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Research Coins: Feature Auction


From the First Coinage at Tarentum

Triton XXII, Lot: 5. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $19000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CALABRIA, Tarentum. Circa 510-500 BC. AR Nomos (22.5mm, 8.01 g, 11h). Taras, nude, riding dolphin right, extending left hand, right hand resting on dolphin’s back; TARAS (retrograde) to left, scallop shell below, dot-and-cable border around / Incuse of obverse type; [T]ARA[S] in relief to right, radiate border around. Fischer-Bossert Group 1, – (V7/R8 – an unlisted die combination); Vlasto 68 = Kraay & Hirmer 294 (same obv. die); HN Italy 826; SNG BN 1573–4 (same rev. die); SNG Lloyd 108 (same obv. die). VF, even light gray toning, with iridescence around the devices.

From the Gasvoda Collection. Ex Golden Horn Collection (Stack’s, 12 January 2009), lot 2053; Lawrence R. Stack Collection (Stack’s, 14 January 2008), lot 2007.

From the consignor: The city of Tarentum was founded in the late 8th century BC by Spartan colonists on the north coast of the gulf of the same name, on a rocky islet at the entrance to the only secure harbor. It was Sparta's only colony and maintained close relations with the mother city. It was not until late in the 6th century that Tarentum felt the need to produce local coinage. It did so by copying the broad, thin fabric with incuse reverse type already in use by Metapontum, Sybaris, Poseidonia, Kaulonia, and Kroton. Tarentum quickly grew in power and wealth. Blessed with fertile land, it became famous for olives and sheep. It possessed a fine harbor, great fisheries and profitable exports of wool, purple, and pottery. The official founder of the city was believed to be the Spartan leader Phalanthos. Ancient tradition, however, tells how Taras, the son of Poseidon, was miraculously saved from a shipwreck by his father, who sent a dolphin on whose back he was carried to shore, at which spot he founded a city. At some point history and mythology merged.