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Electronic Auction 520

Lot nuber 33

SICILY, Syracuse. Timoleon and the Third Democracy. 344-317 BC. AR Drachm (13mm, 2.50 g, 11h). In the name of the Sikeliotes. Struck circa 343-339/8 BC.

Electronic Auction 520
Lot: 33.
 Estimated: $ 400

Greek, Silver

Sold For $ 850. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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SICILY, Syracuse. Timoleon and the Third Democracy. 344-317 BC. AR Drachm (13mm, 2.50 g, 11h). In the name of the Sikeliotes. Struck circa 343-339/8 BC. Pegasos flying left; ΣI below / Head of female left, hair in band. O. Ravel, “Contribution a l’étude de la numismatique corinthienne” in Arethvse 22 (1st Trimester, 1929), 12 and pl. II, 15; P. Orsi, "Monete siceliote inedite o rare del R. Museo arccheologico di Siracusa" in Atti e memorie dell'instituto italiano di numismatica IV (1921), p. 39, 73 and pl. II, 73 (same obv. die); HGC –; SNG ANS 1171 (same dies; Sikeliotes); BMC Corinth p. 143, 13–4; BCD Akarnania 414 (uncertain Akarnania). Lightly toned, porous, a couple of small marks in field on reverse. VF. Well centered. Very rare.

Ex Klasma Asami Collection (Classical Numismatic Group Electronic Auction 493, 9 June 2021), lot 2 (hammer $700).

The attribution of this very rare Corinthian type drachm issue with ΣI placed in the traditional position of the ethnic on such coins has been long debated. The BCD catalog notes that the letters on the obverse are likely an ethnic, and the style may indicate a mint on Sicily. BCD, though, preferred to leave the attribution to an uncertain mint in Akarnania, as most of the small Corinthian drachm issues from unknown mints seem to derive from that region. Nonetheless, Ravel's argument for placing the issue on Sicily, and likely Syracuse, is quite persuasive. Most importantly, he points to the discovery of two pieces in Syracuse which were reported by Prof. P. Orsi (referenced above). This remains the only find spot recorded for these coins today. Both Ravel and Orsi note the stylistic similarity of the head of the female on the coins to the depiction of Arethousa on other coins of Syracuse, particularly other Corinthian type drachms and hemidrachms (especially of the type HGC 2, 1409). The perplexing aspect of the attribution is the form of the ethnic, as ΣI rather than the usual ΣY. Ravel agrees with Orsi's view that it cannot be indicative of Sikyon, as that city never issued coinage of Corinthian type, but likely is an issue in the name of the Sikeliotes. In producing the SNG ANS catalog, D. Bérend placed this issue alongside the later issues of the Sikeliotes that were struck in Morgantina, but none of these drachms were found in the Morgantina excavations, and they are out of place, typologically and metrologically, with contemporary issues at that city (cf. Campana, Morgantina, Period III, nos. 3–9). In the late 340s BC, the Sikels became allies of Timoleon in his struggle against Carthage (Diod. Sic. 16.73), and it was under Timoleon, a Corinthian general, that Corinthian type coins were introduced at Syracuse. It is possible that this issue may represent a payment to his Sikel allies for their service in his campaign against Carthage, and the denomination of this issue is appropriate for such a coinage.

Closing Date and Time: 20 July 2022 at 10:10:40 ET.

All winning bids are subject to an 18% buyer’s fee.