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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

 
90020028
Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 28. Estimate CHF9000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF17500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Late Third Democracy or early in the reign of Agathocles . Drachm (Silver, 4.12 g 2), struck circa 317/316. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Laureate head of the youthful Ares to left; behind, Palladion. Rev. Triskeles of three human legs with winged feet; at the center, gorgoneion. Basel 503. BMC 353. Jameson 864 = KF 229 (this coin). Giesecke, Sicilia Numismatica pl. 19, 13 (same dies). Extremely rare, one of perhaps five known examples. Toned and of superb style. Very fine.


From the collections of A. Moretti, Triton II, 1 December 1998, 261, C. Gillet (”Kunstfreund”), Bank Leu/Münzen und Medaillen, 28 May 1974, 229, R. Jameson 864 and Sir Arthur J. Evans.

One of the great rarities of the Syracusan series, only a collector like A. Moretti is ever likely to have owned two of them! There is a great controversy over whether these drachms were issued at the very end of the Third Democracy in Syracuse, or at the beginning of the rule of Agathocles, perhaps when he was just starting to consolidate his power. In fact, the triskeles was a favorite symbol of Agathocles since it recalled the mythological name for Sicily, Trinakria; he used it as an emblem of his power over the island. The five known examples of this type are: 1) the present piece, ex Moretti, Jameson and Evans; 2) Giesecke, Sicilia Numismatica pl. 19, 13 = Hirsch XVI (1906), 311; 3) BMC 353; 4) NAC 13, 503 - ex Moretti; and 5) Imhoof-Blumer, MG p. 32, 73. These five coins were apparently struck using at least two pairs of dies: 1 and 2 were struck from one set (though this was not realized by the erudite cataloguer of the KF sale due to the poor condition of the Giesecke example - corroded and with a serious flan crack), and the BM and second Moretti piece in NAC 13 from another (the piece published by Imhoof-Blumer remains to be examined). In many ways it is the most enigmatic of all Syracusan issues.