|Sale: Triton XIII, Lot: 27. Estimate $30000.
Closing Date: Monday, 4 January 2010.
Sold For $24000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Circa 415/0-387 BC. AR Tetradrachm (17.38 g, 1h). Facing lion’s head / Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath; olive sprig behind, PHΓINON before. Herzfelder 89 (D54a/R76); HN Italy 2496; SNG ANS 661 (same obv. die); SNG Lloyd 698; Gulbenkian 141 (same dies); SNG Spencer 24 (same dies). EF, toned, a hint of die rust on obverse. Struck in high relief, and of beautiful classical style.
Ex New York Sale XIV (10 January 2007), lot 19; P.M. Suter Collection (Münzen und Medaillen 89, 14 June 2000), lot 22; Leu 50 (25 April 1990), lot 39.
This issue of coinage corresponds to quite an eventful period in the history of Rhegion. Around 415/0 BC, the reverse type on the tetradrachms changed from a seated figure to a portrait of Apollo. It is thought that this significant change was precipitated by a change in regime in the city. In the mid 5th century, Rhegion was a steadfast supporter of Athenian interests in Magna Graecia, especially in 427 BC, when Rhegion provided its port as a base from which Athens could operate. By the time of the Athenian Expedition in 415 BC, however, Rhegion refused to participate, and remained neutral, an act that effectively blocked Athens' access to the straits. The timing of the beginning of this issue roughly coincides with this event. Region's ambivalence towards Athens, though, did not translate into support for the interests of Syracuse. Perhaps wishing to distance itself from the turmoil in Sicily, Rhegion allied itself with the other major cities of southern Italy in a coalition against Dionysios I, the tyrant of Syracuse. Unfortunately, this decision proved disastrous, as Dionysios invaded Bruttium, and fought against the cities from 399-386 BC, with the result that Rhegion was reduced to near nonexistence until it was re-founded by Dionysios II in 360 BC. It is uncertain, but given the circumstances, it is not unlikely that the bountiful tetradrachm coinage struck during this period was often used to finance military activity. In any event, these coins exemplify the high aesthetic standard of the Classical Period that is common to the coins of Magna Graecia at this time. The facing lion head is rendered in a bold, detailed manner, as is the head of Apollo, carefully depicted as a serene deity. What separates these coins from their contemporaries is the depth of the relief, which was extraordinarily high. The effect is particularly striking on the obverse, where the lion head has an exceptional three-dimensional quality that is unsurpassed.