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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, The Third Democracy, c. 334 - 317 B.C.
Timoleon established a democracy in 345 B.C. and after defeating the Carthaginians in 339 B.C., he retired into private life without assuming any title or office. He went blind before his death. When important issues were discussed he was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted. After his death, the struggle for control of the city restarted, ending with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power with a coup in 317 B.C.GI79589. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 199, 85; BMC Sicily p. 191, 331; SNG Cop 738; SNG ANS 646 - 647 (310 - 305 B.C.); HGC 2, 1486 (S, 310 - 305 B.C.), F, centered on a tight flan, flat centers, light corrosion, weight 5.191 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 334 - 317 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, laureate head of Apollo left; reverse Pegasos with pointed wing flying to left, ∆ below; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Akragas, Sicily, c. 413 - 406 B.C.
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.GI83604. Silver hemidrachm, SNG Cop 59, SNG ANS 1010, HGC 2 105 (R1), SNG Munchen -, F, tight flan, etched surfaces, grainy surfaces, weight 1.86 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 413 - 406 B.C.; obverseeagle right, wings open, head lowered, holding supine hare right in talons; reverse crab seen from above, fish right below; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
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.GI84568. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 49, 19; SNG Cop 696; SNG ANS 405; SNG Morcom 682; SNG Munchen 1103; HGC 2 1479 (S), VF, green patina, attractive classical style, pitting, very unusual irregular flan, weight 3.691 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 45o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 - 405 B.C.; obversehead of nymph Arethusa left, hair bound in ampyx and sphendone; reverse wheel with four spokes, ΣY−PA in upper half divided by spoke, two dolphins facing down and inward between the lower spokes; ex-Frank L. Kovacs; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
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. 59GB68426. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Munchen 1105; HGC 2 1432 (R1, Second Democracy, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Morcom -, VF, nice green patina, edge chips, weight 1.431 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 400 B.C.; obversehead of nymph facing slightly left, wearing necklace; reverse octopus; $85.00 SALE PRICE $76.50
Soloi, Sicily, c. 300 - 254 B.C.
GB65627. Bronze AE 16, Calciati I, p. 312, 16; SNG ANS 744, F, weight 1.939 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 45o, Soloi mint, c. 300 - 254 B.C.; obverse short-bearded male (Herakles?) head right, wearing hoop earring; reverse free horse galloping right; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
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.GS65784. Silver hemilitra, SNG Munchen 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), aVF, toned, crude style (perhaps a barbaric imitative), weight 0.280 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 0o, 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; from the old stock of a retiring Ohio dealer acquired by Forum in 2012; very rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
The Mamertini, Sicily, c. 200 - 35 B.C.
Mamertini or "children of Mars," was the name taken by a band of Campanian (or Samnite) freebooters who about 289 B.C. seized the Greek colony of Messana at the north-east corner of Sicily, after having been hired by Agathocles to defend it (Polyb. 1. 7. 2). - 1911 Encyclopedia BritannicaGB70788. Bronze tetras, Calciati I p. 111, 46 Ds 1 - RS 2; SNG ANS 455 - 4555 var. (plectrum vice tripod); SNG Cop 468 var. (same), VF, pale green patina, edge chips, weight 3.640 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 90o, Messana mint, c. 200 - 35 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; tripod (control symbol) behind; reverse MAMEPTINΩN, Nike standing left, wreath extended in right, palm in left, III (mark of value) in lower left field; ex CNG auction 219 (30 Sep 2009), lot 187; ex D. Alighieri Collection; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
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 Munchen 778; BMC Sicily p. 123, 23; HGC 2 1085 (S), VF, weight 1.979 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, die axis 150o, Panormus (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) 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; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
Ziz (Panormos), Punic Sicily, c. 405 - 380 B.C.
Some authorities have identified the male head on the obverse as Apollo. Indeed, on some examples the head does resemble other depictions of the youthful sun god, but on other examples the god is horned. On this coin the head seems to better resemble traditional depictions of Herakles or Baal. The type usually has the Punic ethnic above the bull. Sometimes it is below. Most likely it should be above on this coin but is merely unstruck.GS66771. Silver obol, cf. Jenkins Punic (SNR 50) 14; BMC Sicily p. 249, 27; SNG ANS 551; SGCV I 889 (all w/ Punic ethnic "sys" above bull), aVF, weight 0.547 g, maximum diameter 9.14 mm, die axis 45o, Ziz (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 405 - 380 B.C.; obverse male head left; reverseMan-faced bull advancing left, head turned facing; $75.00 SALE PRICE $67.50
Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.
In 212 B.C., after a two-year siege, despite defenses designed by the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, the Roman general MarcusClaudius Marcellus forced his way into Syracuse. Although Marcellus wished to spare the Syracusans, he was unable to stop his soldiers from sacking the city. Archimedes was killed. Marcellus carried off the art treasures of Syracuse to Rome, the first recorded instance of a practice which was to become common. GB66786. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 110, 25; SNG ANS 1278; SNG Morcom 563; HGC 2 612 (R1); BMC Sicily p. 51, 65 corr.; SNG Cop -, VF, weight 3.126 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 315o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, holding dove in extended right, II (2 chalkoi) right; $75.00 SALE PRICE $67.50
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