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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, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C., Portrait of Queen Philistis

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Hieron II placed his wife and son on coins during his long reign. Those of Queen Philistis are eagerly sought after by collectors.
SH84601. Silver 5 litrae, CCO Syracuse 221 (D2/R2), SNG ANS 893, SNG Lloyd 1546, SNG Cop 827, Dewing 959, McClean 2918, Weber 1708, HGC 2 1557 (R2) (all from the same dies), Choice aEF/gVF, toned, light marks, weight 4.441 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 218 - 215 B.C.; obverse veiled and diademed head of Queen Philistis left, palm frond behind; reverse Nike galloping biga left, holding reins with both hands, E• in front of horses' legs, BAΣIΛIΣΣAΣ above, ΦIΛIΣTI∆OΣ in exergue; from the Lawrence Woolslayer Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica auction 27 (12 May 2004), lot 129; ex A.D.M. Collection; ex Ratto Collection, 1929 sale, lot 213; rare; $3000.00 (€2670.00)


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

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The oldest, wisest and most drunken of the followers of Dionysus, Silenos was also one of the young god's tutors. He was usually so drunk that he had to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey. When intoxicated, Silenus was said to possess special knowledge and the power of prophecy. The Phrygian King Midas was eager to learn from Silenus and caught the old man by lacing a fountain from which Silenus often drank. Silenus shared with the king a pessimistic philosophy: That the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible. An alternative story was that when lost and wandering in Phrygia, Silenus was rescued by peasants and taken to King Midas, who treated him kindly. In return for Midas' hospitality, Silenus told him some tales and Midas, enchanted by Silenus’ fictions, entertained him for five days and nights. Dionysus offered Midas a reward for his kindness towards Silenus, and Midas chose the power of turning everything he touched into gold.
GI84579. Silver drachm, Jameson 554 (dies); SNG ANS III 1262; Mirone 103; BMC Sicily p. 49, 43; HGC 2 579 (R2); SNG Cop -, VF, extraordinary style from the period of finest art, high relief obverse, die wear, flan flaw (some restoration?) on the reverse, weight 3.753 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 0o, Katane mint, c. 405 - 402 B.C.; obverse facing head of Silenos, bald, bearded, donkey ears; reverse KATANAIΩN, head of Apollo left wearing taenia, olive leaf and berry behind, all within a shallow circular incuse; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 224 (13 Oct 2014), lot 54; rare; $2000.00 (€1780.00)


Alaisa Archonidea, Sicily, c. 339 - 317 B.C.

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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 BC; 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; $800.00 (€712.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, c. 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head 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.
GI76363. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 193.3; Calciati III p. 55, 19; SNG ANS 1224; SNG Cop 167; HGC 2 546, EF, well centered, nice green patina, a few light marks, nose a little flat, weight 3.341 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 135o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), radiating locks, no hair band, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right, head facing, holds lizard with head downward in claw, three pellets (value mark) in exergue; $700.00 (€623.00)


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. 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 Tübingen -; 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.; obverse head 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; $700.00 (€623.00)


Lipara, Islands off Sicily, c. 412 - 408 B.C.

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This very rare type 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 (€480.60)


Akragas, Sicily, 338 - 317 B.C.

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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 München -, gVF, superb style, 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; reverse eagle standing left, wings open, tearing at hare left in talons, ∆ below wings; $500.00 (€445.00)


Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.

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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 München -; SNG Tübingen -, 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; $500.00 (€445.00)


Messana, Sicily, c. 330 - 325 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.
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 (€445.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, c. 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head 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, fine style, 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; $500.00 (€445.00)




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Thursday, December 08, 2016.
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Sicily