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Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I

Lot nuber 4

CALABRIA, Tarentum. Circa 450-440 BC. AR Nomos (25mm, 8.00 g, 9h).


Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I
Lot: 4.
 Estimated: $ 3 000

Greek, Silver

Sold For $ 4 750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

CALABRIA, Tarentum. Circa 450-440 BC. AR Nomos (25mm, 8.00 g, 9h). Taras, nude, extending left hand and supporting himself with his right, riding dolphin left; retrograde Π to left, octopus below / Nude youth, holding rein in right hand and supporting himself with his left, riding horse galloping left; TA-RAΣ to right. Fischer-Bossert Group 13, 193b (V94/R138) = Gillet 68 = Vlasto 273 (this coin); HN Italy 847; SNG ANS –; SNG Lloyd 146 var. (no legend); SNG Copenhagen 800 var. (same). Attractive old collection tone, some light porosity, slightly off center, minor double strike on obverse, overstruck on uncertain type. Good VF. Extremely rare variety with ethnic on the reverse; one of only three recorded by Fischer-Bossert, and this is the only example in CoinArchives.

From the Matthew Curtis Collection. Ex William N. Rudman Collection (Triton V, 15 January 2002), lot 1035; Spink Numismatic Circular C.10 (October 1992), no. 7207; Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection (Part IV, Sotheby's New York, 19 June 1991), lot 12; Leu 18 (5 May 1977), lot 23; Charles Gillet Collection; Michel Pandely Vlasto Collection, 273.

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. The official founder of the city was believed to be the Spartan leader Phalanthos. Ancient tradition, however, tells how Taras, the son of Poseidon and a local nymph, Satyra, 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.

Blessed with fertile land, Tarentum became famous for olives and sheep. It possessed a fine harbor, great fisheries and profitable exports of wool, purple, and pottery. It adopted a democratic form of government circa 475 BC, and thereafter became the leading Greek city in southern Italy. Its success led to continual difficulties with its neighbor cities, though, and on four occasions Tarentum required expeditions from Greece to help overcome its aggressors. The last of these expeditions was led by the famed Epeirote, Pyrrhos. Following his withdrawal from the city, Tarentum was occupied by the Romans.

It was not until late in the 6th century that Tarentum felt the need to produce 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. As with many cities that began coinage at the time, the types depicted relate to the city's foundation, both in its historical and mythological forms. Taras’ prosperity is exemplified by its vast coinage, which was continuous from circa 510 BC until the end of the Second Punic War.

The final winners of all Triton XXIII lots will be determined at the live public sale that will be held on 14-15 January 2020. Triton XXIII – Session One – Greek Coinage Part I will be held Tuesday morning, 14 January 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and in person at the public auction, 22.50% for all others.