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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.
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
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. SH70877. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer 509 (V268/R362), SNG ANS 162 (same dies), VF, attractive Arethusa, obverse die worn, edge flaw, weight 16.852 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 460 - 450 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, reins in both hands, Nike flying right above crowning horses, ketos swimming right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, diademed head of Arethusa right, hair rolled and tucked under diadem, wearing earring and necklace, four dolphins swimming around clockwise; $1620.00 SALE PRICE $1458.00
Lipara, Islands off Sicily, c. 412 - 408 B.C.
This very raretype should not be confused with the later, lighter, issue with the pellets arranged in two rows of three.SH73170. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I p. 14, 16; BMC Sicily p. 259, 33; SNG Cop -; SNG München -; HGC 2 -, VF, green patina, irregular flan, light corrosion, weight 12.076 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 0o, Lipara mint, c. 412 - 408 B.C.; obverse young Hephaistos seated right on draped chair, nude, hammer in right hand, kantharos in left; reverse ΛIΠAPAIΩN, ethnic around a circle of six pellets; very rare; $540.00 SALE PRICE $486.00
Messana, Sicily, c. 330 - 325 B.C.
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.SH77506. Bronze tetras, HGC 2 840 (R1); Caltabiano 751 ff.; Calciati I p. 52, 16; SNG Cop 421; SNG München 674; SNG ANS -; BMC Sicily -, Nice VF, fine classical style, nice green patina, weight 3.603 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 180o, Messana (Messina, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 330 - 325 B.C.; obverse ΠOΣEI∆AN, laureate head of Poseidon left, ∆ (mark of value) behind; reverse M−E−Σ−Σ−A−NI−ON, ornate trident head, flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; rare; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00
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 München 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; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00
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 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; $400.00 SALE PRICE $360.00
The Sileraioi, Sicily, c. 357 - 330 B.C.
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 München -; 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; reverseSIL (retrograde, upward behind), warrior advancing right, spear in right hand, shield in left; rare; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00
Piakos, Sicily, c. 425 - 400 B.C.
Struck with unsigned dies by the ?Maestro della Foglia.? Rizzo was the first to suggest that this famed artist who engraved magnificent masterpieces for Katane, was also the engraver for the dies of this Piakos coinage. Other experts have agreed. This particular type might have been his very first work. Calciati dates the type to a possible period of transitory independence, 425 - 424 B.C., during the time of the first Carthaginian invasion of Sicily to shortly after Gela's conference. Other authorities date it as late as 400 B.C.SH71341. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 198, 2; Rizzo pl. LX, 14; HGC 2 1101 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG München -; SNG Morcom -, VF, weight 2.357 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 45o, Piakos mint, c. 425 - 400 B.C.; obverse P•I•A•K (pellets are mark of value), laureate and horned head of a young river-god left; reverse hound right attacking fallen stag right, seizing her by the throat, barley kernel on left and another on right; rare; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Pyrrhus of Epirus, 278 - 276 B.C.
This combination of control symbols is not listed in the references examined. The cornucopiaobverse control symbol is normally paired with a fulmen (thunderbolt) on the reverse. The vertical trident reverse control symbol is normally paired with a club on the obverse.SH73164. Bronze AE 26, Calciati II p. 325, 177 Ds 69 var. (club vice cornucompia); SNG Cop 810 var.; SNG ANS 844 ff. var.; SNG München 1333 ff. var.; HGC 2 1450 (S), VF, nice style, nice patina, broad flan, edge split, weight 11.274 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 278 - 276 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Herakles left, clad in lion-skin head-dress, cornucopia (control symbol) behind; reverseAthena Promachos advancing right, helmeted and draped, hurling javelin with raised right hand, shield in left hand, no inscription, vertical trident head upward (control symbol) behind; rare variety; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00
Gela, Sicily, c. 339 - 310 B.C.
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 worshipped 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 Müchen 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; $315.00 SALE PRICE $284.00
Timoleon installed a democracy in 345 B.C. After the long series of internal struggles had weakened Syracuse's power, Timoleon tried to remedy this, defeating the Carthaginians near the Krimisos river in 339 B.C. Unfortunately the struggle among the city's parties restarted after his death and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power in 317 B.C.SH71353. Bronze dilitron, Calciati II p. 185, 80; SNG ANS 533; SNG Morcom 717; SNG München 1159; SNG Lloyd 1456; BMC Sicily p. 189, 311; HGC 2 1439 (S), gVF, some corrosion, weight 18.018 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, 344 - 336 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, free horse prancing left; $310.00 SALE PRICE $279.00
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