 287; SNG Munchen 324; SNG ANS 123; HGC 2 388 (R1), VF, well centered, green patina, corrosion, weight 2.921 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 135o, Gela mint, c. 339 - 310 B.C.; obverse ΓEΛΩI−ΩN (beginning upward on left), head of Demeter facing slightly right, wreathed with barley, wearing earrings and necklace; reverse bearded head of river-god Gela left, short horn over forehead, bull's ear, wreathed with barley (or reeds?); rare; $205.00 (€174.25)


Panormos, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 241 - 50 B.C.

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The gens Calpurnia was a plebeian family, which claimed descent from Calpus, the son of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Calpurnius Piso in 180 B.C., but from this time their consulships were very frequent, and the family of the Pisones became one of the most illustrious in the Roman state. Two important pieces of Republican legislation, the lex Calpurnia of 149 B.C. and lex Acilia Calpurnia of 67 B.C. were passed by members of the gens.
GI76937. Bronze AE 23, Calciati I p. 351, 130 (2 specimens); SNG Cop 556; HGC 2 1071 (C); SNG Munchen 810 var. (AE28); SNG ANS -; SNG Tub -; BMC Sicily -, gVF/aVF, attractive style, green patina, weight 5.744 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 180o, Panormus (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, magistrate C. Calpurnius, c. 241 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus left; reverse warrior standing left, sword in extended right, spear vertical behind in left, grounded shield behind leaning on spear, C CALP lower left; rare; $195.00 (€165.75)


Himera, Sicily, c. 430 - 420 B.C.

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In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
GI85845. Bronze hemilitron, cf. Calciati I, Group V, p. 35, 24; SNG ANS 180; McClean 2303; Weber 1356; HGC 2 472 (S), F, green patina, thick truncated-conic slightly irregular flan, struck with a worn obverse die, weight 15.015 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 315o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), almond eyes, protruding cheeks, nose well modeled, hair in large curls, protruding tongue, crude execution; reverse six pellets (mark of value), in two columns of three, nearly flat field; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; scarce; $190.00 (€161.50)


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.
GB86536. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 55, 24 (after 410 B.C.); SNG ANS 415 ff. (c. 405 B.C.); SNG Cop 697 ff.; HGC 2 1480 (S, 415 - 405 B.C.), VF, fine classical style, ragged irregular flan typical of the type, smoothing(?), weight 3.061 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of nymph left, no earrings, wearing ampyx, with hair bound in sphendone; laurel branch with two leaves behind; reverse dolphin swimming right above, ΣYPA arched over inverted scallop shell below; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $180.00 (€153.00)


Leontini, Sicily, c. 405 - 402 B.C.

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Leontini was founded as by colonists from Naxos in 729 BC, itself a Chalcidian colony established five years earlier. It was the only significant Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, being some 6 miles inland. The site, originally held by the Sicels, was seized by the Greeks owing to its command of the fertile plain to the north. The city was reduced to subject status in 498 BC by Hippocrates of Gela, and in 476 BC Hieron of Syracuse moved the inhabitants from Catania and Naxos to Leontini.
GI86576. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 77, 3/27 (this coin); SNG Cop 360; SNG ANS 270; SNG Morcom 606; SNG Lloyd 1070; BMC Sicily p. 92, 56; Laffaille 169; HGC 2 709 (R1), gVF, dark patina, well centered and struck, weight 2.165 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, Leontini mint, c. 405 - 402 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, olive leaf and olive behind; reverse tripod lebes with loop handles, a barley kernel flanking on each side, kithara between legs of tripod, three pellets in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 6 (22 Feb 2014), lot 45; Calciati III plate coin! ; $180.00 (€153.00)


Menaion, Sicily, c. 204 - 190 B.C.

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In the West foothills of the Hyblaei Mountains of Sicily, an indigenous settlement on a high peak under the name of Menai, flourished until 453 B.C. when its inhabitants were moved to nearby Paliké near the well-known sanctuary of the Palici. No traces of life survive from between the second half of the 5th c. B.C. and the end of the 4th c. B.C. The city, under the name of Menainon, began once more to flourish in the Hellenistic period, as attested by its rich necropolis. After the Roman conquest the city minted its own coinage. Its existence during the Roman period is attested by Cicero (Verr. 3.22.55; 3.43.102) and Pliny (HN 3.91). The site continued to be inhabited until the Arab Conquest and again during the following centuries.
GI76345. Bronze trias, Calciati III p. 186, 7; SNG Cop 384; SNG Munchen 617; BMC Sicily p. 97, 5; HGC 2 760 (R1); SNG ANS 290 var. (∆ vice IIII), VF, scratches, porosity, weight 3.135 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Menaion (Mineo, Sicily, Italy) mint, Roman Rule, c. 204 - 190 B.C.; obverse veiled bust of Demeter right; reverse MENAINΩN, crossed torches, IIII (mark of value) below; scarce; $175.00 (€148.75)


Solus (Kefra), Sicily, c. 395 - 350 B.C.

