SICILY, Syracuse. Agathokles.
|Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 102. Estimate $50000.
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004.
Sold For $43000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Circa 317-289 BC. AV Stater (8.52 gm). Struck circa 310-305 BC. Young male or female head right, wearing elephant's skin headdress and aegis / AGAQOKLEIOS
, winged Athena advancing right, brandishing spear in her right hand, holding shield in her left; Owl standing right below. Bérend, l'or
pl. 9, 2; Basel 511 (this coin); S.N. Consolo Langher, "Il messaggio monarchico sulle monete di Agatocle" in Proceedings of the XIth International Numismatic Congress
, vol. 1, pg. 81, 4 = W. Giesecke, Sicilia Numismatica
pg. 91, 8; L. Lacroix, Les reproductions de statues sur les monnaies grecques
, pg. 118, 1 and pl. 8, 6. Near EF, light scratches in obverse field. Extremely rare, one of three known examples. [See color enlargement on plate 2] ($50,000)From the James A. Ferrendelli Collection. Ex Sammlung Ludwig (Numismatica Ars Classica 13, 8 October 1998), lot 511.
This exceptional and unprecedented issue in Sicilian numismatics was issued in conjunction with or in commemoration of Agathokles' victorious African campaign against the Carthaginians. Agathokles is known to have emulated the coinage of the various Diadochoi, attempting to promote himself as their equal in kingship. This particular issue was obviously influenced by Ptolemy I's satrapal issues, which had begun to carry his own name circa 310 BC. The reverse type of Athena is an overt military type, whose appearance is typical for wartime issues. The owl, an adjuct to Athena, carries particular significance, as Agathokles ordered a flock to be released over his soldiers the night before the battle. When many of the birds decended upon them, the soldiers interpreted this as an omen signalling victory in the coming battle. The obverse portrait is a matter of controversy. Some regard it as a portait of Alexander III of Macedon, who appears on the Ptolemaic coinage. Others, noting the absence of the horn of Ammon and diadem, doubt this is likely, as these attributes were canonical on the posthumous portraits of Alexander on coinage. In contrast, they believe the portrait is female, and is a representation of Africa.