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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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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; $1800.00 (€1584.00)

Herbessos, Sicily, c. 344 - 335 B.C.

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The site of the native Sikel Herbessos is uncertain but it was probably located near Leontinoi. Like other Sikel towns, it supported Carthage against Syracuse, however, in 396 B.C. Herbessos formed an alliance with Dionysos I. In 310 B.C., Agathokles installed a garrison to hold it against Carthage. In 309 B.C., with the aid of Akragas, the city expelled the garrison and claimed its freedom. In the Punic Wars, Herbessos was repeatedly held by Carthage until taken by Rome. About 213 B.C., Herbesso became a civitas decumana, paying 1/10th of its annual harvest to Rome. Although it probably continued to exist for centuries, it then disappears from history.
GI72187. Bronze drachm, Castrizio series II, 1 (354- 344 B.C); Calciati III, p. 252, 4; SNG Morcom 593; SNG Lloyd 1002; Rizzo pl. LIX, 17; HGC 2 411 (R2), VF, overstruck on Syracuse drachm, weight 32.639 g, maximum diameter 33.1 mm, die axis 270o, Herbessos mint, c. 344 - 335 B.C.; obverse EPBEΣΣINΩN, head of Sikelia right, hair adorned with myrtle olive wreath; reverse forepart of man-faced bull right; big bronze!; rare; $1200.00 (€1056.00)

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; $600.00 (€528.00)

Eryx, Sicily, c. 400 - 390 B.C.

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Calciati 13 and SNG 1328 are similar to this coin but with a female head on the obverse and the pellet above the dog on the reverse. Calciati 13A has a male head, but the dog faces left. The only reference that records this specific type is the Handbook of Greek Coins. The photographed HGC coin shares the same reverse die with our coin, but is incorrectly described as a hexantes or dionkia with an additional (second) pellet above. Despite the lack of examples in the primary references (and we checked more than listed here), there are several examples online.
SH90697. Bronze onkia, HGC 2 315 (R1) corr. (same rev. die); Calciati I p. 283, 13A var. (hound left, etc.); SNG III additions pl. 42, 1328 var. (pellet above, etc.), Choice VF, superb style, weak reverse legend, weight 3.094 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 90o, Eryx mint, c. 400 - 390 B.C.; obverse beardless, young male head right; reverse EP-YKIN-O-N, dog standing right, head turned back, right foreleg on hare on its back below, pellet right; very rare; $560.00 (€492.80)

Himera, Sicily, 430 - 420 B.C.

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The style of the early coinage of Himera varied greatly. This coin has the most cartoon-like style. Calciati describes the beveled flan as a "truncated cone."
SH68313. Bronze tetras, Calciati I p. 32, 18; SNG Cop 315; SNG ANS 181; SNG Morcom 596; HGC 2 467 (R1), VF, smoothing, weight 11.965 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 135o, Himera mint, 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing gorgoneion with cartoon-like style, protruding tongue, curly hair with no part, almond eyes, and pellet nostrils; reverse three pellets, within round incuse; rare; $530.00 (€466.40)

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. The Carthaginians 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, but when Syracuse attacked a second time, the Mamertines petitioned the Roman Republic for aid. Although initially reluctant, to limit Carthaginian power, Rome allied with the Mamertines. 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.
SH70588. Bronze tetras, HGC 2 840 (R1, same dies); Caltabiano 751 - 752 (D20/-); Calciati I p. 52, 16; SNG Cop 421; SNG München 674; SNG ANS -; BMC Sicily -, Choice VF, nice style, nice strike, nice patina, weight 5.033 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 135o, 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; $480.00 (€422.40)

The Sileraioi, Sicily, c. 357 - 330 B.C.

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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; reverse SIL (retrograde, upward behind), warrior advancing right, spear in right hand, shield in left; rare; $400.00 (€352.00)

Piakos, Sicily, c. 425 - 400 B.C.

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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; $400.00 (€352.00)

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 head-dress, 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; $400.00 (€352.00)

Syracuse, Sicily, c. 415 B.C.; Signed by Phrygillos

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Superb style and signed by the master Phrygillos. 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?)." The signature on this coin is clear.
GI74382. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati p. 47, 19 fr 4/7 (same dies); SNG ANS 412; HGC 2 1479 (S); SNG Cop -; BMC Sicily -, gVF, weight 3.768 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 240o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 B.C.; obverse Head of Arethusa left, hair in sphendone inscribed ΦPI, downward dolphin behind; reverse ΣY−PA, wheel of four spokes, dolphin in each of the lower quarters; $400.00 (€352.00)




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Catalog current as of Thursday, October 08, 2015.
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Sicilian Greek Coins