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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 24. Estimate CHF35000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF28000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Naxos. Circa 420-403 BC. Hemidrachm (Silver, 2.09 g 6). Head of the youthful river-god Assinos to left, wearing wreath of parsley and with a tiny horn above his forehead. Rev. ΝΑΞΙΩΝ Silenos kneeling partially to left, nude and with a long beard, holding kantharos in his right hand and an ivy branch in his left. Cahn 124. Hunterian 12. Extremely rare. A coin of wonderful style, exceptionally well struck and preserved. Some minor porosity, otherwise, extremely fine.

From the Spina collection, ex Nomos 1, 6 May 2009, 26 and from the collection of A. Moretti, Numismatica Ars Classica 33, 6 April 2006, 81.

This is one of those extraordinary coins that occasionally appear in the monetary history of the 5th and 4th centuries BC, that are wholly exceptional. With dies cut by an engraver of great talent, a coin like this just could not have been intended to merely enter circulation like any other. Rather, coins of this quality had to have been ordered from the mint by a rich individual who wished to present them as a gift to a specific group of people, or even to all his fellow citizens. They would admire the beauty of the coin they had received, and then use it as money. A donor might well provide tetradrachms to his more important friends, and fractions to the less, but the quality for both would be outstanding.