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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 155. Estimate $2000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $2200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Gela . Circa 339-310 BC. Æ Litra (15.05 gm). Warrior standing right, nude except for helmet and cloak, about to sacrifice a ram / Horse prancing right, eight-pointed star above. Jenkins 552/13 = Virzi 1007 = Calciati III, pg. 30, 61/2 (this coin); SNG ANS 126-128; BMC Sicily pg. 75, 79; SNG Copenhagen 288; SNG Morcom 592; Laffaille 146; Gabrici pl. 4, 11. Near EF, dark brown patina, some light encrustation on both sides. ($2000)

Ex Tom Virzi Collection (Bank Leu Auktion 6, 8 May 1973), lot 91.

Bronze coinage first evolved in Sicily and was based on the litra, a unit of weight for bronze which was indigenous to the island. The original litra coins were small silver pieces representing the equivalent value in precious metal, but by the late 5th century the first bronze coins were being produced by a number of Sicilian mints, the most important being Akragas, Syracuse and Gela. This development made available a much wider range of lower values in coins which were not inconveniently small to handle. This interesting example from Gela comes from the later 4th century and probably represents a full litra of reduced weight. The sacrificial scene on the obverse has been interpreted as depicting Antiphemos, the founder of Gela, or even Timoleon as the founder of new Gela. A cult of Antiphemos certainly existed in Gela, as evidenced by a dedicatory graffito on the foot of a vase (cf. Jenkins pg. 114). The free horse was a popular motif on Sicilian coinage in the post-Timoleonic era and is probably symbolic of democracy and liberty, the star being the herald of the new age.