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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 2, Lot: 17. Estimate CHF200000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 17 May 2010. 
Sold For CHF195000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Akragas. Tetradrachm (Silver, 17.13 g 9), circa 414-413 BC. ΑΚΡΑΓ Two eagles perching right on the body of a dead hare; the nearer, with closed wings, raises his head and screams in triumph; the further, with spread wings, bends his head down to tear at the prey. Rev. ΑΚΡΑΓΑΝΤΙΝΟΝ Crab with open claws seen from above; below, the monster Skylla swimming to left, her right hand raised to shade her eyes (the so-called aposkopein gesture) and her left trailing behind her; at her waist, between her human torso and her fish tail, the foreparts of two hunting dogs. Basel 258 = Kraay / Hirmer 175 (same dies). Gulbenkian 166 (same dies). Jameson 509 (same dies). Rizzo pl. I, 20 (same dies). SNG Lloyd 821 (same dies, and with similar flan faults). Very rare. One of the great masterpieces of the late fifth century coinage of Sicily. Lightly toned. Some minor flan breaks, as with the coin in the Lloyd collection, and a few minor traces of corrosion, otherwise, extremely fine.

Ex The New York Sale XIV, 10 January 2007, 26 and Sternberg XXXII, 28 October 1996, 6.

During the last quarter of the 5th century BC the great cities of Sicily produced some of the most beautiful and beautifully designed coins ever minted. The wealthy aristocrats who ruled those cities - Akragas, Gela, Kamarina, Katane, Syracuse, et al. - competed with each other in the horse races that were their great passion, but also in the quality and elegance of the coinages they financed. No other part of the Greek world produced so many numismatic masterpieces in such a short period of time. This tetradrachm from Akragas, known in about a dozen examples, is superb in every way: the eagles are rendered in an impressively lifelike manner, while the figure of Skylla on the reverse is particularly elegant. It has been suggested that she appears here to commemorate the defeat of the Athenian invasion of 415-413 and this seems likely, though it is also probably a reference to Akragas’s own increasing late 5th century commercial and naval power. The city’s wealth was not enough to protect it from the Carthaginians, however: they stormed and sacked Akragas in 406 BC, a disaster from which it never fully recovered.