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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 119. Estimate CHF30000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF44000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Morgantina. The Sikeliotes. Circa 214-213 BC. 25 Litrai (Gold, 2.07 g 9). Head of Athena to right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; behind, two tiny pellets between the nape of the neck and the bottom of the crest, and a vertical thunderbolt on the far left, outside the crest. Rev. ΣΙΚΕΛΙΩΤΑΝ Owl with closed wings standing to right, head facing front; to left, monogram of ΤΙΣ (or ΗΣ). Unpublished. For the coinage of the Sikeliotes at Morgantina, see Morgantina Studies II, pp. 31-34. Apparently unknown and unique, a coin of great interest and significance. A few very minor marks, otherwise, virtually as struck.

From an old English collection.

This coin, which has been in private hands for many years, is a fascinating and surprising novum! The Sikeliote coinage was struck in Morgantina shortly before the city’s sack by the Romans. In this period of emergency it was natural that gold coins would be struck to pay for military needs, but it is equally natural that after the overwhelming victory of the Romans, all such gold would have been taken and used for the Romans’ own Mars/Eagle gold pieces, of which some very rare issues were produced in Sicily. The types used for this coin could be taken from the scarce silver fractions struck by Hieron II: the 1 1/4 litrai with Artemis and an owl (as SNG ANS 906), and the litron (or triple chalkous) with Athena and a value mark (as SNG ANS 907). However, they are also exactly the same as the types used for some extremely rare gold fractions (c. 0.56 g) struck in Panormos c. 280-275 (as SNG ANS 576; SNG Lloyd 1671 and Weber 1736). This return to a type produced over two generations earlier is inexplicable and may well call the date of the issue attributed to Panormos into question. The monogram found on the present piece, and on other issues of the Sikeliotes has yet to be satisfactorily explained.