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Solus (or Soluntum, near modern Solanto), one of the three chief Punic settlements on Sicily, was on the north coast about 16 km east of Panormus (modern Palermo). It lay 183 meters above sea level, on Monte Catalfano, in a naturally strong situation, and commanding a fine view. The date of its founding is unknown. Solus was one of the few colonies the Phoenicians held when they withdrew before the Greeks to the northwest corner of the island. Together with Panormus and Motya, it allied with Carthage. Dionysius took the city in 396 B.C., but it soon broke away again to Carthage. In 307 B.C. it was given to the soldiers and mercenaries of Agathocles, who had made peace with Carthage after he abandoned them in Africa. In the First Punic War, Solus opened its gates to Rome only after Panormus fell. Under Rome it was a municipal town of no great importance, scarcely mentioned by Cicero. It was noticed by Pliny and Ptolemy, and later. Its destruction probably dates from the time of the Saracens.Solus
GI76344. Bronze tetras, Calciati I p. 310, 5; Jenkins Punic I pl. 23, 20; SNG ANS 740 ff.; SNG Munchen 909; SNG Morcom 672; HGC 2 1254; BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; Laffaille -, gF, green patina, weight 2.235 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, Kefra (near Solanto, Sicily, Italy) mint, Carthaginian occupation, c. 395 - 350 B.C.; obverse head of Athena facing slightly right, wearing Corinthian helmet; reverse Punic inscription: KFRA, nude archer kneeling right, wearing pileus, shooting arrow; scarce; $140.00 (€119.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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"The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. Exemplars signed by the great master are known. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with several exemplars signed E. However, stylistic evidence of many exemplars reveals such substantial differences the intervention of other engravers seems to be certain, while the discovery of traces of signature not completely legible but certainly not pointing to Exakestidas confirm the assumption." - Calciati p. 59
GI79945. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Munchen 1105; HGC 2 1432 (R1, Second Democracy, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Morcom -, VF, nice green patina, fine classical style, obverse slightly off-center, scratches and bumps, weight 1.825 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing necklace; reverse octopus; $140.00 (€119.00)


Himera, Sicily, c. 420 - 409 B.C.

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Himera (Termini), on the north coast of Sicily, was an ancient Chalcidic colony from Zancle, founded in the middle of the seventh century B.C.
GI76355. Bronze hemilitron, SNG Cop 320; Calciati I p. 43, 35; SGCV I 1110; SNG ANS 186, HGC 2 479, gVF, green patina, tight flan, small edge splits, weight 4.176 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 90o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 409 B.C.; obverse IME, head of nymph Himera left, wearing sphendone, six pellets before; reverse six pellets within laurel wreath; $135.00 (€114.75)


Syracuse, Sicily, Fifth Democracy, 214 - 212 B.C.

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Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General Marcus Claudius Marcellus took Syracuse in the summer of 212 B.C. Archimedes was killed during the attack. The plundered artworks taken back to Rome from Syracuse lit the initial spark of Greek influence on Roman culture.
GB70546. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 418, 209 Ds 71; BMC Sicily p. 225, 675; SNG ANS 1052; SNG Munchen 1549; SNG Cop -; SGCV I -; HGC 2 -, VF, nice green patina, weight 1.763 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 45o, Syracuse mint, c. 214 - 212 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon right, crescent behind; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphin downward flanking on each side, ΣYP−AKO/ΣI−ΩN in two lines in lower field divided by shank; rare; $130.00 (€110.50)


Syracuse, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.

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Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General Marcus Claudius Marcellus took Syracuse in the summer of 212 B.C. Archimedes was killed during the attack. The plundered artworks taken back to Rome from Syracuse lit the initial spark of Greek influence on Roman culture.
GB76368. Bronze AE 15, Calciati II p. 422, 221; SNG ANS 1080; SNG Cop 895; SNG München 1463; HGC 2 1516 (R1), gVF, well centered, areas of light corrosion, die break reverse right field, weight 3.558 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 212 - 180 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, with short hair, somewhat archaic style; reverse long torch, ΣYP−AKO/ΣI−ΩN in two divided lines across lower field; rare; $130.00 (€110.50)


Selinous, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI83626. Cast bronze cast trias, Calciati I p. 233, 2; SNG Morcom 666; HGC 2 1231 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Tub -, aF, green patina, weight 14.308 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); with teeth displayed, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; reverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with protruding tongue; four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; ex CNG e-auction 285 (22 Aug 2012), lot 14; ex L.C. Aes Grave Collection; rare; $130.00 (€110.50)


Ziz (Panormos), Punic Sicily, c. 405 - 380 B.C.

