Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 72

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Lot 4023

Sicily, Syrakuse. Dionysios I, 405-367 BC. Silver Dekadrachm (42.39g) struck 405-400 BC. Unsigned dies by Euainetos. Charioteer driving galloping quadriga left, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left; Nike (Victory) flying right above to crown the charioteer; below, military harness, shield, greaves, cuirass and Attic helmet, connected by a horizontal spear. Reverse: Head of Arethusa left wreathed in grain-ears, wearing a triple-pendant earring and a necklace; four dolphins swim around her. Gallatin, obv. R.III, rev. C.II; Rizzo pl. LIV, 8 (Boston MFA 421); Hirmer pl. 34, 104. A lovely example and nicely toned. Choice Very Fine.

The Syrakusan dekadrachms produced at the close of the fifth century BC by masters such as Kimon and Euainetos have long been the icons of ancient Greek numismatics, earning as British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans said "the admiration of the ancient and modern world." "Italian pottery cups," notes Kraay (ACGC, p.232), "have a facsimile [of the dekadrachm] set in the base, no doubt imitating silver vessels, which incorporated actual decadrachms." The treatment of Arethusa on these coins has become a definition of classical beauty, while the coins' medallic size and stately artistry have made them centerpieces of Greek collections.

Like Syrakusan gold fractions struck at about the same time, these high-value coins were issued for some extraordinary purpose. Most likely this would be war, issued to provide financial support for mercenary troops, ships and supplies to wage battle, especially during this period against Carthage. The coin's beauty and artistry, meanwhile, were bold symbols of the glory of Syrakuse, a message that would be broadcast to allies and enemies alike.
Estimated Value $25,000 - 30,000.
Wolfen Family Foundation; Ex Bank Leu, sale 15, Zürich (4-5 May 1976), lot 119; Dr. J.H. Judd Collection, Hess-Leu sale 1957, lot 113; Baron v. Schennis Collection, Hirsch, sale 33 (1913), lot 464.

Realized $34,500

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