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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Dies Influenced by the Sicilian Masters

Sale: Triton XIII, Lot: 49. Estimate $10000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 4 January 2010. 
Sold For $17000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Panormos (as Ziz). Circa 405-380 BC. AR Tetradrachm (17.17 g, 3h). Charioteer, holding kentron in left hand, reins in both, driving fast quadriga right; above, Nike flying left, crowning charioteer with wreath she holds with both hands; in exergue, ketos right and Punic ṢYṢ / Head of female left, wearing triple-pendant earring and necklace; three dolphins around. Jenkins, Punic 30 (O7/R26); SNG ANS 538 (same obv. die); SNG Lloyd 1583 (same dies); Rizzo pl. LXIV, 27. Superb EF, wonderfully toned. Fine style and struck from dies influenced by the Sicilian masters.

Ex Pierre Arnaud Collection (Hess-Divo 307, 8 June 2007), lot 1064 (hammer 36,000 CHF); Münzen und Medaillen AG 79 (28 February 1994), lot 147.

The designs on Siculo-Punic coinages of the late 5th and early 4th centuries BC characteristically are drawn from Sicilian prototypes, principally from tetradrachms and dekadrachms of Syracuse. This issue of Panormos is of special interest in that regard. Jenkins considers the female head on the reverse to be “a free adaption from the type of Kimon’s decadrachms” with a result that, on this particular die, “admittedly seems remote from Kimon.” Considering that later reverse dies in this series closely approximate the work of Kimon, this connection seems beyond dispute.

Jenkins’ views on the prototype for the obverse die, however, should be reconsidered. He suggests the chariot scene is directly copied from the Kimonian type, and that the hippocamp in the exergue may be indirectly inspired by the last issue of Himera or by the ketos of earlier Syracusan coinage. The prototype for this obverse, however, is not so remote: it is the work of the artist “Euth...”, whose masterful obverse die at Syracuse (cf. Tudeer obverse die 15, used with issues 46-48) seems to be the only one he signed.

Every significant element of the Syracusan prototype is preserved on this Punic copy, including the vigorous style and inventive composition. Only details are changed: the charioteer is no longer winged; in the exergue the elaborate skylla, who holds a trident and captures a fish, is replaced with a hippocamp, and the three letters representing the first syllable of the artist’s signature are replaced with the Punic ethnic “sys” or “ziz”. Considering that both Syracusan prototypes date to the last decade of the 5th century BC, it makes sense that this Panormos issue (which is either contemporary, or at most a decade or so later) would find inspiration in the two important Syracusan issues.