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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, 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
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
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 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; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
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; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
Entella, Sicily, c. 420 - 404 B.C.
Entella was on the left bank of the river Hypsas (modern Belice), about 40 km from the mouth and nearly midway between the two seas. In 404 B.C. Campanian mercenaries, who had been in the service of Carthage, were allowed into the Entella on friendly terms. They put all the male citizens to the sword and took the city for themselves.GB65250. Bronze AE 18, Calciati I p. 317, 1; SNG Morcom 580; SNG Cop -; SNG München -, aVF, weight 3.171 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 180o, Entella mint, Sicily; obverse female head left, wearing sphendone, earring, and necklace; reverse ENTEΛ, bearded head (Zeus?) right, wearing fillet; scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysios I, 405 - 367 B.C.
This coin is overstruck on Calciati II 24 (Hemilitron, nymph head left, two leaves behind / dolphin right over scallop), HGC 2 1480 (S, c. 415 - 405 B.C.). In the standard references, the undertype is dated LATER than the over overtype. Clearly the conventionally accepted date of one type or the other, or both are wrong.GI69004. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 31, 12; HGC 2 1429 (R1, c. 435 - 415 B.C.); overstruck on Calciati II p. 55, 24 (hemilitron, nymph left / dolphin over scallop), VF, weight 2.658 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 - 390 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of nymph Arethusa left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, dolphins around; from undertype: neck from head left with two leaves behind; reverse octopus, pellet between the two tentacles opposite the head, strong but obscure undertype effects; extremely rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
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; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
"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
Syracuse, Sicily, Fifth Democracy, 214 - 212 B.C.
Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General MarcusClaudius Marcellus took Syracuse in the summer of 212 B.C. Archimedes was killed during the attack. The plundered artworks taken back to Rome from Syracuse lit the initial spark of Greek influence on Roman culture.GI74344. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 418, 209; BMC Sicily p. 225, 675; SNG ANS 1052; SNG München 1549; SNG Cop -; SGCV I -; HGC 2 -, VF, heavy patina, corrosion, rough, weight 2.294 g, maximum diameter 11.5 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 214 - 212 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon right, crescent with horns up behind; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphin downward flanking on each side, ΣYP−AKO/ΣI−ΩN in two lines in lower field divided by shank; ex David Surber Collection ; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
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