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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.
Eryx, Sicily, c. 344 - 339 B.C.
Eryx was founded by Elymians on the summit of a mountain in northwest Sicily, about 10 km from Drepana (modern Trapani), and 3 km from the sea-coast, at the site of modern Erice. The Elymians maintained friendly relations and alliances with Carthage and came into frequent conflict with the Greeks. In 397 B.C., however, Eryx joined Dionysius I of Syracuse. It was speedily recovered by Himilco the following year. It again fell into the hands of Dionysius shortly before his death in 367 B.C., but was soon recovered by the Carthaginians, and probably was subject to their rule until the expedition of Pyrrhus in 278 B.C.GS84640. Silver litra, Campana CNAI 47; Jenkins I pl. 24, 24; SNG ANS 1348; Jameson 1894; Winterthur 630; HGC 2 324 (????) corr. (male head/man-faced bull); SNG Cop -, VF, toned, tight flan, obverse slightly off center, weight 0.567 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 270o, Eryx (Erice, Sicily) mint, Punic rule, c. 344 - 339 B.C.; obversehead of nymph left, hair in a bun at the crown, wearing triple-pendant earring and necklace; reverse bull standing left, Punic "RK" above; from the Nicholas Molinari Collection; very rare; $765.00 SALE PRICE $689.00
Alaisa Archonidea, Sicily, c. 339 - 317 B.C.
Alaisa Archonidea was founded about 403 B.C. by Archonides II, the ruler of Erbita. He settled the town with a large number of mercenaries he had gathered for the war against Dionysios. Alaisa was taken by Rome in 263 B.C. It prospered as a free Roman town with a growing economy and a Roman-style forum.GI84574. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 449, 1; SNG Morcom 542; Cammarata pl. 16, 190; Gabrici Notes 87 & pl. 5, 11 (Halaisa, 3 spec.); HGC 2 190 (R2), aF/VF, green and red patina, weight 15.194 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 45o, Alaisa mint, 360-340 B.C.; obverse AΛAIΣA, head of Sikelia right, wearing sphendone; reverse Herakles advancing right, brandishing club overhead in right hand, bow in extended left hand, quiver on shoulder; nude but for lion skin on head, over arm, and flying behind; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 216 (15 Oct 13), lot 2131 (sold for 500 euros, plus fees); very rare; $570.00 SALE PRICE $513.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.
The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with rare examples signed E or EΞ. Stylistic differences suggest other engravers also worked the issue. This example, signed EE, is of the very finest style and clearly the work of Exakestidas. EΞ was probably intended. No other examples of the type signed EE are known to Forum.SH83659. Bronze tetras, cf. Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29 (unlisted dies); SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Mün 1107; HGC 2 1432 (R1, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Tub -; SNG Morcom -, aEF, the finest style, nice green patina, light corrosion, edge flaws, weight 2.23 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obversehead of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing taenia, earring, and necklace, anepigraphic, EE (master engraver signature, blundered EΞ for Exakestidas) lower left below hair; reverse octopus; ex Savoca Numismatik GmbH & Co. KG, auction 6 (9 Apr 2015), lot 68; $560.00 SALE PRICE $504.00
Akragas, Sicily, 338 - 317 B.C.
Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Akragas was founded c. 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela. It grew rapidly, becoming second only to Syracuse in importance on Sicily but was sacked by Carthage in 406 B.C. and never fully recovered. It was renamed Agrigentum after it fell to Rome in 210 B.C.GI76352. Bronze AE 18, Calciati I p. 206, 116 R1 2; SNG ANS 1113; HGC 2 164; SNG Cop 95 var.; SNG Munchen -, gVF, superbstyle, nice green patina, tight flan, weight 6.283 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 270o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, 338 - 317 B.C.; obverse AKPA−ΓA, laureate head of Zeus left; reverseeagle standing left, wings open, tearing at hare left in talons, ∆ below wings; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.
Kephaloidoion, on Cape Cefalu, was under the influence of nearby Himera until c. 405 B.C. In 396 B.C., the town allied with General Himilco of Carthage against Dionysos of Syracuse but was defeated. Agathocles besieged and conquered the city in 307 B.C. Kephaloidion was again allied with Carthage at the beginning of the First Punic War but the citizens opened the gates when the Roman fleet appeared off the shore in 254 B.C. The city faded but survived at least into the second century A.D.GI76952. Bronze AE 17, Calciati I, p. 371, 1; HGC 2 649 (R2); SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Tub -, VF, green patina, light marks, reverse off center, weight 4.367 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 135o, Kephaloidion (Cefalu, Sicily) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C. (references vary greatly); obverse KEΦAΛOI∆I, Herakles head right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse bull butting right, club above, linear border; very rare; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
Kamarina, Sicily, c. 420 - 405 B.C.
A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaicGorgonhead pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.GI79953. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type C, 189; BMC Sicily p. 39, 36; Calciati III, p. 53, 16; SNG Stockholm 432; HGC 2 546; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -, Choice gVF, finestyle, nice green patina, well centered and struck, light marks, very light corrosion, small edge split, weight 4.731 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) round face, wild locks, no hair band, large eyes, straight mouth; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right on right leg, grasping lizard with head down in the left talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue, Γ (control mark) right; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 344 - 336 B.C.
Threatened by Carthage and dominated by Hiketas, the tyrant of Leontini, Syracusans sent an appeal for help to their mother city, Corinth. By a unanimous vote Corinth selected Timoleon to set sail for Sicily with a few leading citizens of Corinth and a small troop of Greek mercenaries. After defeating Hiketas, Timoleon put order to Syracuse' affairs and established a democratic government. He repelled Carthage in several wars, ending with a treaty which divided the island. Timoleon then retired without any title or office, though he remained practically supreme. He became blind before his death, but when important issues were under discussion he was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted. When he died the citizens of Syracuse erected a monument to his memory, afterward surrounded with porticoes, and a gymnasium called Timoleonteum.GI83514. Bronze hemidrachm, Calciati II p. 168, 72 st3/7; SNG ANS 477 ff.; SNG Cop 727; HGC 2 1440 (S), VF, green patina, edges earthen encrusted, reverse double struck, weight 15.872 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 342 - 338 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPTOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios right; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, thunderbolt, eagle on right standing right with wings closed; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.
Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marshnorth of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.GI76938. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG Munchen 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, gVF, nice green patina, tight flan, weight 3.242 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 90o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obversehead of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $400.00 SALE PRICE $360.00
Akragas, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.
Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Akragas was founded c. 582 B.C. by colonists from Gela. It grew rapidly, becoming second only to Syracuse in importance on Sicily but was sacked by Carthage in 406 B.C. and never fully recovered. It was renamed Agrigentum after it fell to Rome in 210 B.C.GI76829. Cast bronze trias, Calciati I, p. 143, 1; Westermark Fifth pl. I, 1; SNG Cop 61; SNG ANS 1015; SNG Lloyd 832; HGC 2 126 (R1);, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, some light corrosion, weight 16.186 g, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; cast near tooth-shaped flattened cone form, four pellets on flat top, sea-eagle standing left on one side, crab opposite; rare; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Fifth Democracy, 214 - 212 B.C.
Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General MarcusClaudius 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.GI76346. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 418, 209/3; SNG ANS 1052 var. (legend arrangement, etc.); HGC 2 1514 var. (head left, etc.); SNG Cop -, Choice VF, nice green patina, weight 4.176 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 105o, Syracuse mint, c. 214 - 212 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon right; reverse ΣYPAKO−ΣIΩN (clockwise from upper right), ornamented trident head; very rare; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00
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