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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VIII, Lot: 90. Estimate $4000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 10 January 2005. 
Sold For $5000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Agathokles. 317-289 BC. AV Dekadrachm - 50 Litrae (4.30 gm, 6h). Struck circa 317-310 BC. Laureate head of Apollo left; S (retrograde) below / SUR-A-KO-SIWN, charioteer driving biga right, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left; triskeles oriented counterclockwise below. Bérend, l'or pl. 9, 1 var. (no S [retrograde]); SNG ANS 550; SNG Copenhagen 745 (same dies); BMC Sicily pg. 191, 337. Choice EF, some light reddish toning around devices. Rare variety with the S (retrograde) on the obverse. ($4000)

There can be little doubt that the prototype for Agathokles’ issue of gold dekadrachms is the prolific gold stater introduced by the Macedonian king Philip II and continued by his successors for at least two decades after his death, down to approximately when Agathokles came to power in Syracuse. Agathokles no doubt chose Philip’s design because it was familiar to Greek mercenaries, which he often had cause to recruit. On some of Agathokles’ coins the portrait of Apollo is highly personalized, reminiscent of the posthumous issues of Philip II on which Apollo has the features of Alexander the Great.