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The Height of Numismatic Art at Akragas

876391. Sold For $87000

SICILY, Akragas. Circa 409-406 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 17.23 g, 2h). Nike, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving fast quadriga left; above, tablet inscribed AKPAΓ/ИO-ИITИA in two lines (with the ИO- outside the tablet); club left in exergue / Two eagles standing left clutching at dead hare, the closest eagle with wings closed and head raised, the back eagle with spread wings and head down; behind them, head of bull left. Seltman, Engravers 15 (OJ/Rv); SNG ANS 1000; Rizzo pl. III, 5 (same dies); cf. BMC 55 (same obv. die); cf. de Luynes 858 (same obv. die); cf. McClean 2041 (same obv. die); Arthur Evans Collection (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 20 January 1898), lot 40 (same dies). EF, toned, minor flan flaw on obverse and reverse from overstriking. Very rare. Of great beauty and numismatic importance.

The symbols most associated with the coinage of Akragas are the eagle and the crab. Sometime after 420 BC, the Akragantines replaced the single eagle with a pair of eagles standing on a hare, the inspiration for which must have come from the Agamemnon of Aeschylus where men saw two eagles, representing Agamemnon and Menelaos, feasting upon a pregnant hare. It has always been believed that the city's dekadrachms were issued to celebrate the victory of Exainetos, an Akragantine, at the Olympic Games in 412 BC. It seems more likely, however, that they were part of the war preparations of Akragas against their enemy Carthage shortly before 406 BC. This tetradrachm is every bit the equal of the dekadrachm in terms of development of the traditional Akragantine themes and fineness of their representation.