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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 21. Estimate CHF35000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF32000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY , Naxos. Circa 461-430 BC. Drachm (Silver, 4.26 g 5), circa 450. Head of Dionysos to right, wearing ivy wreath and with his hair in a bun at the back. Rev. Ν Α ΧΙ ΟΝ Nude and bearded Silenos squatting, facing, turned very slightly to the left, turning his head to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand, and supporting himself with his left hand propped on the ground; his animal tail curls out behind him and around to the left. Cahn 56.12 (this coin). Rizzo pl. XXVIII, 14. Rare. Nicely toned and with a particularly noble head of a fully early classical Dionysos. With the beginning of the usual die break on the obverse, otherwise, extremely fine.

From the Spina collection, ex Leu 81, 16 May 2001, 90 and from the collections of N. B. Hunt, II, Sotheby’s 21 June 1990, 240, S. Weintraub, R. Peyrefitte, Vinchon 29 April 1974, 23, and O. Bloch, Ars Classica XIII, 27 June 1928, 239.

Again a fascinating contrast presents itself when this coin is compared with the drachm in the previous lot. Same city and same types, but the development of art has proceeded at quite a pace! Between the two we can actually see the way the artists have increasingly ‘civilized’ and humanized the powerful god of wine: in only a decade or so his hair and beard have become more trim and his face even more noble - perhaps he is competing with Zeus? As for the Silenos, he was quite fine on the previous coin, but now, he is clearly quite drunk - he seems to be looking at his cup in curiosity, no doubt wondering why it is empty and where he can fill it!