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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 28. Estimate CHF80000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF120000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Dionysios I. 405-367 BC. Dekadrachm (Silver, 43.03 g 9), after Euainetos, circa 390. Charioteer, wearing long chiton, holding goad in his right hand and the reins in his left, driving a racing quadriga to left; above, Nike flying right to crown the charioteer; in the exergue on two steps, a panoply of arms Rev. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Kore-Persephone to left, her hair bound in a wreath of grain leaves, wearing a pearl necklace and a triple-pendant earring; behind her neck, scallop shell; around, four dolphins. Dewing 903-906. Gallatin XI/E 1. SNG ANS 372. A magnificent, lightly toned and beautifully struck coin, perfectly centered and free from all the die rust that usually plagues these coins. An exceptionally attractive specimen. Good extremely fine.

From the Spina collection.

The dekadrachms of Syracuse are among the most famous coins of the ancient world - they have been prized since the Renaissance, when they were thought to be commemorative medals, until the present day, though now we know they were produced to finance the wars of Dionysios I. We can also prove that those designed by Euainetos were also well-known in antiquity since molds were made from them as decoration for pottery and the head of Kore-Persephone served as the inspiration for heads of goddesses made by coin engravers all over the Greek world. Thanks to its outstanding preservation this piece shows why this coin was so popular: its sculptural quality is readily apparent, especially given its large size (35 mm in diameter). It is easy to understand why early numismatists thought it was a medal since in their own time there were no coins so large and beautiful and they could not conceive of anything like this being solely for commercial use! Holding this piece in the hand is extraordinary in other ways as well: its perfect preservation and the clearly unworn state of the dies that struck it allow us to see and feel true perfection in Greek coinage.