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Some authorities have identified the male head on the obverse as Apollo. Indeed, on some examples the head does resemble other depictions of the youthful sun god, but on other examples the god is horned. On this coin the head seems to better resemble traditional depictions of Herakles or Baal. The type usually has the Punic ethnic above the bull. Sometimes it is below. Most likely it should be above on this coin but is merely unstruck.
GS79961. Silver obol, cf. Jenkins Punic (SNR 50) 14; BMC Sicily p. 249, 27; SNG ANS 551; SGCV I 889 (all w/ Punic ethnic "sys" above bull), aVF, toned, reverse slightly off center, weight 0.547 g, maximum diameter 9.1 mm, die axis 45o, Ziz (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 405 - 380 B.C.; obverse male head left; reverse man-faced bull advancing left, head turned facing; $130.00 (€110.50)


Akragas, Sicily, 287 - 241 B.C.

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Zeus Hellanios may be translated as "Zeus worshiped by all Greeks." In Sicily, Zeus Hellanios was depicted without a beard, and so is often mistaken for Apollo. Zeus Hellanios may have been depicted on this coin type to help unify the Greeks against Carthage. It highlights a commonality among all Greeks and a distinction between them and the Phoenicians, who worshiped Melqart.
GB79799. Bronze trias, Calciati p 214, 134; SNG ANS 134; cf. SNG Morcom 541; SNG Cop 113 var. (∆ control letter on obv.); HGC 2 159, VF, attractive style, nice patina with earthen deposit highlighting, light marks, light corrosion, weight 4360 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 90o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, 287 - 241 B.C.; obverse beardless and laureate head of Zeus Hellanios right; reverse two eagles left, hare in talons, nearest with head upright screaming, eagle behind head lowered on hare; $130.00 (€110.50)


Akrai, Sicily, c. 211 - 80 B.C.

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Akrai was a small colony founded by Syracuse in 664 B.C. to secure the inland road to Gela. Constructed on the peak of a hill, Akrai was difficult to attack and ideal for watching the surrounding territory. Loyal to Syracuse, it nevertheless had administrative and military autonomy. Thanks to its strategic position, the city achieved great prosperity, peaking during the reign of Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C. Its coinage was only issued after the fall of Syracuse in 211 B.C. when it became part of the Roman province Acre. The city continued to be under Roman rule into the Byzantine period.
GI79952. Bronze AE 23, SNG ANS 902; SNG Cop 9; Calciati III p. 37, 1 var. (KP ligate); BMC Sicily p. 2, 1 var. (same); HGC 2 180 (S) var. (same); SNG Morcom -, aF, glossy lime-green patina, scratches, uneven strike, weight 7.517 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 210 - 80 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone right, hair rolled and wreathed with barley; reverse AK-P-AIΩN, Demeter standing left, wearing long chiton and peplos, torch in right hand, scepter in left hand; rare; $125.00 (€106.25)


Leontinoi, Sicily, 477 - 466 B.C.

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Leontini was founded as by colonists from Naxos in 729 B.C., itself a Chalcidian colony established five years earlier. It was the only significant Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, being some 6 miles inland. The site, originally held by the Sicels, was seized by the Greeks owing to its command of the fertile plain to the north. The city was reduced to subject status in 498 B.C. by Hippocrates of Gela, and in 476 B.C. Hieron of Syracuse moved the inhabitants from Catania and Naxos to Leontini. This coin was struck during a period of independence during which Leontini sought the support of Athens against Syracuse. In part, this request led to Athens' failed Sicilian Expeditions, after which Athens declined. Leontini was again made subject to Syracuse in 415 B.C.
GS85702. Silver obol, Boehringer Leontinoi 19; SNG Fitz 1039; SNG Mün 547; BMC Sicily p. 88, 19; SNG ANS 214 var. (ΛE/ON); SNG Cop 342 var. (same); HGC 2 687 (same), gVF, toned, well struck, weight 0.550 g, maximum diameter 10.8 mm, die axis 90o, Leontinoi mint, 477 - 466 B.C.; obverse facing lion scalp; reverse ΛE-ON (clockwise), barley grain, in shallow round incuse; $125.00 (€106.25)


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.
GB81527. Bronze AE 19, cf. Calciati II p. 395, 197 ff.; SNG Cop 844 ff., SNG ANS 964 ff., SGCV I 1223 (various controls), aVF, well centered, nice patina, weight 5.663 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 275 - 215 B.C.; obverse head of Poseidon left; reverse IEPΩ−NOΣ, ornamented trident head, dolphins at sides, uncertain control marks below; ex Forum (2014); $125.00 (€106.25)


Akragas, Sicily, 405 - 392 B.C.

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This countermarked issue was struck in the troubled period that followed the city's destruction by Carthage.
CM77135. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I p. 197, 92; SNG Cop 88; SNG ANS 1065; SNG Munchen 121; SGCV I 1026; SNG Morcom 529; HGC 2 -, Fair; countermark: Fine, weight 12.452 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily) mint, 405 - 392 B.C.; obverse countermark with the head of young Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion's skin headdress, worn crab undertype; reverse worn eagle with hare in talons undertype; $120.00 (€102.00)




    



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Catalog current as of Friday, June 22, 2018.
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