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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, Hieron I, c. 478 - 467 B.C.

|Syracuse|, |Syracuse,| |Sicily,| |Hieron| |I,| |c.| |478| |-| |467| || |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Hieron I, the brother of Gelon, was tyrant of Syracuse, Sicily, 478 - 467 B.C. He greatly increased the power of Syracuse. He removed the inhabitants of Naxos and Catania to Leontini, peopled Catania (which he renamed Aetna) with Dorians. He defeated the Etruscans and Carthaginians at the Battle of Cumae (474 B.C.), by which he saved the Greeks of Campania from Etruscan domination. He was a liberal patron of literature and culture. He established the first secret police in Greek history. He was an active participant in panhellenic athletic contests, winning several horse and chariot races. He died at Catania in 467 and was buried there. His grave was destroyed when the former inhabitants of Catania returned.
SH98005. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer series XI, 244 (V110/R165); HGC 2 1307, aVF, centered on a tight flan, toned, light deposits, scratches and marks, uneven strike, die wear, pre-strike casting sprues, weight 17.379 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, c. 475 - 470 B.C.; obverse slow quadriga driven right by bearded male charioteer, kentron in right hand and reins in left hand, Nike above flying right crowning horses; reverse ΣVRAKOΣION (clockwise on right), head of Arethousa right, hair turned up in a krobylos, wearing a pearl diadem earring and necklace, four dolphins around; from the CEB Collection, ex Frank L. Kovacs; $1250.00 (€1025.00)


Katane, Sicily, c. 415 - 404 B.C.

|Katane|, |Katane,| |Sicily,| |c.| |415| |-| |404| |B.C.||tetras|
Katane was captured by Dionysios of Syracuse in 403 B.C., who sold the population into slavery and resettled the city with Campanian mercenaries. The city submitted to Rome during the First Punic war.
GI96877. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 91, 1; SNG ANS 1272; BMC Sicily p. 50, 51; HGC 2 607 (S); SNG Cop -; SNG Mun -, VF, nice green patina, attractive style, centered on a tight flan, light marks, scattered small pits, weight 1.668 g, maximum diameter 13.0 mm, die axis 270o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 415 - 404 B.C.; obverse AMENANOΣ (clockwise on left), young head of river-god Amenanos left, with horns and wavy hair; reverse winged thunderbolt, wings open, K-A flanking under wings, three small pellets around (two above wings, one right); scarce; $260.00 (€213.20)


Messana, Sicily, The Mamertini, 220 - 200 B.C.

|Messana|, |Messana,| |Sicily,| |The| |Mamertini,| |220| |-| |200| |B.C.||pentachalkia|
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.
GI93812. Bronze pentachalkia, Calciati p, 104, 27; SNG ANS 432; SNG Munchen 707; SNG Cop 450; BMC Sicily p. 112, 37; HGC 2 851 (R1), F, green patina, porosity, area of corrosion on obverse, legend not fully struck, obverse edge beveled, small edge cracks, weight 8.686 g, maximum diameter 26.3 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 hand, inverted spear vertical in left hand, grounded shield leaning against spear, Π (mark of value) upper right; from the Errett Bishop Collection; rare; $130.00 (€106.60)


"Kainon," Sicily, c. 367 - 340 B.C.

|Other| |Sicily|, |"Kainon,"| |Sicily,| |c.| |367| |-| |340| |B.C.||tetras|
This issue, assigned to Alaisa in many references, was perhaps produced by Thracian mercenaries operating in Sicily in the 4th century B.C.
GI93805. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 252, 10; SNG Cop 134 (Alaesa); SNG Munchen 218 (Alaisa); SNG ANS 1178 (Alaesa); BMC Sicily p. 29, 8 (Alaesa); HGC 2 509, aVF, dark green patina with earthen highlights, flatly struck, off center on a broad flan, edge splits, weight 9.623 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, uncertain mint, c. 367 - 340 B.C.; obverse griffin springing left, wings open, grasshopper left below; reverse horse prancing left, loose reins flying behind, KAINON in exergue, star with eight rays around a central pellet above; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $120.00 (€98.40)


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

|Other| |Sicily|, |The| |Sileraioi,| |Sicily,| |c.| |357| |-| |330| |B.C.|
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 Munchen -; 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; $110.00 (€90.20)


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

|Syracuse|, |Syracuse,| |Sicily,| |Agathokles,| |317| |-| |289| |B.C.||litra|
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.
GI93452. Bronze litra, cf. Calciati II p. 287, 150; BMC Sicily p. 196, 389; SNG ANS 740; SNG Cop 767 ff.; HGC 2 1465 (R1), aVF, well centered, a little rough, weight 8.083 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 305 - 295 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of young Herakles left, wearing taenia; reverse lion walking right, right foreleg raised, club right above; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $110.00 (€90.20)


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D., Sala, Lydia

|Other| |Lydia|, |Geta,| |209| |-| |c.| |26| |December| |211| |A.D.,| |Sala,| |Lydia||assarion|
 
RP97254. Bronze assarion, GRPC Lydia III 94; BMC Lydia p. 234, 49; SNG Cop 447; Winterthur 3905; SNG Tübingen 3772 var. (obverse legend ends KA), VF, green patina with attractive highlighting deposits, scattered porosity, flan adjustment marks, weight 5.121 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 180o, Sala (Tepecik, Turkey) mint, magistrate Sulla, as caesar, 198 - 209; obverse ΠO CEΠT- ΓETAC K, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse EΠI CYΛΛA CAΛHNΩN, Zeus Lydios standing slightly left, head left, wearing long chiton and himation, eagle in extended right hand, left hand resting on long vertical scepter; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 6 (9 Dec 2018), lot 551; $90.00 (€73.80)


Uncertain City (Panormos?), Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 211 - 190 B.C.

|Roman| |Italy| |&| |Sicily|, |Uncertain| |City| |(Panormos?),| |Sicily,| |Roman| |Rule,| |c.| |211| |-| |190| |B.C.||triens|
In 254 B.C. Panormus was captured by the Romans. It retained its municipal freedom, and remained for many years 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.
GI89312. Bronze triens, Semuncial standard; Calciati I p. 365, 205 (Panormos); SNG Munchen 835 (Panormos); HGC 2 1691 (R1, uncertain Romano-Sicilian); SNG Cop -, aVF, off center but types on flan, a little rough, weight 3.239 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain Romano-Sicilian mint, c. 211 - 190 B.C.; obverse veiled and draped bust of Demeter-Ceres left, small cornucopia behind neck; reverse double cornucopia, overflowing with bunches of grapes, tied with fillets, four pellets (mark of value) in a vertical line to left; rare; $80.00 (€65.60)


Syracuse, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.

|Syracuse|, |Syracuse,| |Sicily,| |Roman| |Rule,| |c.| |212| |-| |133| |B.C.||AE| |15|
Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General Marcus Claudius 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.
GI93809. Bronze AE 15, Calciati II p. 422, 221; SNG ANS 1080; SNG Cop 895; SNG Munchen 1463; HGC 2 1516 (R1); Grose 2975, F, well centered, dark patina, porosity/corrosion, light earthen deposits, weight 2.684 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 212 - 180 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, with short hair, somewhat archaic style; reverse vertical long torch, ΣYP-AKO/ΣI-ΩN in two divided lines across lower field; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $60.00 (€49.20)










REFERENCES|

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