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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Animals| ▸ |Octopus||View Options:  |  |  |   

Octopuses on Ancient Coins

Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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The style of the obverse die closely resembles coins signed by Phrygillos, especially his signed bronzes and tetradrachms such as Tudeer 5.
SH16523. Silver litra, SNG ANS 282, SNG Cop 676, gVF, weight 0.740 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, 415 - 405 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣION, head of nymph Arethusa right, hair bound in sphendone, dolphins around; reverse octopus; lightly toned, flan crack, some porosity, ex CNG; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Struck during the Second Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), a titanic struggle between Athens and Sparta that engulfed the entire Greek world, and that ended with the total defeat of Athens and the destruction of her naval empire. Syracuse sided with Sparta against Athens and an Athenian fleet was sent to capture the island. The Spartan general Alcibiades (a former Athenian who had fallen from grace) and a few Spartan troops inspired the Syracusans to fight and defeat the Athenians.
GB70552. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 21, 1; SNG ANS 376; SNG Cop 654; SNG Morcom 676; SNG München 1046; BMC Sicily p.163, 126; SGCV I 1184; HGC 2 1428 (S), gVF, fine style, nice green patina, weight 6.331 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, c. 425 - 420 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of nymph Arethusa right, hair drawn back and tied at crown of head, neck flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; reverse octopus, three pellets around; very scarce; SOLD


Akragas, Sicily, c. 420 - 406 B.C.

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On similar common types, the eagle is right, sometimes devouring the fish, and on the reverse the positions of octopus and conch are switched. This particular type with the eagle screaming left and the octopus to the left the conch is missing from all the references examined (Calciati, HGC 2, SNG ANS, SNG Cop, SNG Munchen, SNG Tubingen, SNG Lloyd, BMC Sicily, McClean, Weber, et al.). This coin is the only example on Coin Archives (the Savoca auction).
GB86317. Bronze hemilitron, apparently unpublished; Calciati 47 var. (conch to left); HGC 2 135 (R1) corr. (same obv. die but text says eagle right) var. (conch to left), VF, well centered, some porosity, reverse slightly rough, weight 21.219 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 90o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 406 B.C.; obverse AKP-AΓANTIN-ON, eagle standing left on fish, raising head up screaming, wings open; reverse crab from above, eel in right claw, octopus to left of conch shell below, six pellets around; ex Savoca Numismatik, auction 4 (30 Aug 2015), lot 176; extremely rare variety; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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"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. 59
GI88920. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG München 1105; HGC 2 1432 (R1, Second Democracy, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Morcom -, Choice gVF, fine classical style, well centered and struck, slight roughness, weight 2.041 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing necklace, no signature visible; reverse octopus; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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The model for the head on the obverse is derived from the facing Arethusa by Kimon. This issue is usually attributed to Exakestidas with rare examples signed E or EΞ. Stylistic differences suggest other engravers also worked the issue. This example, signed EE, is of the very finest style and clearly the work of Exakestidas. EΞ was probably intended. No other examples of the type signed EE are known to Forum.
SH83659. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG Mün 1107; HGC 2 1432 (R1, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Tüb -; SNG Morcom -, aEF, the finest style, nice green patina, light corrosion, edge flaws, weight 2.23 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing taenia, earring, and necklace, anepigraphic, EE (master engraver signature, blundered EΞ for Exakestidas) lower left below hair; reverse octopus; ex Savoca Numismatik GmbH & Co. KG, auction 6 (9 Apr 2015), lot 65; SOLD


Cyprus, c. 500 B.C.

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Cf. Numismatica Ars Classica  6/26/03 #1370 a similar VF coin with a test cut (realized 6,000 CHF, approximately $4,460) and #1369 an earlier but similar cut stater of 8.32g (realized 1500 CHF).
SH17615. Silver stater, cf. Larnaca Hoard, pl. XVI, 7; cf. Kraay 1101, F, cut fragment of about 2/3, weight 6.690 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, Cypriot mint, obverse roaring lion head right, Cypriot letters on left; reverse octopus in incuse; extremely rare; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysius I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
SH16524. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 59 ff., 29; SNG ANS 385; SNG Cop 679; SNG München 1105; HGC 2 1432 (R1, Second Democracy, 415-405 B.C.); SNG Morcom -, VF, weight 2.066 g, maximum diameter 13.0 mm, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa facing slightly left, wearing necklace; reverse octopus; ex Classical Numismatic Group; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Struck during the Second Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), a titanic struggle between Athens and Sparta that engulfed the entire Greek world, and that ended with the total defeat of Athens and the destruction of her naval empire. Syracuse sided with Sparta against Athens and an Athenian fleet was sent to capture the island. The Spartan general Alcibiades (a former Athenian who had fallen from grace) and a few Spartan troops inspired the Syracusans to fight and defeat the Athenians.
GI86623. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 21, 1; SNG ANS 376; SNG Cop 654; SNG Morcom 676; SNG München 1046; BMC Sicily p.163, 126; SGCV I 1184; HGC 2 1428 (S), VF, attractive turquoise green patina, minor bumps and marks, weight 3.208 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 425 - 420 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of nymph Arethusa right, hair drawn back and tied at crown of head, neck flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; reverse octopus, three pellets around; very scarce; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, c. 400 - 317 B.C.

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The references date this fraction c. 344 - 317 B.C., the time of Timoleon. However, given the overall style of the coin and similarity to the earlier dekadrachm, a date of c. 400 B.C. is possible. From its location, and the style of the coin, the EY could be the signature of the artist Eumenes (or Euanetos, Euth or Eukleidas). Tudeer 32 and 33 have EY on both sides, while similar style tetradrachms have the more complete signature of Eumenes. Please be cautioned that attribution to these die engravers is not accepted by the references, which identify this coin as Hellenistic.
GS16525. Silver litra, SNG Lloyd 1447 (same dies); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -, aVF, weight 0.5823 g, maximum diameter 11.6 mm, Syracuse mint, obverse head of nymph Arethusa left; EY and small lion head behind; reverse octopus; toned, well centered, large flan flaw on reverse; SOLD


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysios I, 405 - 367 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.

Calciati describes this type with an E behind the head of Arethusa; it should say behind the neck and on many examples the letter is not present.
GI76354. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 33, 14; SNG Cop 677; SNG ANS 391; SNG München 1116; HGC 2 1430 (R1, 435 - 415 B.C.), Choice VF, centered on a broad flan, dark green patina, light marks and scratches, weight 3.013 g, maximum diameter 15.4 mm, Syracuse mint, c. 400 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, wearing earring with three long pendants and wire necklace, anepigraphic; reverse octopus, no pellets, linear border; scarce; SOLD




  




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Catalog current as of Friday, December 13, 2019.
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Octopus