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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.
Carthage, Zeugitana, NorthAfrica, Early 3rd Century B.C.
Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse, died in 289 B.C. He restored the Syracusan democracy on his death bed, stating that he did not want his sons to succeed him as king. The following year, some of his disbanded mercenaries, calling themselves Mamertines (Sons of Mars), seized Messana in northeast Sicily. The city became a base from which they ravaged the Sicilian countryside. Syracuse was weakened by his loss and Carthage began a renewal of their power in Sicily.GB76852. Bronze AE 17, Viola CNP 94, Alexandropoulos 22, HGC 2 1674 (S), Müller Afrique 315, Weber III 8486, SNG CopVIII 126, SGCV II 6530, BMC Sicily -, F, well centered, green patina, areas of corrosion, weight 3.626 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 90o, Carthage or uncertain Sicilian mint, early 3rd century B.C.; obverse date palm tree with two bunches of hanging fruit, no legend, symbols or monogram; reverse unbridled horse standing right, head turned back looking left, no legend, symbols or monogram; scarce; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.
Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.GB77981. Bronze tetras, SNG Cop 850; Calciati p. 398, 197 R1 19 (described as O−Φ); BMC Sicily p. 218, 609 (same); HGC 2 1550 (S), aVF, nice style, well centered, weight 6.941 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 45o, Syracuse mint, c. 268 - 218 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon left; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphins at sides, IEPΩ−NOΣ over Θ − Φ in lower field divided by shank; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Sicily or Sardinia, Carthaginian Rule, c. 300 - 264 B.C.
Calciati notes that although this type is often attributed to Sardina, the frequency of finds in Sicily demonstrates that it was also minted there. GB63621. Bronze AE 19, Calciati III p. 395, 21; SNG Cop 173, VF, weight 5.270 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 90o, Sicily or Sardinia mint, c. 300 - 290(?) B.C.; obversehead of Tanit left, hair wreathed with grain, wearing earring and necklace; reversehead and neck of horse right, palm tree right; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
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; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
Leontini, Sicily, c. 476 - 455 B.C.
Leontini was founded by colonists from Naxos in 729 B.C. Six miles inland, it is the only Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, Originally held by the Sicels, the site was seized by the Greeks to gain control of the fertile plain to the north.GS67480. Silver hemilitra, SNG München 548; Boehringer Leontini B; cf. HGC 2 688 (R2, obol); SNG ANS 216 (obol, finer style); BMC Sicily p. 88, 22 (same); SNG Cop 342 (same), VF, weight 0.282 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 225o, Leontini (or unofficial?) mint, c. 476 - 466 B.C.; obverse crude facing lion scalp, dot border; reverseLE/ON (retrograde), barley grain, within shallow round incuse; very rare; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
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; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Agathocles, 317 - 289 B.C.
In 311 B.C., Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse, invaded the Carthaginian holdings on Sicily and laid siege to Akragas. Hamilcar led the Carthaginian response, and by 310 controlled almost all of Sicily and laid siege to Syracuse itself. In desperation, Agathocles secretly led an expedition of 14,000 men to Africa, hoping to save his rule by leading a counterstrike against Carthage itself. Carthage was forced to recall Hamilcar and most of his army from Sicily. Agathocles was eventually defeated in 307 B.C., but he escaped back to Sicily and negotiated a peace which maintained Syracuse as a stronghold of Greek power in Sicily. GB90149. Bronze AE 24, cf. Calciati II p. 218, 96 DS 114 R1 4 (amphora); BMC Sicily p. 194, 358 (barley kernel); SNG Cop 757 (same); SNG ANS 567 (trophy); SNG München -, aVF, superb classical style, old light scratches, weight 10.039 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 317 - 289 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Kore left, wreathed with grain, amphora(?) behind; reverse bull butting left, dolphin over NK monogram above, dolphin below; ex Ancient Imports; ex Coin Galleries mail bid, 14 Nov 1984, part of lot 327; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Roman Rule, 212 - c. 189 B.C.
A simulacrum is a sculpture of a person or a god, sometimes without detail forming only a vague semblance. GI74374. Bronze AE 25, Calciati II p. 428, 230; SNG Cop 897; SNG ANS 1059; SNG Morcom 835, F/aF, well centered, small flan cracks, weight 14.806 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, 212 - c. 189 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reversesimulacrum in slow quadriga right, ΣYPAKO/ΣION divided in two lines, one above and one below; rare; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
"Kainon," Sicily, c. 367 - 340 B.C.
This issue, assigned to Alaisa in many references, was perhaps produced by Thracian mercenaries operating in Sicily in the 4th century B.C.GI72231. Bronze tetras, Calciati I p. 249, 1; SNG Cop 133 (Alaesa); SNG München 213 (Alaisa); BMC Sicily p. 29, 3 (Alaesa?); SGCV I 1048 (Alaisa); HGC 2 509, aVF, weight 9.118 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain mint, c. 367 - 340 B.C.; obversegriffin springing left, wings open, rope-like exergue line (clouds?); reverse horse prancing left, loose reigns flying behind, KAINON in exergue; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
The Mamertini, Sicily, 220 - 200 B.C.
Mamertini or "Children of Mars" were a band of Campanian (or Samnite) mercenaries who, about 289 B.C., seized Messana at the north-east corner of Sicily, after having been hired by Agathocles to defend it. The Mamertines held Messana for over 20 years, converting it from a town of farmers and traders to a raiding base for pirates on land and sea. In 265 B.C., after Hiero of Syracuse had defeated them and besieged Messana, the Mamertines appealed to Carthage for aid. Soon after they appealed to Rome to rid them of the Carthaginians. The Mamertini then disappear from history, except even centuries later the inhabitants of Messana were called Mamertines. "Mamertine wine" from the vineyards of north-eastern tip of Sicily was the favorite of Julius Caesar and he made it popular after serving it at a feast to celebrate his third consulship.GI75670. Bronze pentachalkia, Calciati p, 104, 27; SNG ANS 432; SNG München 707; SNG Cop 450; BMC Sicily p. 112, 37; HGC 2 851 (R1), aF, weight 10.899 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 180o, Messana (Messina, Sicily, Italy) mint, 220 - 200 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, long hair, kithara behind; reverse MAMEPTINΩN, warrior standing facing, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, sword in sheath with strap in right, inverted spear vertical in left, grounded shield leaning against spear, Π (mark of value) right; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
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