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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, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.
"The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. Exemplars signed by the great master are known. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with several exemplars signed E. However, stylistic evidence of many exemplars reveals such substantial differences the intervention of other engravers seems to be certain, while the discovery of traces of signature not completely legible but certainly not pointing to Exakestidas confirm the assumption." - Calciati p. 59GB67645. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Morcom -, aVF, a little rough, weight 1.847 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obversehead of nymph facing slightly left, wearing necklace; reverse octopus; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
This is an odd depiction of Arethusa, apparently without earrings or a necklace, and with locks of hair appearing like horns. She appears more like a river-god than a fountain nymph. The octopus seems upside down to us, but this is how they are photographed in Calciati.GB67655. Bronze onkia, Calciati II p. 30, 10/7; SNG ANS 384; HGC 2 1434 (R1); SNG Cop -, aVF, centered, green patina, pitting, weight 1.235 g, maximum diameter 12.3 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 435 - 415 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of Arethusa right, no earring or necklace, dolphin downward behind; reverse octopus, pellet between tentacles, within round incuse; rare; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.
With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.GB59013. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 291, 151 Ds 8 Rs 50, gF, weight 7.251 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, 305 - 295 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of young Herakles right, wearing taenia (head band), bow behind head; reverselion walking right, club above, flaming torch in ex; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Hiketas, 288 - 279 B.C.
Hicetas was tyrant of Syracuse for about nine years. The only recorded events during his rule are his victory over Phintias, tyrant of Agrigentum, and his defeat to the Carthaginians at the river Terias. He was expelled from Syracuse by Thynion shortly before Pyrrhus arrived in Sicily.GB90325. Bronze hemilitron, cf. Calciati p. 263, 125; HGC 2 1466 (S), SNG Cop 804; SNG ANS 776 ff. (various control symbols), aVF, nice green patina, weight 6.767 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, 287 - 283 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (off flan), head of Kore-Persephone left, wreathed in grain; reverseNike driving galloping biga right, A(?) in exergue (off flan); scarce; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Panormos, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 241 - 70 B.C.
In 254 B.C. Panormus was captured by the Romans. It retained its municipal freedom, and remained one of the principal cities of Sicily. It continued to issue bronze coins, bearing the names of various resident magistrates, and following the Roman system. Under Augustus, Panormus received a Roman colony.GI75169. Bronze AE 12, Calciati I p. 338, 41; SNG ANS 580; SNG Cop 545; SNG München 778; BMC Sicily p. 123, 23; HGC 2 1085 (S), VF, weight 1.979 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, die axis 150o, Panormos (Palermo, Sicily) mint, Roman rule, c. 241 - 70 B.C.; obversehead of Demeter left, veiled and wreathed in grain, plow(?) behind; reverse war galley prow right, Panormos Greek monogram above; scarce; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.
Catania, on the east coast of Sicily between Messina and Syracuse, has been repeatedly damaged and even destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes and eruptions from Mount Etna, yet it still prospers. Today, Catania is an economic, tourist, and education center, and an important hub of industry, nicknamed the "European Silicon Valley."GB65645. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 112, 26; SNG ANS 1284; SNG Cop 194; BMC Sicily p. 52, 66 (hexas), VF, nice for the type, green patina, weight 3.590 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 0o, Katane mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, monogram behind neck; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, holding dove in extended right, II (2 chalkoi) right; rare; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 410 B.C.
Clearly this coin has been smoothed. The extraordinary detail seems impossible based on the corrosion; however, much of the detail does appear to be original. Tooling was done with such skill that it is very difficult to determine how much the detail has been enhanced.GB68292. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 181.5; BMC Sicily p. 39, 34; SNG München 409; Calciati III p. 49, 7; SNG Cop 167; SNG ANS 1224; HGC 2 546, VF, smoothing and light(?) tooling, weight 4.051 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 270o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obversegorgoneion, protruding tongue, smooth neat hair tied with ribbon, symmetrical locks on forehead; reverse owl standing right on right leg, head facing, lizard in left claw, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Himera, Sicily, c. 420 - 409 B.C.
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.GB67658. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 42, 31; SNG ANS 1339; Laffaille 149; SNG Cop -, aF, weight 2.200 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 90o, Himera mint, c. 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, three pellets under goat between legs; reverse [IMEΠAION], Nike flying left, apluster with dangling fillets in extended right, fold of long chiton in left; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Agathocles, 317 - 289 B.C.
In 310 B.C., Agathokles, tyrant of Syracuse, defeated and besieged by Carthage, took the desperate resolve of breaking through the blockade and attacking the enemy in Africa. After several victories he was completely defeated in 306 B.C. and fled secretly back to Sicily. After concluding peace, Agathocles styled himself king of Sicily, and established rule over the Greek cities of the island.SH69733. Bronze AE 16, Calciati II p. 239, 110 Ds11 Rl 38 (astragalus); SNG Cop 762 (astragalus?); SNG München 1245 (lionhead) (BMC 356 ff, Lindgren II 570v ), gF, superbstyle, weight 3.104 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 317 - 310 B.C.; obversehead of Kore-Persephone left, wreathed in grain, lion's head leftlion's head left (or astragalus) behind neck; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (in exergue), bull butting left, E/Λ monogram above; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.
"The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. Exemplars signed by the great master are known. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with several exemplars signed E. However, stylistic evidence of many exemplars reveals such substantial differences the intervention of other engravers seems to be certain, while the discovery of traces of signature not completely legible but certainly not pointing to Exakestidas confirm the assumption." - Calciati p. 59GB59265. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Morcom -, VF, rough green patina, weight 1.852 g, maximum diameter 13.6 mm, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 400 B.C.; obversehead of nymph facing slightly left, wearing neck; reverse octopus; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
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