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Sale 72

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Lot 4032

Spain, Carthago Nova. The Barcids. Time of Hannibal, ca. 221-208 BC. Silver Double Shekel (14.7g). Minted at Carthago Nova, ca. 220 BC. Laureate, bearded head left of Herakles-Melqart(?), the strongly Semitic features suggesting Hamilcar Barca (father of Hannibal), with heavy, knotted club over far shoulder. Reverse: Mahout wearing long cloak and cap(?), holding goad in right hand, and riding African elephant right. CNH 13 (same dies); Gulbenkian 389 (same dies); Robinson, Essays-Mattingly, 6a (same dies). Boldly struck in high relief and well centered. A powerful portrait of the finest style of the period. Probably the finest known specimen. Superb Extremely Fine.

Rome's success in the First Punic War (241 BC) and the subsequent uprising of the former Punic allies in North Africa (the Libyan Revolt) forced the Carthaginians to reassess their formerly dominant position in the western Mediterranean region. Hamilcar Barca, a member of a noted aristocratic family of Carthage, made his eldest son Hannibal swear a sacred oath to "never be a friend of Rome." The family then moved to Spain "to call a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old." Here Hamilcar began preparations for an attack on the Roman Republic, but he was not destined to live to see the fulfillment of his plans. His son-in-law and successor Hasdrubal (228-221 BC), the founder of Carthago Nova, continued the work, and in 218/217 BC Hannibal was ready to launch the invasion into Italy. Rome was totally unprepared for a wintertime attack from the north, and, thus, the epic story of Hannibal's crossing of the Alps with a contingent of elephants has become the stuff of legend. In the ensuing fifteen-year war, Hannibal ultimately failed to bring about the destruction of the Roman Republic, but of all Rome's opponents he came closest to overthrowing the state that was to dominate the Mediterranean region over the following six hundred years. This silver double shekel is one of the rarest and most remarkable types of the Barcid coinage. The bearded head of Melkart was interpreted by Robinson as a portrait of Hamilcar, father of Hannibal and founder of the dynasty in Spain.
Estimated Value $70,000 - 80,000.
The Hunter Collection; Purchased from Ed Waddell at NYINC in 1990s.

Realized $299,000

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