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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, 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; $2520.00 (€2142.00)


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; $1440.00 (€1224.00)


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 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; $400.00 (€340.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 344 - 336 B.C.

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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; $400.00 (€340.00)


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

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References disagree on the date of this type. Dates range from the rule of Hieron II beginning in 275 B.C. to the end of the 5th Republic in 212 B.C.
GS86619. Silver 2 1/2 litrae, SNG Cop 882, SNG ANS 903, SNG München 1439, HGC 2 420 (R2) corr., BMC Sicily -, VF, well centered, toned, light bumps and marks, ethnic weakly struck, weight 2.229 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 216 - 215 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIOI, Isis standing facing, looking up to heaven, veil billowing out behind around head, scroll in right hand, filleted palm frond in left hand, A upper right; very rare; $400.00 (€340.00)


Himera, Sicily, 420 - 409 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.
GB86306. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I p. 41, 27; SNG Cop 318, SNG Munchen 365; SNG ANS 184 var. (grasshopper control), gVF, dark patina, bumps and scratches, areas of light corrosion, earthen deposits, a little off center, weight 6.039 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 90o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 409 B.C.; obverse Pan on a goat prancing right, nude but for chlamys fluttering in the wind behind, preparing to blow on conch in right, thyrsus in left over shoulder, Corinthian helmet (control symbol) below; reverse HIMEPAION, Nike flying left, apluster with dangling fillets in extended right, fold of long chiton in left, six pellets (mark of value) left below arm; $310.00 (€263.50)


Melita, Malta, c. 150 - 146 B.C.

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Melite or Melita (present-day Mdina) Malta began as a Bronze Age settlement, which grew into the city Maleth under the Phoenicians, and became the administrative center of the island. The city fell to Rome in 218 B.C., and it remained part of the Roman and later the Byzantine Empire until 870 A.D., when it was destroyed by the Aghlabids. The city was then rebuilt and renamed Medina, giving rise to the present name Mdina. It remained Malta's capital city until 1530. Only a few vestiges of the Punic-Roman city have survived. The most substantial are the ruins of the Domvs Romana, an aristocratic town house, in which a number of well-preserved mosaics and statues have been found. Sparse remains of other buildings and parts of the city walls have been excavated, but no visible remains of the city's numerous temples, churches, and other public buildings survive.
GI86525. Bronze AE 26, Calciati III p. 353, 7; SNG Cop VIII 463; SNG Dreer 607; Coleiro 3, F, red-black patina, reverse a little off center, light marks and corrosion, weight 12.228 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 0o, Melita (Mdina, Malta) mint, under Roman rule, c. 150 - 146 B.C.; obverse MEΛITAIΩN (clockwise on right), head of Isis (Coleiro says Astarte) left, wearing uraeus crown, composite of symbol of Tanit and caduceus in left field; reverse Osiris kneeling left on left knee, with four open wings, wearing double crown, short scepter in right hand, flail in left hand; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; very rare; $300.00 (€255.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Pyrrhus of Epirus, 278 - 276 B.C.

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This combination of control symbols is not listed in the references examined. The cornucopia obverse 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 Munchen 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 headdress, cornucopia (control symbol) behind; reverse Athena 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; $260.00 (€221.00)


Gela, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Gela, named after the river Gela, was founded by colonists from Rhodos and Crete around 688 B.C. In 424 B.C., the Congress of Gela established a "Sicily for the Sicilians" platform and formed a league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island. The city had a history of internal strife between its plebs and aristocrats. When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they easily captured the Gela with the help of its elites. In 282 B.C., Phintias of Agrigento ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. In Roman times it was only a small settlement.
SH76948. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 17, 32/1; Jenkins Gela 516; SNG ANS 115; SNG Cop 283; SNG Munchen 314; BMC Sicily, p. 73, 66; HGC 2 379 (S), gVF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, light marks and corrosion, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 90o, Gela mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head lowered and turned slightly facing, barley kernel over ΓEΛAΣ above, three pellets in exergue; reverse horned head of beardless young river-god Gela right, no diadem, floating hair, barley kernel behind; scarce; $260.00 (€221.00)


Akragas, Sicily, 450 - 440 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.
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; $250.00 (€212.50)




  



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REFERENCES

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Jenkins, G.K. The Coinage of Gela. AMUGS II. (Berlin, 1970).
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Poole, R.S. ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Sicily. (London, 1876).
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Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Seltman, C.T. "The Engravers of the Akragantine Decadrachms" in NC 1948.
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 1: Italy - Sicily. (West Milford, NJ, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Parts 5 - 6. (Berlin, 1977).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain IV, Fitzwilliam Museum, Leake and General Collections, Part 2: Sicily - Thrace. (London, 1947).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain, Volume X, John Morcom Collection. (Oxford, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, USA, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Parts 3 - 5. (New York, 1975).
Tudeer, L.O. Die Tetradrachmenprägung von Syrakus in der Periode der Signierenden Künstler. (Berlin, 1913).
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Weil, R. Die Künstlerinschriften der sicilischen Münzen. (Winckelmannsfest-Progr. 44), 1884.
Westermark, U. "Himera. The Coins of Akragantine Type 2" in Travaux Le Rider.
Westermark, U. & K. Jenkins. The Coinage of Kamarina. Royal Numismatic Society, Special Publication 9. (London, 1980).


Catalog current as of Monday, June 18, 2018.
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Sicily