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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ DolphinView Options:  |  |  |   

Dolphins on Ancient Coins

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

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reigns in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2270.00 (€1929.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron, c. 478 - 466 B.C.

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From the height of Syracuse preeminence amongst the Sicilian Greeks, shortly after the great victory over the Carthaginian invaders at Himera in 480 B.C.
SH86308. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series X, 229 (V102/R155); HGC 2, 1306; Bement 451; Jameson 744; McClean 2611 (all from the same dies)., gVF, well centered, toned, obverse struck with a worn die, some marks and scratches, weight 17.105 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 478 - 475 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by male charioteer holding goad, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣYP-AKO-ΣI-ON (beginning 3:30, 1st Σ reversed), head of Arethusa right, hair turned up behind under diadem of beads, wearing bead necklace, surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise; ex Numismatica Ars Classica auction 59 (4 Apr 2011), lot 1571; $1290.00 (€1096.50)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH86580. Silver didrachm, Sambon 523, HN Italy 586, SNG ANS 395 ff. var., SNG BnF 836 ff. var.; SNG München 250 ff. var., SNG Cop 451 ff. var. (all var., no dolphin control), VF, attractive classical style, well centered and struck, toned, bumps and marks, edge crack, weight 7.118 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples) mint, 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring, dolphin head down (control symbol) behind; reverse man-faced bull walking right, head turned facing, being crowned by Nike flying right above, IΣ (control or magistrate initials) below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue; $370.00 (€314.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysios I, c. 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
GS86597. Silver hemilitron, SNG ANS 301; SNG Cop 669; SNG Lloyd 1379; BMC Sicily p. 182, 237; Boehringer Münzprägungen pl. II, 19; HGC 2 1392 (R2) , VF, dark toning, light marks and corrosion, tiny edge cracks, weight 0.434 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 395 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa left, wearing drop earring, hair bound in ampyx and sphendone, no control symbol or signature; reverse four-spoked wheel, SY-PA in upper quarters, two dolphins heads downward nose to nose in lower quarters; very rare; $340.00 (€289.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander IV, c. 323 - 311 B.C.

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
GS87631. Silver tetradrachm, Price 133; Müller Alexander 542; SNG Alpha Bank 514; SNG Saroglos 253; SNG Cop 688; SNG München 293; Ehrhardt Amphipolis 15, VF, excellent centering, light rose toning, light bumps and marks, weight 16.960 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 90o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, c. 316 - c. 311 A.D.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, dolphin head down left, Πo under throne; $340.00 (€289.00)
 


Messana, Sicily, c. 324 - 318 B.C.

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Founded in the 8th century B.C., until the 5th century Messina was called Zancle, meaning "scythe" because of the shape of its harbor. Carthage sacked the city in 397 B.C. and then Dionysius I of Syracuse conquered it. In 288 B.C. the Mamertine mercenaries seized the city by treachery, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives. The city became a base from which they ravaged the countryside, leading to conflict with Syracuse. Initially Carthage assisted the Mamertines. When Syracuse attacked a second time, the Mamertines asked Rome for help. Rome was initially reluctant, but allied with the Mamertines to limit Carthaginian power.In 264 B.C., Roman troops were deployed to Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian Peninsula. At the end of the First Punic War, Messana was a free city allied with Rome.
GB85698. Bronze litra, Caltabiano 761 group III (D28/R51); cf. Calciati I p. 52, 15; SNG ANS 393; HGC 2 833 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG Mün -; BMC Sicily -, gVF+, superb style, attractive patina, areas of corrosion and encrustation, weight 6.303 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Messana (Messina, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 324 - 318 B.C.; obverse ΠOΣEI∆AN, laureate head of Poseidon left, torch behind, K below; reverse MEΣΣANIΩN, ornate trident head, flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; rare; $225.00 (€191.25)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Byzantion Countermark

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This BY over prow countermark, along with a nearly identical countermark using an archaic form of B resembling Π, was used at Byzantium. David Sear notes, "at this time [when the counter mark was applied after c. 280 B.C.], the Byzantines were subject to continual threats by Gaulish invaders, who were bought off by the payment of huge annual tributes. The impoverished city had to resort to countermarking foreign coins in place of a proper currency."
CM85916. Silver drachm, c/m: Propontis Hoard 144, SGCV 1585 (Byzantion, 280 - 225 B.C.), coin: aF, flattened opposite countermark, marks, scratches, porosity; countermark VF, weight 3.808 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Western Ionian(?) mint, c. 323 - 297 B.C.; obverse Herakles head right wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; countermark: BY over prow left with dolphin finial within circular punch; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, control symbols left and below throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; rare countermark; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


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

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The nymph Arethousa is engraved in the style of Kimon, as seen on his signed hemidrachm (SNG ANS 306, HGC 2 1368).
GS88114. Silver hemilitron, HGC 2 1393 (R3), cf. SNG ANS 301 - 303 (head left), aVF/F, edge chip, porous, weight 0.226 g, maximum diameter 8.5 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 395 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of nymph Arethousa right, wearing earring, and necklace; reverse wheel with four spokes, SY-PA divided across two upper quarters, dolphin head down and inward in each of the two bottom quarters; extremely rare, only a few specimens known to Forum; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Taras, Calabria, Italy, c. 380 - 355 B.C.

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Taras, the only Spartan colony, was founded in 706 B.C. The founders were Partheniae ("sons of virgins"), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta). These out-of-wedlock unions were permitted to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens could be soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars. Later, however, when they were no longer needed, their citizenship was retroactively nullified and the sons were obliged to leave Greece forever. Their leader, Phalanthus, consulted the oracle at Delphi and was told to make the harbor of Taranto their home. They named the city Taras after the son of Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. The reverse depicts Taras being saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent to him by Poseidon. This symbol of the ancient Greek city is still the symbol of modern Taranto today.
GI85329. Silver nomos, Fischer-Bossert group 40, 607 (V239/R464); Vlasto 454 (same dies); HN Italy 879; SNG Cop 820 (same); SNG ANS 938; BMC Italy p. 174, 107, F, tight flan cutting off youth's head, minor die damage (raised lump) below Θ, weight 7.689 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Taras (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 380 - 355 B.C.; obverse nude youth on horseback standing right, right hand lowered behind him on horse's side, reins in left hand, left foreleg raised, Θ below horse; reverse Taras astride a dolphin left, kantharos in extended right hand, left hand behind on dolphin, TAPAΣ below; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, c. 415 B.C.

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Calciati referring to this type notes, "Coins exist signed by signed by Kimon (KIM), Phrygillos (ΦPI), Eukleidas (EY) and by an unknown engraver with the letter E (Eumenes?)." While we cannot see a signature on this coin, the style appears to be that of Phrygillos.
GI88103. Bronze hemilitron, cf. Calciati II p. 47, 19; SNG ANS 412; BMC Sicily p. 182, 243; SNG Cop 696; SGCV I 1186; HGC 2 1479 (S), VF, earthen encrustation, weight 3.738 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 B.C.; obverse Head of Arethusa left, hair in sphendone inscribed ΦPI, dolphin behind; reverse ΣY−PA, wheel of four spokes, dolphin in each of the lower quarters; $110.00 (€93.50)
 




  



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